Saturday, April 30, 2005
For their part, the professors insist the allegations stifle their freedom to express pro-Palestinian views, with one calling it a campaign against critics of Israel.Notice the wording: "Insist"? Does this mean that the author believes that the allegations are true and that the professors only "insist" that they are not? "Pro-Palestinian"? Since when is speaking out against occupation and for human rights the equivalent of being "pro-Palestinian"? The very term in this context suggests that there is some sort of bias against "Israelis" based on their ethnicity, and that therefore we must take the side of the poor, oppressed, "pro-Israeli" students who are a tiny minority against an army of "pro-Palestinians" (who apparently support suicide bombings by the very vice of their "pro-Palestinian" views). "Calling it"? So the author does not believe that it is indeed a campaign against critics of "Israel", and that it is only the professors who insist on calling it that? How very unbiased of Ha'aretz to be publishing this. But even better is the following passage, excerpted from the second article:
By relentlessly attacking Israeli policies and our right to defend ourselves, unions, academics and politicians around the world are doing a disservice to the cause of peace, as it weakens the left camp in Israel. "Where is the solidarity for our suffering?" I challenged the union's secretary general.Defend? Peace? Left camp in "Israel"? Suffering? Did I miss something here? At any rate, let's give the author of this article the benefit of the doubt; in fact, let us extend that benefit to Ha'aretz too, and say that Ha'aretz prints articles from both sides of the spectrum. When was the last time you saw an article by Amira Hass appearing on Ha'aretz? Previously there were at least 2 per week. I just ran a search, and the last article by Hass is on March 29, 2005. That's a month, folks. And during that time, Ha'aretz has printed more than a hundred extreme-right articles. Even if I am mistaken and for some reason missed an article or two by Hass, the more than a dozen right-wing articles per week clearly make Ha'aretz a right-wing newspaper regardless of the few "other" articles it prints.
Let's get back to the Haifa affair, then. The professor, a Mr. David Bukay, "is convinced" that one of the students who complained of anti-Arab incitement in the classroom, Fadi Abu Yunes, who was enroled in the course (unlike many of the Jewish students in Prof. Massad's classroom), "came to the course with the deliberate intention of interfering and of vilifying him." Mr. Bukay, however, fails to realise that the student, a Palestinian, barely had the money to enrol in the course (which resulted in his late enrolment, as we are told). His argument that Abu Yunes took the course simply to interfere in the lecture or to vilify him is therefore ridiculous. Mr. Bukay argues, "He was sent and I know who sent him. He was a provocateur." So who sent him? Pray elaborate, "Professor" Bukay.
In fact, let us look at the coverage that Ha'aretz gives to the events in the classroom: "From the moment Abu Yunes crossed the threshold of Dr. Bukay's lecture hall, the atmosphere turned volatile. He started to ask questions and make comments, shouting out while Bukay was speaking, usually without asking permission."
Compare this to what Ha'aretz did not say in the article on the Columbia affair: "[t]here is ample evidence of [Massad’s] willingness -- as part of a deliberate pedagogical strategy -- to permit anyone who wished to do so to comment or raise a question during his lectures. For many students this approach itself became problematic because it allowed a small but vociferous group of fellow students to disrupt lectures by their incessant questions and comments." (Section IV, Ad Hoc Grievance Committee Report, Columbia University)
In fact, as Prof. Massad argues, many of those students were not registered in his classes. In his response to the Ad Hoc Grievance Committee Report, he says, "The class did however include a number of auditors (I found out they were unregistered during the last week of class) who would consistently harass me with hostile ideological questions that ignored all the readings. Students complained about the disruption this caused the class. I tried to emphasize to the auditors that their questions must be relevant to the subject at hand and that they must do the readings. They never did and I continued to answer their questions until the end of the semester to avoid creating a tense atmosphere in the classroom."
None of this Ha'aretz mentions, not even in passing.
In fact, Ha'aretz talks about the fact that "[Jewish students] confirm that Bukay cited the very small number of Arab Nobel laureates as proof of the Arabs' backwardness and that he said that the Arabs in the Middle Ages mainly preserved the achievements of the Greeks and the Romans and hardly developed anything of their own, apart from algebra ", without even taking a position on the racist remarks (and I don't know what is racist if not talk of "Arab backwardness"). Keep in mind that Ha'aretz has always expressed its views on anti-Jewish incidents, including the alleged anti-Semitic affair at Columbia University. All that Ha'aretz does in this case is question if Bukay is indeed racist: "As part of his efforts to prove his argument, did Bukay cast aspersions of a racist character?" The author continues, "It is difficult to know for certain , but it is clear that what he said was not easy for an Arab student to listen to." No kidding? I would like to see you write the same sentence when the culprit is an Arab and the victims are Jews. Would you even question if it is racist?
Ha'aretz, in an attempt to defend Mr. Bukay, does the typical thing; cite the support of an Arab student. In fact, we don't know if such a student even exists. But let's give Ha'aretz the benefit of doubt once more, and look at the statement: "Dr. Bukay constitutes a dominant factor in shaping my personality. He is the only one who taught me that I must recognize the fact that my culture, the Arab culture, is corrupt, repressive, violent and anti-democratic." Now how did Mr. Bukay arrive to this conclusion? Would he be so kind as to educate us on the steps he followed to arrive to this supposedly non-racist (or as Ha'aretz probably would like us to believe, anti-racist) conclusion?
The whole story turns even more ridiculous. The democracy and freedom-loving Bukay "decided to expel Abu Yunes from the course." (I hope he gave him full refund and did not steal his money as his kind have stolen land from Palestinians for more than 57 years).
But wait, it gets even better. Even the author of the article, at this point, is confused about whether to accuse Bukay of racism or to place him in the "controversial but not racist" list. I will not post the "interview", but I will mention the sentence that made me chuckle: "Sania Hamady, David Pryce-Jones and Raphael Patai - look in the index under `lie' - go to Bernard Lewis." Bernard Lewis, the notorious liar and denier of the Armenian Genocide. Mr. Bukay's hero, apparently. Go read the whole exchange. Go.
This is what I call academia gone... nuts. At University of Haifa, which is currently being boycotted by the AUT. Now you know why.
Italics in all of the above are mine, and are used for emphasis.
* Or, "Haifa and Ha'aretz Unbecoming"
1 Perhaps "Professor" Bukay, who insists on his "scientific" attitudes later on in the article, would like to attend a lecture or two on the importance of algebra and algorithms in our times? That is, before he starts citing the achievements of "Israelis" in the field of modern technology... Perhaps his fellow "Israeli" "professors" would like to inform him that without algorithms (named after Al Khawarizmi, a Persian mathematician who wrote his works in Arabic - "Professor" Bukay fails to make a distinction between Persian and Arab, but by his standards of who is an Arab, he is wrong in dismissing the contribution of Al Khwarizmi for being insignificant compared to the contributions of Jews), none of that would exist, and the "Israelis" would be *gasp* nothings in the field of technology that they boast of being the leaders of in the Middle East and even the world?
