Monday, July 31, 2006

what is an Arab life worth?

everyone should read the latest blog from riverbend T

The Elephant in the Room

Following the deaths in Qana of 62 people, of whom 32 were children, it seems that more world leaders are feeling the urgency of calling for an immediate ceasefire as they describe what happened in Qana as a crime against humanity. Of course it is, but did it really have to take the death of that many innocent lives at one time to make them see what has been happening in Lebanon for the past weeks for what it is!? I am also wondering how many more people must die before they see that unless they resolve the entire Israeli/ Palestinian problem fairly there will be no peace/security for any of us living in this region.

Unfortunately, and most depressing to me, is that George Bush is still in need of a better pair of glasses. Until now he hasn’t been able to see ‘the elephant in the room’.........z

Never Again!

Today is Monday, the 20th day of an unjust war in Lebanon waged by that state sponsor of terrorism: Israel.

More children are dying … more lambs to the slaughter … but it doesn't matter, cry the voices of freedom and democracy, because they are not worthy – they are Arab.

And now we have Qana all over again. In 1996 Israel targeted a UN post that was offering shelter to women and children, and then: carnage – Israel dropped its bombs made in the USA and slaughtered 100; one hundred beautiful women and children.

Why do the children have to die? Why do the peacekeepers of the United Nations have to die too?

Because Israel says so?


We say: Why do people have to be murdered in a refuge because they did not heed the "warning" of Israel to leave their homes, their land, their village, the only life they have?

Where does it say that Israel has the right to renege on any international treaty, be it the Rights of the Child, the UN Convention on Human Rights, the Fourth Geneva Convention, the rules of engagement in times of war? Where does it say that Israel has the right to blatantly disregard all UN resolutions against it? Where does it say that the Arab World must acquiesce to Israeli hegemony and American imperialism?

Will Israel be made to kneel in the face of justice and equality and stare its racism square between the eyes?

Will Arab leaders wake up and realize the courage that is required at this time of outrageous, wonton death and destruction, and heed the calls of their citizens for justice and peace for all, before they fall victim to the appeasement of Israel and the US?

The pain hangs heavy over us all in this embattled land. And I cannot bear it a moment longer.
People of the West think that the Second World War ended with the nuclear decimation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But for the peoples of the Middle East it never ended – a war of attrition waged by self serving western nations such as the US and UK and its proxy Israel. Too much history to sort out; too many changing facts on the ground that hide the truth. Too many weapons of mass destruction that destroy the truth. We need to find the courage to make peace for all.

On the wall in front of my computer I pinned a small piece of paper many years ago. It was written by a well respected American musician and radio announcer who passed through Jordan in the early 1980s, who put these words to music:

PALESTINE by Charles Metropolis

The birds have been scattered from their nest out of season
The sheep have been driven from their fold without a reason
Some children have never seen their home;
Who will free them?

The sun still shines the same upon the land
The mountains and the hills and every man
And yet there is the stain of oppression in the Land.

PALESTINE … you are deep within the heart
Of all the children of your land
Whose hopes in you are chained:

PALESTINE … like the fire that never dies
'Til freedom reigns beneath your skies
Faithful we will remain.

The sacred dove of peace our greatest possession
Is bleeding in the streets throughout the nation
And lying at the feet of occupation.

For those without a home, the memory grows more bitter
With each passing day and every freezing winter
With each passing day and every freezing winter."

"For with each passing day and every freezing winter, the memory grows more bitter". J

Saturday, July 29, 2006

against the odds

I have been lucky enough over the years to work with the Jordanian police and in 1997 I met a policewoman when we were setting up the Family Protection Department. She comes from an extremely poor family in Ramtha but always achieved academically and got one of the highest marks in the tawjihi in the Irbid area. Her ambition has always been to get a PhD and now she is on her way!!!

She first of all got a Chevening Scholarship (British Council) to the UK where she got an honours Master's Degree in Human Rights Law and now she has got a Fulbright Scholarship to study for her PhD at Northeastern University in Boston.

The police put so many obstacles in her way when she was awarded the Chevening and she had to postpone it for a year as the Director at the time would not let her go! Only as a personal favour did the next Director allow her to go. Unbelievable! You would have thought they would be so proud that one of their police women had got such a prestigious scholarship and it was not costing them a penny.

