Saturday, October 25, 2014

your dear ally in the Middle East

"Saudi Arabia's Interior Ministry on Thursday issued a warning to women not to get behind the wheel in defiance of the kingdom's men-only road rules after a renewed social media campaign to challenge the law by driving in public." "The conservative Islamic kingdom is the only country in the world to stop women driving," "In Saudi Arabia, a top Arab ally of the United States, women are legally subject to a male guardian, who must give approval to basic decisions they make in fields including education, employment, marriage, travel plans and even medical treatment."

US influence in Latin America

"Increasingly, the U.S. seems to be isolated from its Latin American and Caribbean neighbours, says Birns, who argues the same is true of Canada. Both countries are excluded from recently established regional organizations such as CELAC (the Spanish abbreviation for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) and Unasur (the Union of South American Nations)."

torture graphic

"The graphic below diagrams the participation of key high-level officials in the torture program based upon publicly available information."

Yet another poll from WINEP: plling firm a mystery

"The Washington Institute and conducted in September by a leading local commercial survey firm".  With an outfit tied to the Israeli lobby, and with a heavy baggage of hostility to Arabs and Muslims, all results, especially in the absence of naming the polling firm in question, the results should be regarded as suspect.  And those results seem cooked in Washington, DC: for example: the question about "Israeli-Palestinian peace": how was that phrased in Arabic? That makes a whole lot of a difference. 

Eric Alternman lied

"So Alterman states baldly that BDS activists are anti-Semitic in a speech to students who are considering pro-Palestinian action. He’s wrong.

P.S.  Alterman also urged the students not to vote for boycott because such a vote would not reflect well on him. He’s a distinguished professor of English and journalism at CUNY, and “I have a lot of titles, but that’s the one I’m proudest of, and I would hate to see it sullied by this.” Gosh. Talk about taking yourself too seriously..."

Google's plans to find a Lebanese Shi`ite alternative to Hizbullah

""In fact, Cohen had moved to Google from the U.S. State Department in 2010." "State Department cables released as part of Cablegate reveal that Cohen had been in Afghanistan in 2009, trying to convince the four major Afghan mobile phone companies to move their antennas onto U.S. military bases. In Lebanon, he quietly worked to establish an intellectual and clerical rival to Hezbollah, the "Higher Shia League." And in London he offered Bollywood movie executives funds to insert anti-extremist content into their films, and promised to connect them to related networks in Hollywood."" If only you know the names mentioned in those wikileaks. Ha ha.  (thanks Amir)

"relatively moderate" now refers in the Western media to strict Al-Qa`idah followers

"But while Riyadh has backed relatively moderate Sunni rebel groups fighting Iranian-backed governments in Iraq and Syria, it has also joined air strikes against the fundamentalist Islamic State and aided Egypt's military in its crackdown against the Muslim Brotherhood." (thanks Basim)

Gauze and Gaza

Do you know that the word "Gauze" is derived from Gaza because this ancient city was known for making very fine fabrics?


The West did not know sugar before the crusades.  They used to sweeten with honey in the Europe. The story is told that crusaders were drawn to the sight of boys sucking on sugar canes on the coast from Beirut to Tripoli (note that the two cities excel in the making of sweets).  That is how the European discovery of sugar started. William of Tyre acknowledges this.  Note also that the name for sugar in English and French is from the Arabic sukkar.

Hanna Batatu

My weekly article for Al-Akhbar: "Hanna Batatu: A brilliant social historian of Arab social classes".

Friday, October 24, 2014

Saudi king’s nephew admits to Riyadh support for ISIL

"Billionaire Saudi businessman Alwaleed bin Talal has admitted to the kingdom’s support for the ISIL Takfiri terrorists who fight against the Iraqi and Syrian governments.

The Saudi business tycoon, who is a member of the Saudi royal family, told CNN on Monday that “some extremists in Saudi Arabia” provided financial support for the terrorists."

WINEP in Arabic

I am so sure that there are Lebanese right-wingers with their typical lousy command of Arabic who translate into Arabic for WINEP. This one is really funny.

Saudi Arabia and Huthis

From a colleague in France: "The Saudi government is so humiliated with the advance and success of the (reactionary) movement of the Huthis that its media have
been cheering the Al-Qa`idah threats in Yemen against the Huthis. Often times they are referred to as "tribes of Yemen"."