2 But apparently not so in the Columbia affair; after all, Jews never lie, only Arabs do.
Friday, April 29, 2005
Winds of change haven't touched the media
Map source: BBC
Thursday, April 28, 2005
"Earlier this week, dozens of Sidon residents reported receiving registered envelopes through Libanpost which contained a poster bearing the signature of a British firm offering a $10 million reward to any person who offers credible information regarding Arad's fate.
Sources told The Daily Star that many Sidon residents headed directly to the national post service's headquarters. Libanpost's administrators immediately reported the issue to security officials."
I wonder why the "Israelis" are pursuing this at this particular moment, knowing full well that the situation in Lebanon is quite volatile. I wonder if they actually understand the phrase "NOT now"?
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Meeting Robert Fisk
Yes, that's my dream. Meeting Mr. Fisk. Do I sound pathetic? :)
IAF to continue intimidation
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
"Drama ... but not a genocide"
The Jerusalem Report, May 2005 issue
Monday, April 25, 2005
Syria out, and first fight already
Yup, and this is the beginning of the end, folks. The end to the so-called "unity", that is. The first pointer to it was this, and now my doubts have been confirmed. But, an Antoinette Geagea dismissed the incident: "Why is the media making such a big deal of this? It is just a childish argument by some boys aged 16-17 whom I doubt know what is really happening between the political parties."
Well, dearest Antoinette Geagea, it takes as little as 16-17 year olds to start a civil war in Lebanon.
Back from Ottawa
When we got to Ottawa there were a few people there already who had set up the audio system. The media was not there, which was a big relief to me after seeing all those flags of the Republic of Armenia. The "ceremony" was organised by the ARF (Armenian Revolutionary Federation) / ARFYOC (Armenian Revolutionary Federation Youth Organisation of Canada). I was expecting that they would bring flags, but I was hoping that they would at least make it different this year, it being the 90th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide... Boy was I mistaken! Actually, it was different. Yes indeed it was. There were more flags. Now don't get me wrong, I have always liked the ARF better than other Armenian parties, including the Ramgavars (due to the fact that I grew up in an ARF-supporting home and community), but lately I've been growing increasingly cold towards it, thanks in no small part to a revision of my political opinions (I've been looking into the Hunchak party ideologies). But I think my dislike of the ARF is also due to the fact that they are very unrealistic if not anti-realistic. Yesterday's speech by the representative of the Կեդրոնական Կոմիտէ (central committee) of the ARF was disgusting. Not only did he not have good command of the Armenian language (which most of the "ceremony" was in), his constant references to "Greater Armenia" did not appeal to my tastes. When I say unrealistic, I mean it. Those ARF-supporters who stayed at home due to "bad weather" (rain) rather than coming out in their thousands to Ottawa would not, in a thousand years, move to those lands even if they are given back to Armenians. In fact, they are not even moving back to Armenia-proper, which I dare say has better infrastructure and is much more developed than most areas of eastern Turkey that are included in the "historical western Armenia" map. They talk about the brave Armenian martyrs and the need to take up arms and fight for our lands, but they would not even stand under the rain without umbrellas. The majority of the supporters of such talk were not even present (as mentioned above). What do they expect from non-Armenians if they, as Armenians (and probably grandchildren of genocide survivors), didn't care about filling that field in front of the Turkish Consulate? Where were they? Glued in front of their TVs, or whining about the necessity of getting back their ancestors' lands? Or singing «Ատանայի Կոտորածը» (Massacre of Adana) and forgetting all about «Մենք Պէտք Է Կռուենք» (We must fight) and its lyrics: «Ամօ՛թ այն հային եւ բիւր նախատինք, Որ ազգի սիրոյն չի գործում բարիք:» (Shame and scorn on the Armenian who does not do good for his nation). Shame indeed. A big shame on the ARF for turning the Armenian Genocide into a nationalistic agenda, thereby giving ammo not to the Armenians, but to the Turkish government and the deniers on its payroll.
Do I regret going there yesterday? Yes and no. Yes because it was very disappointing and frustrating, and because I supported them in a way (by being there), and moreover got counted as belonging to the ARF crowd. No because I was a witness to it so I could report on their idiocy and their use and abuse of my great-grandparents' memory to further their so-called "nationalistic" / "patriotic" goals. The ARF and its supporters must realise that waving the flag of Armenia does not make one an Armenian. And for Christ's sake quit talking about the "white genocide" when you don't even speak Armenian with your children at home.
Well, that's all I wanted to say (this entry has a soft-ish tone because I find myself unable to put into words the extent of my anger and frustration). You can check out the photos from the "ceremony" here. For photos of a REAL demonstration and commemoration, check out this and this and this (thanks Armen from Iran for the links). Not a flag to be seen - I bet that takes away from the validity of the demonstration/commemoration. OK, I'm starting to sound sarcastic, so I will end this here.
Saturday, April 23, 2005
Lebanese Army? Hezballah fighters? Syrian loyalists? No, they are the real Lebanese. Maronites, that is. Christian supporters of... the Lebanese Forces... and of course the disarmament of all militias...
Friday, April 22, 2005
Remembering the Armenian Genocide
Well I don't have much to say on the occasion. My dealings with the issue of the Armenian Genocide have been both personal [indirectly of course] and political/historical. I will talk about both. But first, the personal: The Armenian side of my family originally came from Sasun. Most of them did not survive the genocide. In Sasun: The Turks gathered the Armenian women and children, lined them up, and started killing them one by one. My grandmother's father's mother could not bear to see her son killed in front of her eyes; she begged a Kurdish man to take him and do whatever he wanted with him; raise him as a Kurd, anything he wanted. The man, after a moment of hesitation, took the boy. No one knows what happened to his mother [most probably murdered]. The Kurdish man took the boy and raised him as his own son. He became a shepherd. Every day he would write the Armenian alphabet on the sand, so as not to forget it. Years later, the man wanted him to get married to a Kurdish girl. He ran away. He made his way to Syria. Meanwhile, his future wife (my grandmother's mother) had made it to Mosul (Iraq), where she remained in hiding for a while. All her children (she was married before) except for one daughter saved by a Kurdish man (whom she paid to have her back), had been massacred or had died of starvation on the long walk. Along with her daughter and sister (who had also survived but had lost all her children) they made their way to Aleppo. There she met my grandmother's father, and they got married. My grandmother was born in 1923. She's still alive and tells me that her father had written a book in Armenian about his experiences. The handwritten book was preserved for a long time, but got lost during the Lebanese war. Sometimes I get angry with my grandmother for having lost such a precious book. But it's of no use now. It's gone, never to be seen again.
The political: One of the things that baffle me is how Jews of all people can deny the Armenian Genocide. I was reading Yair Auron's The Banality of Denial: Israel and the Armenian Genocide a while back, and he made the distinction between passive and active denial. A sidenote: I do respect Auron for taking a dissenting stance on the issue, but he is too much of an apologist for the "State of Israel" for my tastes. Later on in this entry I will explain why I accuse him of that. But for now two reasons why I mentioned Auron. The first is the issue of passive vs active denial. The second is the text of a lecture he gave back in February 2003.