This time for the Fulbright, at the last moment, the police wanted a financial guarantee of JD 120,000 from her!! This from a woman who has less than nothing. After a lot of anxiety she finally asked one of the Members of Parliament from her area - Mr Fawaz Az Zoubi - if he could help and, bless his heart, he signed two pieces of land as a guarantee for the police that she would return to Jordan.

So, at the age of 35 and newly married she is setting off on another difficult adventure. I salute her and applaud her strength and wish her all success. T

Friday, July 28, 2006

Moab Musings 3

The Wadi Sakra construction site, courtesy of Muwared, more hideous development, the bigger the better they say. This site was once a verdant landscape, a valley, a green belt zone - a place of natural beauty for
the patients of the

Today is Friday, the one day of the week when I wake up to silence, but I didn't. The jack hammers and giraffes were at it from 7am. But it's Friday, a day of rest, why the rush. I went out. As I was driving home through Abdoun, the affluent part of Amman, I noticed a man rummaging through a public rubbish bin, a common sight around Amman for at least the last fifteen years. He was probably looking for anything salvageable, like discarded perfume bottles, tin cans or the odd trinket or two. He was a kind man, he was also throwing tidbits to a group of cats that had gathered around his feet. Flashback to the 1960s England and I was sitting watching the cartoon, Topcat, all over again. Flashback 1967. And someone said "Why don't those Arabs give the Jews some land … they have so much of it" I didn't understand why they said that then, I still don't. Words, empty, ignorant and stupid … and people were dying in an unjust war …

Fastforward to 2006, people were getting ready to demonstrate in Jerash, the Amman Governor had denied a group of Baathists, Communists and young people supporting Palestine to march inside Amman, for fear it would get out of hand; other people were preparing festivities to marry off the young, the muethin was getting ready to call the people to mid morning prayers, and the noise continues to permeate my bedroom all the way up from the Wadi Sakra Road. I wonder if that Hospital will withstand all that pounding from below?

All that pounding. A pregnant woman in the north of Jordan died from fright, too many fireworks going off these days; too much noise. Too much of everything, as the Middle East is thrust into yet another senseless war – in Lebanon of all places – our beautiful, vibrant jewel of the East, the soul of the Arab heartland that was emerging from the ashes … maybe that's why? We are sending out an SOS, but who cares?

Why the rush? Arabs continue to die in an unjust war … words don't change anything, only weapons do, we have learnt that from the UN, the US Secretary of State, the US president, the British PM and that perpetrator of crimes against humanity Olmert, the Israeli PM – another Anthony Eden (British PM 55-57) – we all pray. And as Jordan becomes the centre for humanitarian aid into Lebanon, my former country England, becomes the route for more deliveries of weapons of mass destruction into Israel.

Why the rush? Keep on killing, they all sing in unison at the United Nations. J

 Posted by Picasa

coming home

It is nice to be home!!!

Flying in from Singapore and Dubai makes it a bit unfair to criticise QAIA but disembarking from an Emirates flight into the rather tatty walkway is a bit of a come down. The first person I see when walking into the airport is a cheerful police officer puffing away on a cigarette (what are rules for but to be broken?). Up to the immigration desk to wait for 10 minutes, which is fine, and the very professional and polite immigration officers, then down to the luggage belt where I told two people off for smoking! The bags arrived promptly but the beltways are really not big enough to cope with the amount of luggage, then through customs and out to the rather messy car park. All in all a relatively good experience but hopefully the airport will be upgraded soon to give a good impression as a gateway to Jordan.

Last night at 9.10 it sounded as if World War III had broken out with an incredibly noisey display of fireworks at the Four Seasons Hotel, I immediately called them and they said they were getting many complaints. I think it is about time the Municipality banned fireworks in populated areas.

Now it is back to struggling with the mad driving and traffic jams. Who am I to complain about anything when all around us innocent people are suffering? But life has to go on. T

Lebanese bloggers

Zena Khalil - a Lebanese cultural activist and installation artist, epitomises the situation in Lebanon today, when she cries "war is exhausting"; "I don't have to get used to this" .....