I don't want to waste your time with details that you are not going to publish, but my daughter, who works for an NGO on Yemen, tells me that the Saudis have been much more flexible with the Houthis than one could imagine. After all, an entity which is capable of taking San'a'
is capable of posing a serious danger to Saudi."

Israel and heritage: BDS call

From Daniel (I, of course, cite with permission): "As I may have let on previously, I am an adoptee from Lebanon, living in this forsaken place for 10 years now. I recently submitted a saliva sample to the company 23andMe, and hope to find some kind of identifying information through DNA testing. I was horrified to read today that the company has formed a partnership with a genealogical web site called MyHeritage. They are based in Israel, and you gotta ask: Is it not obscene (or worse) that such a company be founded in a place that denies the heritage of millions of Palestinians? Is it not creepy (or worse) that an Israeli company actively catalog genealogical information from around the globe?

May the usurping entity's days be numbered...."

Would they dare work illegally in Israel?

"After the fall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, the U.S. Agency for International Development hired several non­governmental organizations to set up pro-democracy programs in Egypt — even though they were not registered to work in the country."

The bottom 90 percent are poorer today than they were in 1987

Dumb bigotry

"“Literally every Muslim believes that Jesus, the God father, Maria and no other God on the planet is tolerable but the God of Muslims. So, there is no room for negotiations here. Some can say that it is like taking Nazism to another level.” "  And is this different from religious dogmas in other religions?

Meet the darling of the Western media; Ashraf Ghani wants to investigate blasphemy

"The investigation, apparently being led by intelligence and cultural affairs officials, came at the request of Afghanistan’s new president and chief executive officer."

Do Syrian rebel groups ever have to substantiate their claims?

"“During the last three days, we have been hit by over 120 barrel bombs,” said Ahmed Abu Talal, a rebel belonging to the Islamic Front group".  Is there any claim that they make get verified? If they were to say that nuclear weapons were dropped on them (and I believe that one rebel group made that claim every in the war), would that get verified or printed as is?  I mean, it could be 5000 barrels but how was the number reached?

Again, this passes as sophisticated analysis of international affairs in the New York Times

"Reading the papers these days I find that the two world leaders who stir the most passion in me are Pope Francis and Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia. One is everything you’d want in a leader, the other everything you wouldn’t want. One holds sway over 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, the other over nine time zones. One keeps surprising us with his capacity for empathy, the other by how much he has become a first-class jerk and thug. But neither can be ignored and both have an outsized influence on the world today."  Even William Safire never wrote like this about his enemies and enemies of Israel.

Which holy book calls for murder and enslavement?

"THE holy book is clear about what to do when you capture a city: “Put to the sword all the men in it”. As for the women and children, “You may take these as plunder for yourselves.” ...Besides, imagine if Christians and Jews still followed the letter of the Bible, which is, incidentally, the source of the passage at the top of this article. The verse (Deuteronomy 20:10-20) also prescribes that in case of capturing a city from the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites or Jebusites, the victors should “utterly destroy them” and “save alive nothing that breatheth”."

Lord Balfour: a century later

"IN HIS declaration of 1917 giving Britain’s backing for the creation of a Jewish homeland, Arthur Balfour, the then foreign secretary, undertook to uphold the civil and religious rights of the native population of Palestine. A century later after less than total success, Britain’s Parliament added national rights as well. On October 13th it voted by 274 votes to 12 to recognise a Palestinian state."

Rebels that Liz Sly described as "moderates" are in fact Al-Qa`idah

From Ali, the Angry Arab's chief correspondents in Turkey: "Liz Sly's "moderates" Liwa Thuwwar al-Raqqa was part of Al Qaeda's Syria branch Al-Nusra Front. "

Zionists have been reinterpreting the First Amendment in the US

"On September 22, MSJP members handed out pamphlets at the group’s registered table in the MSU’s student center. The pamphlets described the group’s values, planned activities, and views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Upon receiving complaints about the overtly political and “offensive” nature of the pamphlets, SGA Attorney General Demi M. Washington sent a “Letter of Sanction” to MSJP, condescending to the group, “Must I remind you, you are a cultural organization and not a political one.”

In no uncertain terms — and in complete violation of the group’s First Amendment rights — Washington warned MSJP that its political expression was unwelcome and unacceptable on MSU’s campus:

Montclair State is a university that unites students regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, nationality, gender or sexual preference. We do not take positions in political issues….

We have strict rules from the government on how to run the organization while remaining in non-profit status…. Part of the list of things we cannot be associated with is any political or lobbyist organization.