On the passive vs active denial, in a recent article on the Jerusalem Post (which seems to be doing its best lately to debunk the claim that most Jews - including individuals as opposed to the myth that the culprits are the "Jewish and/or "Israeli" politicians* and lobbyists* not the Jewish people" - do deny the Armenian Genocide), a Larry Derfner says, "What does the State of Israel and many of its American Jewish lobbyists have to say about it, about this first genocide of the 20th century? If they were merely standing silent, that would be an improvement. Instead, on the subject of the Armenian genocide+, Israel and some US Jewish organizations, notably the American Jewish Committee, have for many years acted aggressively as silencers."
The article starts out strongly but in the end yo-yos between [supposed] criticism of "Israel" and denier Jews, and covering up on the [inevitable and logical but unmentioned] conclusion that if it's an issue of "fair enough" in response to the argument that "it's a matter for historians [not politicians] to decide", "revisionists" [of the Jewish Genocide] should be able to say the same. Thus, the very premise of the author's argument is based on double standards rather than support for a universal method of dealing with this issue, and as such provides further ammo for the war of double standards that the same Jewish deniers he has supposedly set out to criticise have been waging for decades.
The final point I will address is Auron's lecture, which I mentioned above. In it he says, "The headlines of the Turkish Daily News, the influential English daily, on April 10, 2001, were clear: "Peres: Armenian Allegations are Meaningless." The newspaper interviewed Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres on the eve of his official visit to Turkey. Peres claimed in it that it is for historians to deal with such historical issues. The claim may seem feasible, and is sometimes used by governments - including the American and the Israeli - who wish to avoid the dilemma. Nevertheless, it is very well known that this denial tactic is practiced manipulatively by the Turks and their supporters."
A few paragraphs ago I accused Auron of being an apologist for the Jewish and "Israeli" deniers. I will now (briefly) explain why. Pay special attention to his wording. An eloquent writer no doubt, but that is the point. Eloquent writers are eloquent because they are equipped with the ability to imply things in subtle ways or leave their readers wondering what they really meant. My argument? The American and "Israeli" governments are not examples of "wish[ing] to avoid the dilemma". Both governments - especially the latter - have adopted policies of active denial rather than passive non-recognition. On to the second point: this denial tactic is not practised at all by "the Turks", let alone manipulatively. The Turkish government denies that there is even a "dilemma". Moreover, Auron talks of but does not name "supporters" of the Turks. This is a practise typical of apologists who use vague terms and refrain from bluntly naming those whom they are, according to their claims, criticising.
As a final note, do check out this article (thanks umkahlil). And here are some photos of the Armenian Genocide.
I am afraid this is all I had to say. I could go on for pages about my family's wanderings around the world after the genocide, and how I can barely hold back tears when I think of what I would do if and when I visit the birthplace of my great-grandparents or the tiny country that we have never set foot in (I've visited Armenia, but I was 1.5 years old at the time) but are supposed to love... But that would be getting too personal about it. Hopefully one day I would be posting *my* photos of Sasun on this blog. But that won't happen any time soon.
So I will end this entry on a bitter note.
* And we all know that they are immune to criticism of any sort from any direction, so naturally they would be the ones to take the blame for denying the Armenian Genocide (or to use the more politically correct phrase, "not recognising it"), and the world watches and ... laughs. Note that there is a huge difference between non-recognition (most of the time passive, sometimes active) and outright denial (active). I for one do not care about "Israel's" non-recognition, as I do not recognise "Israel" as a legitimate entity to begin with. But I do take issue with the Jewish denial of the Armenian Genocide.
+ Notice the capitalisation. In contrast, the word "holocaust" is mentioned 8 times in the same article, and an "H" rather than an "h" is used in all 8 mentions.
Thursday, April 21, 2005
Highlights of the day (Special Feature: Dan vs Jarrod)
If asked?!?!?!?!?!?!?! But I thought it was all about "never again" and "the duty of the Jewish people to speak out against genocide".
Meanwhile in Germany, as reported by Berliner Zeitung:
BERLIN. Der Bundestag wird heute einen Antrag der CDU/CSU-Fraktion beraten, in dem das Parlament aufgefordert wird, der Vertreibung und Ermordung von 1,5 Millionen Armeniern durch die Türken zu gedenken. Der Begriff Genozid wird in dem Text allerdings vermieden. Trotzdem hatten fast alle türkischen Vereine in Berlin die geplante Parlamentsdebatte kritisiert.
Rough translation: The Bundestag will today discuss a resolution sponsored by the Christian Democratic Union, which addresses the issue of the deportation and massacres of 1.5 million Armenians by the Turks. The term genocide is avoided in the text. Nevertheless, nearly all Turkish associations in Berlin have criticised the parliamentary debate.
But that's not about it. While I was reading through the comments at Blogrel, I "met" a Jarrod who lives in Germany. Apparently, he has decided he wants an ... "intelligent debate" on ... the Armenian Genocide. Indeed, I am not surprised. The political climate, after all, encourages such arguments, because they help to lead the battle for the de-legitimisation of the factual and well-documented Armenian Genocide.
Jarrod tries to be logical (I mourn the loss of logic - the future of humanity does not look bright) and poses the question, "With the Ottoman empire falling apart, having lost a great deal of land over the 40 years before WWI and on the brink of losing WWI, does it make sense that they would suddenly decide for a “Final Solution” or genocide against a people they long lived completely peacefully with? Out of the blue?"
Well, going by your "facts" and your sense of "making sense", the answer would be, no. But such hatred that leads to genocide (or massacres or "so-called genocides", if you prefer to call it that) does not make sense either, don't you think? That does not mean it does not happen, does it? Moreover, you will have to do slightly better than that with your "facts". The premise of your argument is actually false to begin with, which means that your conclusions, even if valid, stand no chance of being sound. I will clarify. The Turks did not live peacefully with the Armenians. I recommend that you look into the racist and even *gasp* murderous policies of the Ottoman Empire against its Armenian citizens. Things like double taxation and if you will excuse my bluntness (as it might offend your pro-"intelligent debating" self) massacres (long before WWI).
Mr. Jarrod then says, "Aren’t the events rather heavy handed tactics by a regime scared of losing power than anything remotely racist?"
Of course. Because the deportation, murder, and forced conversion of all Armenian citizens of Turkey [but not of Muslim Turks or Kurds] is about "a regime scared of losing power than anything remotely racist". Yup. And can you imagine how scary a foetus in an Armenian woman's belly is?! Poor regime. Must've been really scared. :-(
But then Mr. Jarrod concludes, "Massacre Yes. Genocide No."
Dare I cite (or will I be accused of being anti-Turkish and *gasp* anti-Semitic [for taking away the "uniqueness" of "The Holocaust"] if I do that?) Article II of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide?
Article II: In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
The Armenians went through ... definitely not (a) [too inhumane to have happened], definitely not (b) [hmm?], most certainly not (c) [and I don't even know why I was thinking about the long marches in deserts, one of them being Der el Zor, where human remains are still being found], unthinkable to argue that they went through (d) [cutting a woman's belly and pulling out the foetus being the most humane act in the world] , and of course, not (e) either [because it makes no sense that the Turkish government would have done that!]