... and so too does Mazen Kerbaj, artist, who is also getting tired.

Please don't tire, please don't ever get used to this.

We hear you loud and clear....

Why doesn't Kofi Anan hear you though?

Too much rice in his ears ...... ? J

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


"Why did the Israeli's destroy my house" says one Lebanese man who used to work as a customs officer at Beirut's International airport, "it took me twelve years to build … why did they do this?". He stands dumbfounded and angry – just a number to add to the many thousands of refugees trying to make sense of this madness, as his children huddle on a pavement in a place of refuge, probably Syria.

Enter stage right – USSS Condoleeza Rice

"Hello everyone, yes it's terrible, but we can't have a ceasefire just yet" – as her government sends more weapons of mass destruction to Tel Aviv, just in case.

But what about the children, the rampant destruction, the despair?

Rice: "Didn't see any. But it's time for a new Middle East"

But what about ….

Rice: "To quote my great leader, we believe that Hezbollah has to stop this shit and then we will wait and see until it's all over. Nothing happens until then."

All over for whom exactly?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Article "This one is for you"

by Yusuf Mansur, Jordan Times 25 July 2006

Thirteen years ago, my encounter with an Israeli family in the US left me with a hope for peace and a better tomorrow for all. Today, it pains me to think that their child, who played for countless hours with my son, may be the one who is dropping bombs on the children of Lebanon.
For a fresh PhD in economics from the University of Oklahoma, a teaching post at Texas A&M University was more than a godsend; it was a miracle with promises of untold academic glory. My Texan wife, who was also offered a post at the university, had our son attend a preschool in Bryan, Texas. After two weeks at school, my wife interrupted me in my research cubicle at home and asked: “Yusuf, guess who is your son’s best friend at school?”
She stated an Israeli name.
I said, fine! Jordan had not signed a peace agreement with Israel then, but my logic at the time was: Let them play... why trouble the children with the pains and follies of their elders? And they played.
The Israeli child came to our house; occasionally, I babysat him and my son, and watched them shoot hoops in my small backyard as I worked at an academic career that proved to be more work than pay. On one occasion, that child missed a basket; my son, with the innocence of a four-year-old, patted him on the back and said: “Don’t worry, I will score one for you!” As he went to throw the ball, he turned to his Israeli friend and said: “This one is for you!”
The friend, not to be outdone, returned the favour seconds later when my son missed the basket, and scored one for him too. “This one is for you,” he said.
They were two friends that played well together; they even stood up for each other against the bullies at school.
After several weeks, the child’s parents visited our home and we had dinner. They were both reservists in the Israeli army; they had guarded the borders with Jordan several years earlier. I never asked them about their military experience, we were all academics on neutral grounds, and they never volunteered any information. I, with no military experience and a disdain for politics and politicians, had nothing to mention on the topic. The conversations were guarded, yet pleasant and respectful. And the children played until they were tired and, exhausted, they slept in my son’s bed. They remained friends for the whole time until we returned to Jordan in 1994, where I witnessed, a year later, the signing of the peace agreement between Jordan and Israel.
Last month, my son, now 17, together with his mom, myself and grandparents who were visiting from the US, visited the elegant campus of the American University of Beirut (AUB), where he was accepted as a freshman. Beirut was abuzz with life; everything was coming into place, the country was a marvel of sun and sea, tourists and Lebanese were everywhere celebrating life, Fairouz songs played everywhere, and beauty abounded in this hub of art and culture.
“The Lebanese people made the difference,” I thought to myself; they love their Lebanon so much that they are willing, after a 25-year civil war and 18 years of Israeli occupation, to rebuild it and make it even more glorious today than it ever was. “What a wonderful nation,” my mind kept whispering as I drove back to Jordan; they scoured the world for all that is worthy of their country and brought it home; they poured their lives into rebuilding every corner of this wonderful place; and they succeeded.
Lebanon was to be envied, I decided. We all had a great time.
Last week my son went to the United States, not to AUB, to continue his schooling. His friends who hadn’t bothered apply elsewhere are stranded, waiting for the destruction to stop, hoping to return to that beacon of civilisation that is now dimmed... yes, dimmed, not dead.
Now Lebanon lies helplessly and mercilessly marauded by Israeli warplanes, with hundreds of people dead by careless Israeli attacks. Why? Because Hizbollah captured two Israeli soldiers!! Never mind the 10,000 Palestinians, some captured not on battle grounds but in the still of the night or by stealth from their homes, whose families await their release while the world stands deaf to the cries of mothers and fathers who patiently await the release of their loved ones. Never mind, also, even though one really should, the Israeli prisons brimming with Lebanese prisoners, some never in combat against the occupier!
Can the crime, if it can be called that, justify the act? Is there a written equation that says two Israeli hostages are worth more than 350 Lebanese lives? Wouldn’t the release of some prisoners have been the more humane response of the strong and mighty Israel? How much is an Arab’s life worth? How much is an Arab country worth?
After bidding my son farewell, I went back to my office, sad that he would go so far away. I opened my e-mail and saw pictures of the corpses of Lebanese children killed in the Israeli attacks. The last group of pictures showed Israeli children writing messages on artillery shells that were to be lobbied against their counterparts in Lebanon. Beautiful, innocent children, writing hate messages on missiles that would be dropped on other children.
I pray none had the statement: “This one is for you!”
Questions and comments can be directed at:
Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Monday, July 24, 2006