MSJP didn’t receive only a reprimand from Washington; her letter imposed a five percent fine on the group’s fall semester budget as well as an order that the group cease all “political propaganda.” Washington’s letter also warned that, unless MSJP focused its events solely on Palestinian culture rather than politics, the group’s charter would be revoked.

On October 3, FIRE sent a letter demanding that these sanctions be reversed and reminding the MSU administration and the SGA that such unfair treatment of a student group, based on the political nature of its speech, is unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination at a public university bound by the First Amendment." (thanks Lisa)

Shame on the students of UC, Berkeley

I have always been arguing with people who don't really know US Berkeley that the university does not really deserve its leftist reputation and that it is increasingly a corporate university and that the student body has become as apathetic as other campuses, and that sororities and fraternities are the new craze there.  I am not surprised that the university would invite an anti-Islam bigot like Bill Maher, but the fact that the student body would not mind having Maher as a commencement speaker speaks volumes about the standards of the students.  If Maher or another speaker says about Judaism what Maher says about Islam, students would be picketing the administration building, and faculty would be signing petitions.

For sale in Dubai

"In Joseph O’ Neill’s new novel set in Dubai, the American protagonist describes the brown migrant workers that make the city go round “as color coded ants swarming all over a construction site”.   Even less seemingly human are the women, the armies of workers doing domestic work that ensures that all habitations inhabited by the wealthy are clean and pristine.   The domestic workers in O’Neill’s novel are invisible; they inhabit the deeper recesses of the high rise building that he lives in, when he tries to talk to them, they run and retreat in fear. To be noticed bears the risk of being fired, and that for them is the end of the world.   He feels bad for them, these brown others, sentenced to such an existence, and like a good and guilt ridden American he donates a portion of his paycheck to the Human Rights Watch.   In life beyond the novel, the Human Rights Watch this week issued a report about just the people that so preoccupied the privileged American protagonist of O’Neill’s novel.

Their latest report “I Already Bought You” is a detailing of just how hapless the lives of domestic workers imported to the United Arab Emirates really are.   Beyond the day-long drudgery of cooking, cleaning, caring for children and other such chores are woeful tales of passports confiscated upon arrival, wages unpaid for months, sexual and physical abuse, confinement, and denial of adequate food and clothing.    In several cases, the report finds women are taken from labour exporting countries like Sri Lanka, the Philippines and others are trafficked to the Gulf under false pretenses to be forced into labour for months and years.   The misery doesn’t end there.    The very vocabulary that is used to describe these women shows how their status before their employers is basically one of slaves, the ones who try to escape from their deplorable situations are described as runaways, and fines are attached to them when they are captured.   When they are employed, they are purchased, just like any of the other goods available in Dubai’s endless malls and stores." (thanks Nabil)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Ashraf Ghani: the tributes continue

What is amazing about those tributes in the US press about Ashraf Ghani is that the man has been in office for WEEKS ONLY, damn it. Is that not too soon to make a verdict one way or another? I know that he is serious about reform and for that he chose Abdul-Karim Dustum as his first vice-president, but come on.  But in the article they tell a story about his promptness which was denied by the person involved and yet was used to his credit.  Also that the article lists among his achievements the signing of the treaty with the US.

The new Egypt

"Just months after they were appointed, 138 new prosecutors were removed from office in September 2013 following a ruling from the judiciary’s governing body that said only those born to parents with undergraduate degrees could join the state prosecution.

“We have nothing against the job of garbage collectors, but their sons belong in other fields than the judiciary, because it’s a sensitive job,” said Justice Ahmed Abdelrahman.

A year on, after failing to overturn the decision in the courts, they have asked for the intervention of the president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, whose parents did not attend university." (thanks Don)

Israeli soldiers kidnapped 278 Palestinians in September

"The Ahrar Center for Detainees Studies and Human Rights has issued its monthly report on Israeli arrests in West Bank and Gaza Strip during September. The report said that 278 Palestinians have been arrested and one was killed by Israeli soldiers."

Canada is shocked

"It is always stunning when a country that has brought violence and military force to numerous countries acts shocked and bewildered when someone brings a tiny faction of that violence back to that country." (thanks Amir)

Give it to Liz Sly: no matter what, she along still believes in the existence of "moderate" Syrian rebels

"Moderate Syrian rebels and activists living in Turkey say they often recognize men whom they suspect of belonging to the extremist group on the streets or in cafes frequented by Syrians."  She then says: "A popular Syrian fighter and former farmer who had earned renown for his persistence in confronting the Islamic State, Abu Issa had been fighting in Kobane before traveling to Sanliurfa a week before the incident to rest and consult with fellow rebels, according to Abu Shujaat."  And do you notice her tributes to Syrian rebels are all based on the accounts and claims of, you guessed it, Syrian rebels, and all of the claims are never ever verified by her. Why bother?