To end this entry - despite the title (Dan vs Jarrod), I would like to add that I refuse to debate this, either intelligently or non-intelligently. I am not in the least interested in debating the facts of the Armenian Genocide. That is for you to read about, and not for me to prove. So if anyone can prove that the evidence of the Armenian Genocide are fake, all the more power to you. Until then, I would say that you should not hide behind “let’s have an intelligent debate”, because I am not about to take the bait.
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
"Sometimes they write 'big lie' over them," he says.
We want the truth!
Lebanese policemen stand guard at a street-side cafeteria after an explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, late Wednesday, April 20, 2005. A bomb exploded in a street-side cafeteria frequented by low-income laborers, wounding at least three people. The bomb, apparently a hand grenade, was thrown from a car in the Muslim neighborhood of Cola.
Of course, this is not reported on any news agency websites (where are those
The above photo was taken from the Yahoo photo slideshows page. I do
And where are those news reports on the supposedly unbiased search (& destroy?) engine Google? The Google news page that lists news reports on Lebanon was updated 1 hour ago (edit: now 49 minutes ago), and still no trace of this or this or this. But, google Google News NOW with the following key phrase: "lebanon grenade". Beats the purpose, doesn't it? Gee, thanks Google and Yahoo! ! Such unbiased search engines indeed! Or maybe they were just innocently removing anti-Semitic content from the sensitive public eye... Yup, that's it, folks. I finally found the explanation to the mystery.
Edit 1: Check out Al Jazeera's report on the "incident". "The grenade was thrown by an unknown assailant after a parking dispute between three people in the Kola district, police said." Unknown??! What? You mean you didn't follow him?! How pro-Syrian of you! Shame shame. And parking dispute? Since when do Lebanese hurl grenades at one another based on a parking dispute? I haven't heard of such a thing taking place in Lebanon ever since the war (supposedly) ended. And then, "[o]ne hour later, 200 grams of TNT in a plastic bag exploded in an empty field in the Mamora neighbourhood [yup, it's definitely a parking dispute], a mainly Shia area on the outskirts of Beirut's southern suburbs, police sources said." I suppose that gives the Shi'ite Lebanese the right to set up "vigilante" groups and hawajez (checkpoints)? Notice how the police didn't even mention that the targets are Syrians (or even implied that those [literally] poor Shi'ites were being targeted - but we did see everyone whining about "Christian areas" being bombed and all those [figuratively] poor Christians fearing for their lives). Ahh, the winds of change indeed!
Edit 2: Interesting that not even Ha'aretz's article on the grenade was added by Google, when it has used it as a source on political developments in Lebanon before (for example, this one). Of course, Google finds nothing wrong in citing... Arutz Sheva on the ...
Edit 3: In response to my sarcastic remarks that went as follows, "We want the truth! It was the Baath! It's OBVIOUS! Only Baath are able to commit such crimes!", a LFPM supporter said, "Baath? As in the party? It could be them or it could be others, it doesn't really matter." To which I replied, "Absolutely. But the Hariri bombing was ... definitely planned and executed by... "loyalists". Yup. Besides, it doesn't really matter."
Edit 4: Conclusion: Hezballah must be disarmed!
+ Probably referring to the SSNP (Syrian Socialist Nationalist Party)
* Does not include Hezballah as they are not Lebanese
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
And they wonder why...
On the question of Hezballah's status, Bush said: "There is a reason why we've put Hizbullah on a terrorist list. They've killed Americans in the past." He then thought it would be appropriate of him [as the defender of the "opposition"] to add: "You can't have a free country if a group of people are like an armed militia." Mr. Bush forgets that even before the Hezballah killed Americans, U.S "peacekeepers" had effectively taken sides (always with the side that supported "Israel") and occasionally fired on Chouf villages. Will the real Druze please stand up? Now you will accuse me of trying to break the so-called unity and sow sectarian hatred (as if it somehow disappeared), but I will tell you that I am not. I am the last person to be interested in sectarian issues; I am, after all, an atheist. I simply don't care about religion. Period. The reason I address the Druze is that I still have some hope that they would stop being so blind and realise that their leader Walid beik is deceiving them about what it means to be supportive of the "opposition". I have no such hope from the Maronites. I've "washed my hands off" the Lebanese Christians. Do you know, some advocate federalism and the transfer of Christians to the "Christian side" and Muslims to the "Muslim side" under that plan. Others hate the Palestinian refugees so much (as if they are not oppressed enough by them already) that they would not hesitate to deport or massacre them (again). Still others claim Lebanon should be "clean" of all "foreign" elements, including its very own citizens who happen to be of Armenian (Christian) background. I suppose they are bitter that the Armenian community (there were individuals who joined - my current neighbour being one of them) refused to join the Phalangists. In fact, there were fierce battles waged and massacres perpetrated by the latter against the former for that very reason, until, that is, the Armenians took up arms and took control over the defense of their "areas". So I have no hope in this matter from Lebanon's Christians as a whole.
Moreover, Bush said that if Lebanon failed to force Hezballah to disarm, it would provide assistance. What do "opposition" supporters think about this? Is it sovereign enough for them? Or is there enough lack of interference by a "foreign power" in its affairs? Are the so-called patriots not angered and humiliated by such statements? How can they ever be silent to, no, rather, supportive of, such a thing? Moreover, how can they support such a thing at one moment then yell "freedom, independence, sovereignty!" at another? Are they that blind so as not to realise that their double standards are rendering them the laughing-stock of anyone sane (and not subscribing to American propaganda) out there? I say sane because it is most certainly insane to be a member of this hypocritical group that calls itself "the opposition" and assumes the title of patriotism. And I do not intend to attach to this the statement "so that is why you should support the anti-"opposition" side" - that would be a false dichotomy fallacy, one that is unfortunately put to use all the time in Lebanon). Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "When a whole nation is roaring Patriotism at the top of its voice, I am fain to explore the cleanness of its hands and the purity of its heart." This is too true. Think about what has been done in the course of history in the name of patriotism, of king and country, of clergy and religion. You don't have to look further than Iraq and the police state the United States itself has become to see how true this is. Many, many wrong things have been done, and much blood has been shed in the name of liberty, patriotism, sovereignty, and independence. At the end of the day we must at least question if not outright reject these social constructs (or at least the manner in which they are [mis]represented) that have plagued us for millenia. For me freedom might sound and feel true, for others that same freedom might mean quite the opposite, even death. Political absolutism, this adopted child of successive U.S governments, possesses the power to oppress dissenters and become that which it claimed to be rebelling against: a defender of oppression, corruption, and dare I say it, un-patriotism.
So for the sake of humanity, please drop this destructive concept of yours and stop weaving a web of arguments with it. The sooner you stop, the better. Now you see what my problem with the "opposition" is. You have your concept of patriotism, and I my own. But let us stop thinking about and more importantly planning on imposing our personal views on each other. In fact, when I say "us", I am giving you the benefit of the doubt and treating you as an equal when it comes to the use and abuse of that term. I for one do not use it to drive my point home. The only time I ever take the word patriotism in my mouth is when I point to the fact that you are using it and abandoning it at the same time. At least when you decide on a concept stick to it rather than yo-yo-ing back and forth between the two positions.
On another note, I wonder how big Bush's "aid" package to the "opposition" will be in return for the settling of the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.