"And the irony is ..."

All we seem to be able to do these days is read, throw things at the tv – and drive ourselves even crazier when the truth is so obvious to those of us who live in the Middle East – there is no justice nor truth when Israel is involved - that state sponsor of terror, and damn anyone who tries to point it out.

"Anti-semite!" someone screams from afar – now that's a misnomer if ever there was one, for the simple reason that the word "semite/semitic" (long manipulated by Zionists for political grandstanding) was a term coined in the 18th century by a French anthropologist to refer to a group of languages spoken by the tribal peoples of Arabia – Arabic and Hebrew amongst them.

This morning I was thinking of letting you know about Juan Cole – a professor of Middle East and South Asian History at University of Michigan – and a respected analyst on Middle East Politics, when I received the following:ً

Juan Cole's weblog "Informed Comment" seems to be a common web stop for many of the world's best journalists….why can't we have people like this as leaders of the so-called civilized world?? Maybe it's because he does not see the irony the way Bush and his cronies see it:

"See the irony is, what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it’s over.” -- George W. Bush

Headlines: US sends 'smart' bombs to Israel

The American National Anthem

The Star-Strangled Banner - New Version

O say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we helped destroy at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro' the perilous fight,
O'er the skies of Beirut, were lamentably streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro' the night that our policies aren't fair.
O how can that star-strangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave? ......z

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Alternative Media
Asia Times Online - please read.
Haaretz - as one commentator noted "Finally the voice of reason from Haaretz"
Want a laugh...?

Green light to Massacre

Outside the UNDP office in Amman, Jordan.

Just about sums up the current situation from Baghdad to Beirut via Gaza. J Posted by Picasa

We Protest!

Thursday 20 July 2006 - protest rally outside the offices of UNDP - stop - protesting Israeli war crimes in Gaza and Lebanon - stop - I went - stop: but couldn't say a word.

So these pictures will have to do to express the anger, disgust and disbelief at political ineptitude in the face of hostile, racist, arrogant, criminal .... Israeli practices in Palestine and Lebanon - that we in the Arab world have had to live with for decades - a policy that targets innocent civilians and blames the victims time and time again.

Israel flaunts international agreements, the Geneva Convention on Human Rights, disregards UN resolutions (just look at the hypocrisy - Lebanon blown to shreds because it "did not" implement UN resolution 1559 and holds three prisoners of war - Israel holds 10,000 including women and children; the Arabs and Palestinians are still waiting for Israel to implement over 60 UN resolutions, in particular 242, 338 and 194) and basically gets away with murder in the name of its own security and right to exist.

And just for the record the US has vetoed 41 draft resolutions deemed 'critical of Israel" starting in 1972 right up to the present. They include calls for cessation of hostilities to implementation of the Fourth Geneva Convention in relation to Palestinian refugees; numerous ones on Israeli illegal action in South Lebanon and Israeli wholesale settlement activity on occupied land - ie Palestine.