There is no Gulf royal sponsorship that does not impress David Ignatius Al Saud

"This tiny international organization, whose Arabic name means “guidance,” wants to be the softer face of the battle against such terror groups as the Islamic State. A brochure explains that if traditional counterterrorism efforts are perceived as soldiers with automatic weapons, Hedayah instead wants an image of kids sitting around a blackboard in a rural school. "

Greeted him like a returning king

"Streams of young Muslim men greeted him like a returning king.

As-salamu alaykum.

Wa alaikum assalaam."  This is normal greeting and there is nothing royal about it.  I am really sick and tired of this lazy and ignorant reporting.

Iraqi regime executions

"Iraqi authorities have executed at least 60 people this year, a U.N. report said Sunday, expressing concern that “irreversible mis­carriages of justice” were taking place in some death-penalty ­cases."

Liz Sly: her anthology of farcical propagananda

"The executioners, speaking in Tunisian, Egyptian and Saudi accents, taunted those not yet dead by swinging severed heads in front of their faces and telling them, “It’s your turn next.”" What a coincidence. Her Syrian rebels contact never ever admit that there are Syrians among those ISIS fighters. They always seem to have non-Syrian accents because the Syrian rebels are, of course, all moderates.

What gets covered in US media and what does not get covered

From Robert: "this DID get covered in US media.

Of course it had nothing to do with this:

Israel and the King of Jordan

"The Israeli ambassador to Jordan, Daniel Nevo, has said that "Israel couldn't dream of a better neighbour than Jordan," noting that the strategic relationship between the two countries is continuously developing...
...Nevo noted that such criticisms [of Israeli policy] are only made in the context of the Jordanian regime's attempt to contain public anger over what is occurring in Jerusalem and what happened in the Gaza Strip during the latest Israeli attack on Palestinians in Gaza, as well as an attempt to overcome the pressures put on Amman from other Arab and Islamic parties.
Nevo was also quoted as saying that all of the statements issued by Jordanian officials criticising Israel's policies have not prevented the continuous development of their bilateral relations, whether the exchange of intelligence, security coordination, trading, or economic cooperation between the two countries." (thanks Regan)

US chief Middle East ally fights Twitter

Religion and opium

If religion is the opium of the people, then Wahhabiyyah is the crack cocaine of the people.

Your freinds in Riyadh

From Michael: "" American policymakers continue to see Saudi Arabia as indispensable not because it has shown itself willing to change or develop a more inclusive and tolerant political order, but because it does not."

It is over: violent Islamic extremism is now officially dead

The US government came up with one of those brilliant schemes that only the US government can come up with: a center to fight extremism.  To host the center, the sons of Zayid in the UAE offered to host it given their democratic and enlightenment credentials. But what is curious is that the center does not identify the names of its board members or even the executive director.  It is all hush hush.

At least Hummus is not anti-Semitic

From Karim: "Your blog post yesterday on the possibly ‘divine’ explanation for the Israeli invention of hummus reminded me of this blog post from last year at The Guardian.
I had meant to pass it on to you at the time but never got around to it. Look at this paragraph (emphasis added):
The history of hummus can be traced back to at least the 13th century, when the first known recipes for it were recorded by Egyptian Arabs. But it is likely to date back much further. Chickpeas have been around for thousands of years in the Middle East, says Israeli-born chef Yotam Ottolenghi. Some scholars even claim an Old Testament passage indicates that Jews ate hummus in Biblical times.
So there you have it, it’s in the Old Testament!"

PS But where in the Old Testament, he didnt say.

Isareli Defense Minister

"Defense Minister Ya'alon: Middle East borders bound to change".  You bet they will change, and the most exciting change is that Israel will no more be there.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

suspected of being Arab in NYC

Hummus and Israel

It occurred to me that Israel only recently started to claim that Hummus is an Israeli dish. In the Israeli media and (stolen) "culture", there were no references about the Hummus craze until relatively recently the 1980s.  Yet, I grew up with Hummus (and "ful", fava beans) stores all over the cities and towns of the Lebanon.  So how is that explained? Is there a divine explanation for this one too?