Monday, April 18, 2005
Another day, another revolution
Woman at Point Zero
Those of you who are wondering what the book is about, here's what the back cover says: "From her prison cell, Firdaus, sentenced to die for having killed a pimp in a Cairo street, tells of her life from village childhood to city prostitute. Society's retribution for her act of defiance - death - she welcomes as the only way she can finally be free."
It is a feminist novel. It is also quite political (outside of feminism, that is). For example, here's a passage: "When they pronounced the word 'patriotism' I could tell at once that in their heart of hearts they feared not Allah, and that at the back of their minds patriotism meant that the poor should die to defend the land of the rich, their land, for I knew that the poor had no land" (28).
I can't wait to resume reading the book, but I had to do a search on google before continuing. So I did, and it turns out that she has a website. On digging through the site in search of her political opinions especially on the Middle East, I noticed an interesting article on terrorism. Quite articulate I must admit, especially with the following:
These measures envisioned as effective ways in the fight against terrorism, are they not in themselves of a "terrorist" nature, a reflection of a "terrorism" imposed by the State, by the rulers of the United States in the name of their "war against terrorism"? Perhaps that is why they are meeting with a mounting opposition from law makers in the Republican and Democratic parties, from political and academic institutions, from peoples organizations and associations for whom issues related to democracy and the loss of civil liberties are becoming a growing concern.Yes, very eloquent. I highly recommend that you pick up this book. If not buy it, then get it from the library. I promise that it will neither harm you nor waste your time. On the contrary, I think that it will raise a lot of awareness of the struggle of women in the Middle East, not only in terms of bombs, war, and death, but also in terms of corrupt, sexist regimes, the very regimes that never tire of propagandasing the cause of freedom from occupation. What about the occupation that women live in? It's time that men in the Middle East (and this is directed not only at Muslims as most of you will think, but also at Christians and Jews - there is A LOT of sexism in the last two, but it is not talked about as much - thanks to the media and the glorification of those religions and the denigration of Islam) open their eyes and realise that their patriarchal systems need to be dismantled and a new system of equality and mutual respect should take their place.
If the policies being implemented by the United States administration are shot through with an increasing violence against the American people said to be needed in order to ensure their "protection against future terrorist attacks" and maximize "internal security" would it be surprising if the violence exercised against other poorer, weaker peoples in the world is reaching the proportions we are witnessing today in the so called "war against terrorism" and the "spread of democracy"?
I keep wondering how the military intervention and occupation first of Afghanistan, then of Iraq can further "the fight against terrorism for humanity." How the increasing death and destruction meted out to the Afghani and Iraqi people can quell the fires of hatred or, dissipate the desperation which helps to fuel the loss of faith in collective, democratic action. I wonder why the killing of Palestinian men, women, and children by a regular technologically, nuclear, laser equipped army continues to be qualified as self defense, why military invasion and mass massacres by "coalition troops" are not described as "terrorism" but as civilizing, democratizing missions meant to free our world of the "Bin Ladens" who have arisen, and continue to arise in different parts of the world.
Edit 1: Does anyone know how I can wrap text around the photo?!?
Edit 2: I finished reading the book last night. Wow. Just wow. Read it.
An "Israeli" boy watches mixed Palestinian-"Israeli" teams play during a soccer match in Herzilya. The tournament is hosted by "The Peres Center for Peace", an oxymoron if there is any. Mr. Peres, in his address to the Knesset on the "Grapes of Wrath" said:
"'Grapes of Wrath' is an operation which has no time limit, but is explicit in its objectives. These objectives are to ensure a long period of quiet for the communities of the north, to stabilize the situation in southern Lebanon [by killing 100+ civilians, half of them children], and to halt the firing of Katyushas [by firing artillery shells], thereby enabling a resumption of the peace process. The operation relies on the use of sophisticated and precise weapons [very precise indeed]. It accords expression to the IDF's advantage in human [human quality? oh wow, how very non-supremacist of you] and technological quality [yes, I suppose that is true - after all you're the one that receives billions in military "aid", not Lebanon - and despite that, your arses got handed over to you by Hezballah. I guess they are of a superior human quality then?], in mobility, and intelligence, and in precise and accurate hits [yes, I can tell]."
Letter to the Editors of Ha'aretz
I sent the following letter to the editors of Ha'aretz:
I am writing this e-mail with regards to the article that appeared on Ha'aretz yesterday (April 17, 2005) titled Waiting for the denial to end (Dalia Shehori). I noticed the link to it on the main page of the English version of Ha'aretz but it was removed shortly thereafter. Not even the search engine could find the article. I happened to have bookmarked it and could show it to family and friends.
I am not sure why the link was removed in such a hasty manner. I would like to think that it was not due to external pressures, or even worse, internal ones. When I saw the article, I was impressed that Ha'aretz had posted something that went "against" government policy in what is one of the most shameful denialist acts by the very people who are supposed to be against such denial. Unfortunately, that didn't last long, as the article was removed shortly after I noticed it.
I would like to know why it was removed, and I sincerely hope that Ha'aretz would do the right thing and put it back up. I, too, am waiting for the denial to end. Not only the government's denial, but also the denial by many independent institutions in Israel as well as in many Jewish communities worldwide.
(Robert Fisk, Pity the Nation: The Abduction of Lebanon, p. 669)
When Peres had launched this latest war -- 'Grapes of Wrath' was its malign name -- we were treated to the usual nonsense about a war on 'terror', a war against 'international terror', about Israel 'not sitting idly by'. Terrorists, terrorists, terrorists; the same brainwashing that had so affected the Israeli soldiers who invaded Lebanon 14 years earlier. The Israelis firing the shells into Qana were probably schoolboys in 1982. But they still believed the same fantasies. On the very first day of the bombardment, the Israelis fired a missile at the 'Hezbollah terrorist headquarters' in Beirut. But they missed the Hezbollah's offices and the rocket beheaded a little girl in a neighbouring apartment. Then they fired at a car carrying a 'terrorist' to Beirut. But there was no 'terrorist'. Their missile killed the driver -- a young woman -- as she stopped to buy a sandwich at a shop opposite the Jiye power station.
Then just five days before the Qana massacre, another Israeli Apache helicopter pilot fired a missile into an ambulance south of Tyre. It was carrying 'terrorists', the Israelis announced. But it was not. The vehicle was packed with families fleeing their shelled village, obeying the instructions to leave which they had heard over the Israeli-run militia radio station. Two women and four young children were killed in the ambulance. I would later identify and meet every survivor. None was a member of Hezbollah. [...] But the Israelis went on claiming that 'terrorists' were in the car. They never apologised.
(Robert Fisk, Pity the Nation: The Abduction of Lebanon, p. 672)
The Hezbollah had by [the evening of April 16] fired exactly 120 Katyusha rockets over the border. Israelis along the border spent nights in shelters. By contrast, Israel was firing 3,000 shells a day into Lebanon while its air force were launching 200 missile raids every 24 hours and 400,000 Lebanese civilians were straming up the roads to Beirut, often under fire from two Israeli gunboats that cruised the shoreline, firing at vehicles on the coastal highway -- because, of course, the 'terrorists' were using the roads.