The founding fathers of the United Nations (united ...huh that's a joke) must be turning in their graves. Today we live in a world of survival of the wealthiest; what's yours is now mine; neoconservatism and zionism have become the yardstick by which the world will be beaten into shape. The Middle East is now officially the Western testing grounds for ever gruesome and cruel weapons of mass destruction and the term "divide and rule" becomes uglier by the minute. Gone are the values that man aspired to once upon a time.

Gone too are the statesmen of yesteryear; Gandhi sums up the present when he says "an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind".

And dumb too! J Posted by Picasa

looking from afar

I am not ashamed to be British but I am totally ashamed of the British government. I just cannot believe that they are condoning and supporting the Israeli agression in Lebanon. It certainly is a world gone mad where human values seem to be thrown out of the window by those very countries who hold themselves up to be pillars of democracy and civililization. Pah!!! T

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Obscene Aggression

Obscene, immoral, disgusting….there are not enough words to describe my thoughts concerning the Israeli aggression in Lebanon and Gaza!

But what’s wrong with me? Why am I surprised? After living here more than 40 years, why should I expect anything else??

I guess that my innate core, within my soul, believes that there are good people in this world who have good intentions and live with integrity….that’s why I continue to be caught off balance.

The world that I was raised in, where the Unites States stood out as a land of values that others vied to emulate no longer exists. Instead it is now a cruel, callous, calculating country that instead of using all of its resources to stop the awful bloodletting actually stands aside and allows it to happen. Instead of using all of its power and wealth to halt the destruction of a sovereign Lebanon, it evacuates its nationals, allowing Israel to hit the country with impunity. Instead of sending its leadership to mediate a ceasefire within hours of battle, it sits back and waits and watches the death and destruction occur before their eyes.

Now I hear that “my country” is going to rush precision guided bombs to Israel to aid in striking their targets. Now, let’s see, more than half a million Lebanese have been displaced, several hundred are dead, the infrastructure of Lebanon has been, or is in the process of being destroyed, and yet it is now necessary to help the Israelis by improving their destructive capabilities?

I just don’t get it! What happened to the American values that I used to be so proud of? Either they have changed, or, what I really believe, my “mother land” is being held hostage by a bunch of very sick, very frightening people who just happen to be the President and the bulk of his administration! How horrible to think that we still have 2 more years of this terrifying bunch!! Iraq wasn’t enough for them and now, God only knows what havoc they will be allowed to wreck in the months ahead.

The Road Back to Beirut

I cannot find the words to describe the ground swell of negative emotion and pain I wake up with every morning and think of the suffering in the land of Arabia at the hands of an Israeli military machine gone mad in a state that has become a pariah. Israel .... wake up .... you have broken your promise with God .... you are destroying the other half of Abraham's seed ... in a land that was always shared ... you are, afterall, in the Land of Arabia.

And so I will share with you the words of a journalist whose writing does sum it all up:

Jordan Times, Friday-Saturday, July 21-22, 2006

The road back to Beirut

Rami G. Khouri

I must be one of the few people in the world trying to get into Beirut, rather than flee the city that is being bombarded daily by Israel, with explicit American approval. Israelis should grasp the significance of this, if they ever wish to find peace and a normal life in this region.
My wife and I were on a personal trip in Europe when the fighting broke out last week and we could not return directly to our home in Beirut. So we have returned to our previous home in Amman in order to find a reasonably safe land route back into Lebanon. I want to return mainly because steadfastness in the face of the Israeli assault is the sincerest — perhaps the only — form of resistance available to those of us who do not know how to use a gun, and prefer not to do so in any case, for there is no military solution to this conflict.
Of the many dimensions of Israel’s current fighting with Palestinians and Lebanese, the most significant in my view is the continuing, long-term evolution of Arab public attitudes to Israel. The three critical aspects of this are: a steady loss of fear by ordinary Arabs in the face of Israel’s military superiority; a determined and continuous quest for more effective means of technical and military resistance against Israeli occupation and subjugation of Palestinians and other Arabs; and, a strong political backlash against the prevailing governing elites in the Arab world who have quietly acquiesced in the face of Israeli-American dictates.
The Lebanon and Palestine situations today reveal a key political and psychological dynamic that defines several hundred million Arabs, and a few billion other like-minded folks around the world. It is that peace and quiet in the Middle East require three things: Arabs and Israelis must be treated equally; domestically and internationally the rule of law must define the actions of governments and all members of society; the core conflict between Palestine and Israel must be resolved in a fair, legal and sustainable manner.
Because these principles are ignored, we continue to suffer outbreaks of military savagery by Israelis and Arabs alike, for the sixth decade in a row. The flurry of international diplomacy this week to calm things down was impressive for its range and energy. But it will fail if it only aims to place an international buffer force between Hizbollah and Israel, and leave the rest of the Arab-Israeli situation as it is.
Protecting Israel has long been the primary focus and aim of Western diplomacy, which is why it has not succeeded. For decades now Israel has established buffer zones, occupation zones, red lines, blue lines, green lines, interdiction zones, killing fields, surrogate army zones, scorched earth, and every other conceivable kind of zone between it and Arabs who fight its occupation and colonial policies — all without success. Here is why: Protecting Israelis while leaving Arabs to a fate of humiliation, occupation, degradation and subservient acquiescence to Israeli-American dictates only guarantees that those Arabs will regroup, plan a resistance strategy, and come back one day to fight for their land, their humanity, their dignity and the prospect that their children can have a normal life one day.
In the past two decades, with every diplomatic move to protect Israel’s borders and drive back Arab foes, the response has been a common quest to strike Israel from afar — because the core dispute in Palestine remains unresolved. Three Arab parties to date developed missiles of various sorts that can strike Israel from greater and greater distances. Iraq, Hamas and Hizbollah have all fired rockets and missiles at Israel, making the concept of buffer zones militarily obsolete and politically irrelevant. New buffer zones imposed by the international community to protect Israel, while leaving Arab grievances to rot, will only prompt a greater determination by the next generation of young Arab men and women to develop the means to fight back, some day, in some way that we cannot now predict.
Piecemeal solutions and stopgap measures will not work any more. Ending these kinds of military eruptions requires a more determined effort to resolve the core conflict between Israel and Palestine. This would then make it easier to address equally pressing issues within Arab countries, such as Hizbollah’s status as an armed resistance group or militia inside Lebanon, which itself is a consequence of Israeli attacks against Lebanon and the unresolved Palestine issue.
In Israel’s determination to protect itself and the parallel Arab determination to fight back, we have the makings of perpetual war — or, for those willing to be evenhanded for once, an opening for a diplomatic solution that responds simultaneously to the legitimate rights of both sides.
In the meantime, I keep looking for a reasonably safe route back to our home in Beirut. Standing with the people of Lebanon in their moment of pain is the highest form of solidarity I can think of, and also the only meaningful form of defiance and resistance to Israel that I — and several hundred million other Arabs — can practise at the moment.

Thursday, July 20, 2006


While American and Israeli bombs rain down onto the land of Lebanon, men, women and children, whoever they are, pay with their lives; lives scorched beyond recognition, blown to bits into the branches of a tree, or the forecourt of a car show room - another turkey shoot reminiscent of the early days of the first war on Iraq.

And so what does Bush do in his infinite wisdom for the world - he excercises his right of veto - not just at the UN (that was expected) but also along the corridors of power of Washington and vetoes:

... embryonic stem cell research.

And the reason why ...

"The president had long vowed to veto the bill because of his deeply held moral beliefs that destroying human life is wrong -- even in its earliest form ..."

...unless you happen to be born an Arab semite.

Life and its curve balls - but curve balls only get played in american games, I hear you thinking - - right again, this is the mother of all curve ball games - that I shall call a RAT = racism, arrogance, and the ultimate: terrorism, all enacted on the embattled lands of Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq. J

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

from Singapore

Driving round Singapore is endlessly fascinating. From the skyline of hundreds of tall office towers and huge apartment blocks to the shophouses, old colonial houses and shopping malls. Then you notice churches, mosques, temples, synagogues. All the religious feasts are celebrated here. I know the Singapore Government actually encourages inter-faith activities but it is so heart warming seeing so many faiths living together harmoniously (or so it seems).