(Robert Fisk, Pity the Nation: The Abduction of Lebanon, p. 673)
I spoke to hundreds of UN troops about the story of the mysterious videotape. Did it exist? And if so, why had it not surfaced? Why hadn't the UN publicised it? Then I learned that the film existed, but that it had been given to General van Kappen and that the soldier had been instructed never to give it to anyone. I heard, too, that the UN's final report on the massacre would be kept secret under what was described as American pressure on the UN Secretary-General, Boutros Boutros Ghali.
(Robert Fisk, Pity the Nation: The Abduction of Lebanon, p. 681)
Then two days [after the mass funeral of the massacre victims at Qana], I was sitting at home in Beirut when my mobile phone rang. A voice gave me a map reference and added: '1300 hours.' I ran to the front room where I kept my files on southern Lebanon, tearing open the large-scale map of the region. The reference was to a crossroads near Qana. I have never driven so fast to southern Lebanon. And at 1300 hours, I saw in the rear-view mirror a UN jeep, pulling up behind me.
A soldier in battledress and blue beret walked up to me, shook hands and said: "I copied the tape before the UN took it. The plane is there. I have made a personal decision. I have two young children, the same age as the ones I carried dead in my arms at Qana. This is for them." And from his battledress blouse he pulled a video-cassette and threw it on the passenger seat of my car. It was, I think in retrospect, the most dramatic individual personal act I have ever seen a soldier take. The mighty powers may try to cover up, but the little people can still sometimes win.
I drove at speed back to Beirut and slammed the cassette into my recorder. Zooming into the smoke over Qana, the amateur cameraman caught the explosion of shells above the camp. From the distance the film was taken, it was still possible to make out the individual shellbursts. Norwegian troops can be seen close to the camera. Then one of them looks into the sky and the camera pans up. There is a buzzing sound and into focus comes the 'drone', trailing smoke from its engines, flying low over the base. As it moves, the sound of explosions can still be heard and a UN radio in the background can be heard. On it, Commandant Smyth is passing on the message that "Fijibatt headquarters is under fire". The camera zooms again and there is the conference room, burning like a torch. So it was all true.
I made stills of the crucial pictures. The UN had no idea I had the film. Nor had the Israelis. But if The Independent printed all the details -- with photos from the tape -- then the UN would be forced to publish its report. There could be no denying these images. [...] At the same time, and at no profit, we arranged to distribute copies of the tape to every television station which requested it -- British, American, French, Arab, and Israeli, all of whom showed the sequence of the 'drone' over Qana during the shelling. The UN, mainly on the basis of the film -- of which they had, of course, all along had a copy -- concluded that the slaughter was unlikely to have been caused by an error, a gentle way of saying it was deliberate. The Israelis, confronted with the film by van Kappen, then changed their story. "In their eagerness to cooperate with the United Nations," they said, they had given wrong information to the major-general. There was indeed a 'drone' over Qana, they said, but it was not photographing the camp. It was on 'another mission'. The Israelis did not say what this 'other mission' was. They also said that the pilotless aircraft with its live-time television cameras only arrived after the shelling had ended -- a claim the videotape clearly shows to be untrue.
What followed was predictable. The UN was accused by some Israeli lobby groups in the United States of 'anti-Semitism'. American reporters at the press conference held to publish the UN report asked hostile, almost insulting questions of UN officials, often implying racist motives behind the report's conclusions. A New York daily told its readers that the UN had been insensitive to ask the Dutch general to write the report because Holland had allowed its Jewish population to be sent to Auschwitz in the Second World War. Once more, the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis were being employed to protect Israel's misdeeds.
(Robert Fisk, Pity the Nation: The Abduction of Lebanon, p. 682-683)
This is what I love Robert Fisk for. When he's not getting all involved in politics and instead doing his job as a journalist, he is amazing. I decided to share these excerpts (for educational purposes only - buy his book if you want to read the entire thing) because I thought that no matter what *I* wrote, it wouldn't be the same. He effectively demolishes the myth of "Jewish purity of arms". As for the officer who handed the video to him, whoever he is, wherever he is now, he is my hero. Thank you.
Edit: Here is "Israel's" response to the UN report on Qana.
Sunday, April 17, 2005
Ha'aretz plays hide & seek
The article was there just this morning along with a rather big flag of Turkey, and I was lucky enough to catch it, as it was removed shortly afterwards (for some
Will the real Jewish left please stand up?
In short, all these people who weep for the Palestinians, all these activists who put their bodies on the line, all the eminent figures and eloquent writers who condemn Israel's vile actions--none of these people actually request, let alone demand, any remotely serious action against Israel. And there are only ugly explanations for this bizarre behaviour. Are Jews still better than Palestinians? Did the Nazi era confer on them an unlimited licence to plunder and murder? Is being Jewish so sacred, so wise, so humanitarian, so warm and cuddly that a Jewish state couldn't "really" do much harm, or deserve more than a good scolding?
Also check out my and Here and There's posts on the Jewish and/or "Israeli" left.
Saturday, April 16, 2005
+ Only 40% of the Lebanese being real Lebanese.
The official list of symptoms:
2-"The opposition is peaceful"
3-"We are not militias, only vigilantes"
4-"We don't have weapons, only Hezballah does"
5-"If you're not with us, you're.... pro-Syrian or a Syrian"
6-"Ka3k vendors are mukhabarat"
7-"Najib Mikati is pro-Syrian"
8-"The Truth, we want the Truth! Syria was behind it!"
9-"We're not against Syrians, only the Syrian government. The Syrian people have suffered under the Ba'athist regime just like we have." *stabbing some more Syrian workers*
10-"War? Never again!" *stabbing some more "Syrian-looking" Lebanese workers*
11-"Palestinians? We support their right of return!" (Meanwhile at home: "When will those filthy Palestinians leave our country?")
12-"We're not pro-Israel!" (Meanwhile at rallies: "Disarm Hezballah! Apply 1559 fully!" [because we want to do "Israel's" job])
13-"Zoom Out & Count, 100% Lebanese" (A photographer mistakenly zooms in and here is a lady with her uniformed Sri Lankan maid, and there are two Sri Lankan maids with Lebanese flags, 100% Lebanese indeed)
14-Owns at least 1 Hariri mask
15-Can't utter one sentence without mentioning Hariri's name at least twice, and the rest of the sentence being a mixture of French, English, and Lebanese (See next point)
16-"Lebanon is not an Arab country and the language we speak is not Arabic but Lebanese" (Breaking news for linguists!)
18-"You should be happy to kiss General's feet"
19-"The opposition is not sectarian" (Walid Beik not sectarian,
PatriarchPolitician Sfeir not sectarian, hmm, who else..?)
20-"LFPM is a secular movement that is open for all" (95% of its members are... Christians)
21-"Bring only a Lebanese Forces flag, and never ever talk to Palestinians or Syrians"
22-"We are patriotic and united! See, we wave Lebanese flags, not the flags of the parties we support!" (Meanwhile the "opposition" had to ask its supporters not to bring party flags the NEXT time so as to further the propaganda of "Revolution made for TV" and "A movement for all Lebanese" and "We are united")
23-"Sheb3a farms is not Lebanese; besides, even if it is, it's just a strip of land, why does it matter?" (Meanwhile on "opposition"-supporting "discussion" boards, there are hundreds of members who have 10,425 in their usernames, user titles, avatars, or signatures)
n-Unfortunately, the Health Ministry has so far been unable to count and record all the symptoms of the Hariri Flu. We are working on it 'round the clock. Please stay tuned for more. We will release a statement as soon as we come up with more information necessary to honour the bacteria and attempt to spread it around. We apologise for the inconvenience.
The masks are not enough
I am afraid I must go and throw up now.
New masks are now being sold in Lebanon. Yup. And guess what? It's of the same guy who owned, err umm, 99.9% of downtown Beirut (I suppose the 0.1% would be the St. Georges) and was hated, yup, hated for it. Meet the hero of the "opposition". And the new heroes of Lebanon (the all new version of fascist Maronites) - alas the photo shows only one -
A pro-"opposition" caricature. Translation: "We will hold the elections as quickly as possible" (on the shell is written "the government"). What I don't understand, though, and I hope someone could explain this to me, is how the "loyalists" would benefit from postponing the elections?? If anything it would boost the position of the "opposition". But perhaps the "opposition" is simply trying to score some cheap propaganda points off this??
Friday, April 15, 2005
A Tale of Two Infiltrations
The Israel Offense* Forces will investigate how a Fatah militant managed to infiltrate into a military base on the Golan Heights from Syria on Friday morning.The other case, and of course the less important one (since we all know that Lebanon is always the initiator of aggression) is the following incident, reported on both Daily Star and JPost but
The man was captured after a shootout with IOF* troops, security sources said.
In a rare flare-up in the normally quiet Golan, the gunman penetrated the border fence and opened fired on the IOF's* Tel Hazeka outpost, northeast of Katzrin.
+ See *
* Necessary corrections made
Lebanese authorities have captured two dogs that crossed the border from Israel, checking whether they were booby-trapped or carried electronic implants that could be used for spying, Lebanese security officials said Friday.I am sure that in retaliation of this grave aggression by Lebanese authorities, "Israel" was FORCED to respond by flying its airplanes over Southern Lebanese towns...
The two dogs, Shylo-type, "infiltrated" Lebanon on Thursday through an opening in the barbed wire fence that separates the Kfar Kila village in Southern Lebanon from the northern Israeli town of Metulla.
Map showing the countries that were sent samples of a flu virus. The UN's health agency revealed that some of the samples appear to have gone missing on their way to two of their destinations in Lebanon and Mexico. JOY! So will the opposition breathe a sigh of relief over Hezballah's weapons now that they have bio-terror weapons handy? What do you mean they already had weapons??? Can't be! The opposition is peaceful!
Thursday, April 14, 2005
"Lebanese Forces", "Kata'eb", and "FPM": Same shit, different names?
The two-pronged attack came amid festive celebrations in the streets of Zahleh staged by activists of Samir Geagea's Lebanese Forces, ex-President Amin Gemayel's Katayeb Corrective Movement and of Gen. Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement.
So much for the so-called graph that Mustapha of Beirut Spring has designed for us:
(Notice the distance between the FPM and "Christian Mainstream" in that graph, and then start thinking if they're that far from one another in reality, and also whether or not the "Christian Mainstream" is supposed to be placed in the middle of the graph as opposed to the far right).
3 more resolutions against "Israel"
The 53-member state body, at its annual session, easily adopted three resolutions on Israel presented by Arab countries.
The United States and Australia were alone in voting against both the resolution on settlements and one on the Golan Heights.
Britain, Canada, Germany and Italy were among those joining the United States in voting against a text condemning Israel for use of force, including executions, and "continued systematic violations" in the West Bank and Gaza Strip occupied since 1967.
Massacre in Jenin
An "Israeli" soldier covers his nose from the overwhelming smell of death in the Jenin refugee camp. Zalmon Shoval, Ariel "Man of Peace" Sharon's adviser, argues that what happened at Jenin was justifiable since "Israel [with no less than 200 nuclear warheads] was fighting for its life". Shoval also said, "Mr [Terje Roed] Larsen (UN Middle East envoy) has no business whatsoever to tell us what is right or wrong".
Armenian Mythology: Ara the Beautiful and Shamiram
At this time there lived Semiramis (Shamiram in Armenian), the queen of Ninevah. Her husband was Ninus, who came to loathe her for her infidelity, and left his country. Semiramis, who had heard about the fame of the handsome Armenian king Ara, lusted after his image and asked him to come to Ninevah and marry her. When Ara refused, she marched her armies towards Armenia.
The battle began when Semiramis arrived in the region called Ararat. She ordered her commanders to capture Ara alive, but he was vanquished and killed by one of her sons. His body was found on the battlefield among the other slain soldiers. In order to calm the Armenians, who wanted to continue the fight to avenge his death, Semiramis said, "I have prayed to the gods to lick his wounds and heal him. Ara will revive."
"Israel's" plan for Iran
He continues, "Naturally, according to the Likudites and their Neocon buddies, Muslims and Arabs have a genetic predisposition to kill Jews and if they are allowed to have even one measly Hiroshima-grade atom bomb they will immediately nuke Tel Aviv. It is a bullshit story, entirely racist and irrational, the sort of nonsense the Zionists have pedaled for decades in an effort to get their way, that is to say de-Palestinianize Palestine and demonstrate their mercilessness to the Arabs and Iranians. Moreover, when history is examined, the indisputable fact emerges that it is Israel, under the leadership of a number of rabid Zionist serial offenders such as Sharon and Begin, that is responsible for much of the trouble in the region, from starting a couple major wars to killing scads of otherwise peace-loving people and blaming it on the Arabs (viz., the Lavon affair and Mossad's planting of a radio device in Libya, resulting in the U.S. bombing Libya, to name but two of a number of murderously deceptive events engineered by rabid and remarkably sociopathic Zionists). Hell, if I was Iranian with a neighbor like Israel I'd want a couple nukes of my own too, especially considering the Israelis have about 200 of them."
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
I will update the look of the blog (i.e. template) in the coming few days. I will try to keep it as quick-loading as possible, as I know the pains that dial-up users have to go through.
And in case you did not notice, there is a new poll in the sidebar. So practise your democratic "right" and vote!
Yesterday I bought myself a brand new chess board (the old one is in Lebanon). Anyone up for a "long distance" chess game? :) Let me know. I promise I won't kick your arse. Not too much anyway. :D
Alright, off to refreshing the news sites to see if there's anything worth reading.
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Lebanese war series - Day #6
I have not been writing much in the Lebanese war entries (6-day series). It's not that I can't say much about the war, it's just that it's difficult for me to talk much about it in terms of my personal experiences, although I have made half-hearted attempts at it.
Fact is, nothing will bring back our loved ones. Those of us who never found out what happened to them will continue wondering, and suffering in the process. The most difficult part is, some of us will never know, because no witnesseses exist, or finding them is literally impossible.
It's more than just a personal experience. For some of us (at least this is the case for me), it has become an obsession. When I look at photos of any particular area of Beirut, I wonder if that is where the "incident" took place. When I was a kid, I would convince myself that "when I grow up I will" find out the truth, and then "everything will be alright". I've given up on those hopes now, although I still can't let go of the wish that one day I would find out. You might think or say (or both), "why does it matter at this point? Just let go of it. It's over now, and nothing can bring him back." Yes, I know. But tell that to my heart. I suppose I sound pathetic; that's why I don't write much about this. And maybe it's better that I am missing out on the events for the commemoration of the war. I don't think I'm ready for that. Maybe 30 years from now I will be. But for the moment, I will take my anger out through words rather than crying in public (which is most probably what I would be doing if I went to any of those events). I guess the most important thing is that I don't hate those who hurt my dad. I dare say that if I met them today I would hug them instead of trying to hurt them. Time might not heal, but it certainly does help with reconciliation and forgiveness.
1 month and 13 days left until I land in Lebanon. I've been looking forward to that moment for 4 years now. But as the days roll, I shiver at the thought of going back. I don't know if I can describe what I am feeling or for that matter why. But I can say that it has certainly been different (for a change) to have spent 4 years without constantly being forced, through the streets and buildings of the war, to run through your mind the scenes of death and destruction, the sounds of the bombs, the shelters, the unexploded bombs in apartments, parking lots on fire, tanks rolling over cars with men, women, and children in them, line-ups at gas stations and bakeries, and many, many more. You can take all that and do whatever you want with it. I want new streets, new names, new places. And no memories. Sure, I can talk about it, but it won't go away. None of that will. Ever. You can have your rallies and shows of unity, I will watch and keep silent, and be glad that I'm not there.
And they talk about unity after all the death and destruction.
We are not talking about statistics here. I refuse to subscribe to your movement of turning loved ones into numbers. Your statistics mean nothing to me; there are real people behind those numbers, real names, real suffering. Perhaps start by collecting their names and showing that you care. You and your kind were sitting in bunkers while ordering your so-called "armies" to bomb residential areas, ordering your men to kidnap or massacre civilians (and all that in the name of religion). Your words are hollow, they echo and make a lot of noise, but there is little meaning or feeling behind them. You are opportunists. And if you don't stop using the memory of my dad for your petty agendas and political gains, I will do everything in my limited powers to silence you.
Stop using and abusing the memory of the dead. 15 years after the last man, woman, and child were killed, and you still show no respect.
You can show me this, but I will only see this.
Lebanese war series - Day #5
The Lebanese have spent the past 15 years in a political coma, refusing to acknowledge their violent past lest the ghosts arise from their mass graves and return to stir the embers of sectarianism and mutual suffering. "Whatever you do, don't mention the war" had a special place in a country whose people stubbornly refused to learn the lessons of their fratricidal slaughter.
For almost 10 years, my own book on the civil war was banned by Lebanon's censors. Even Hariri himself told me he was powerless to put it back into the shops - ironically, it was a pro-Syrian security official whose resignation the Lebanese opposition is now demanding who lifted the ban last year - and none of Lebanon's television stations would touch the war. It remained the unspoken cancer in Lebanese society, the malaise which all feared might return to poison their lives.
There clearly was a need to understand how the conflict destroyed the old Lebanon. When al-Jazeera broadcast from Qatar a 12-part documentary about the war, the seaside Corniche outside my home in Beirut would empty of strollers every Thursday night; restaurants would close their doors. Everyone wanted to watch their own torment. So, I suppose, did I.
The original 13 April - in 1975 - marked the day when Phalangist gunmen ambushed a busload of Palestinians in Beirut. The bus still exists, the bullet holes still punctured through its rusting skin, but it will be left to rot in the field outside Nabatea where it lies to this day. The only bullet holes visible to the crowds next week will be the ones deliberately preserved in the statue of Lebanon's 1915 independence leaders, who were hanged in Martyrs Square, where a "garden of forgiveness" connects a church and a mosque and where Hariri's body now rests, along with his murdered bodyguards. The square itself was the front line for the entire war. Who knows how many ghosts still haunt its hundreds of square metres?
Not far to the east is the infamous "Ring" highway where Muslim and Christian gunmen stopped all traffic in 1975 and walked down the rows of stalled cars with knives, calmly slitting the throats of families of the wrong religion. Eight Christians had been found murdered outside the electricity headquarters and Bashir Gemayel directed that 80 Muslims must pay with their lives. The militias kept on multiplying the figures. When you are in a war, you feel it will never end. I felt like that, gradually coming to believe - like the Lebanese - that war was somehow a natural state of affairs.
That the conflict was really between Christian Maronites and the rest somehow disappeared from the narrative. It was everyone else's fault. Not the Lebanese. Never the Lebanese. For years, they called the war hawadess, the "events". The conflict was then called the "War of the Other" - of the foreigners, not of the Lebanese who were actually doing the killing.
A taxi driver who gave me a lift several years ago turned to me as we were driving through the streets and said: "Mr Robert, you are very lucky." And he meant that I - like him - had survived the war. I remember the last day. The Syrians had bombed General Michel Aoun out of his palace at Baabda - in those days, the Americans were keen on Syrian domination of Lebanon because they wanted the soldiers of Damascus to face off Saddam's army of occupation in Kuwait - and I was walking behind tanks towards the Christian hills.
Shells came crashing down around us and my companion shouted that we were going to die. And I shouted back to her that we mustn't die, that this was the last day of the war, that it would really now end. And when we got to Baabda, there were corpses and many people lying with terrible wounds, many in tears. And I remember how we, too, broke down and cried with the immense relief of living through the day and knowing that we would live tomorrow and the day after that and next week and next year.
And so I think the Lebanese are right to confront their demons next week. Let them celebrate. To hell with the ghosts.
Robert Fisk, The Independent, April 9, 2005
Monday, April 11, 2005
Lebanese war series - Day #4
Sitting with the boys in the living room, the fading picture of their parents on the wall I felt a deep, oppressive sadness at the misfortunes which had befallen these boys, the youngest of whom had become men before their time. Brothers locked in a world of loss. The fading portrait of their parents on the wall and a feeling that the house was exactly the way mother had kept it ensured haste in my workshop. They seemed keen but their eyes only conveyed anguish. The oldest was getting married in a weeks time. I said my thanks and goodbyes secretly hoping they would use the cameras for the wedding.
I met many more people that day, in particular, three more children who were to join the ranks of hundreds who have offered me their stories of loss, anguish, fear and pain. The stories have begun to become one: stories of flight, of losing loved ones, stories written simply and honestly. They had all thanked me but I felt unhappy, I felt inadequate. They have trusted me to tell their stories but it seems too little; no words can convey the sorrow and fear in their eyes.
Source: War Child
And this may be cheesy, but I wanted to include it anyway:
All of my life, all I have known,
only a place where peace cannot go;
All over the world, the gift from before,
nothing is left for the children of war;
And did you go to your bed with a sweet lullaby,
And the sound of the guns in the night,
And did you dance in the fields, did you run for your life,
From the hell that came down from the sky?
-Chris de Burgh, "Lebanese Night"
Edit: The second photo of Palestinian refugees in the slums of Karantina was taken by Françoise Demulder (France, Gamma) and won the World Press Photo of the Year award in 1976.