The Middle East seems so far away and events there do not affect here apart from the money aspect, as so much energy trading is done from Singapore.

I can only read on the internet the newspapers and various comments from around the world and just wonder why the millions of Arabs cannot get themselves together and isolate Israel. Dream on!!!!!! T

Alternative Media

Want another take on media coverage of this criminal war in Lebanon - then go to

Moab Musings 2

I thought I should post something my husband said this morning as I made my way to the bathroom and paused - the Israelis bombed a toilet paper factory in the south of Lebanon......?

He also said this:

"Have I lost my feelings, my senses, my humanity? After fifty years of wars, bloodshed and the sight of blown up men, women and children, this question came to my mind because for no reason I know, I watch this little war in Lebanon and Gaza with a disturbing sense of curiosity instead of despair. Its deadly results seem to erase the boring stalemate in that ridiculous process called peace.

What am I watching?

Am I watching 'the theatre of the absurd' with a little sheikh and his little band of militia men facing and humilitating the fifth strongest military power in the world - that gang of suicidal, paranoid extremists - Israel.

Or am I watching 'a mime' with 250,000,000 Arabs playing the part of three monkeys "see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil" ...

.... possibly I have become a monkey myself.....?"

And for anyone interested in the health of the Lebanese and Palestinian people, check out the WHO link for all situation reports. J

Monday, July 17, 2006

One Side of the Picture

"One Side of the Picture" by RAMZY BAROUD, 9 July 2006

RACISM is "the belief that one 'racial group' is inferior to another and the practices of the dominant group aims to maintain the inferior position of the dominated group. Often defined as a combination of power, prejudice and discrimination." This is how the British Library wished to define racism on its web site. The above definition hardly deviates from the essence of almost all definitions of the ominous concept. And indeed, the concept is being fully utilised as I write these words in the Gaza Strip, with Israel's onslaught against the Palestinians and the international community.
The capture of Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit is a clear act of self-defence. One of America's top and most courageous international law professors wrote to me this week: "Insist on calling Gilad Shalit a prisoner of war, for he is one."
Well, maybe according to international law and the Geneva Conventions, but not CNN, Fox News and the increasingly spineless BBC, that insist on presenting the solider (with an overt emphasis on his young age) as a victim, who was "kidnapped" by Palestinian "militants", who are "affiliated" with the Hamas government, and that Israel is doing its outmost to free him, insisting that there can be "no negotiations with terrorists."
If reporters stationed with the invading Israeli soldiers, amassed in and around the Gaza Strip fail to communicate these assertions themselves, then they will do all they can to ensure that they are communicated by Israeli military spokespersons or 'experts', both seem to convey the same ideas. By not challenging the Israeli narrative in any meaningful way, and dumping it on hapless viewers all around the world, the uncritical media has become a tool in the hands of Israel's war strategists and their eternal concoctions.

Consider this for example:
An Israeli military commander tells a BBC correspondent dispatched to the border area between Israel and Gaza, that Israel intends on opening the border for "as long as it takes" to offset the humanitarian crisis developing in Gaza. The Israeli army representative in a barefaced lie declares that the border has always been open, despite the perpetual Palestinian 'threat' to the state of Israel. The BBC correspondent thanks him sincerely and signs off. I, in turn, throw my remote control at the television.
Is it possible that the BBC and its mighty researchers are unaware of Hamas' democratic ascent to power through the January 2006 elections?
Could it be that the Western media has missed the dozens of shocking reports, including some by the World Bank, that have warned that theIsraeli siege, which began months before the capture of Shalit was soon to create chaos and panic among the already malnourished Palestinians in Gaza?
Did they all miss statements by top Israeli officials, vowing to carry on with the siege until the ouster of Hamas?

Well, maybe.

For someone who has spent many years in this business, I can testify that some reporters misrepresent facts out of ignorance, not by design. But if that indeed was the case, then how can one excuse the fact that the same media that coined the term "kidnapping" to describe the action of the Palestinian fighters who captured Shalit, refused to use the same association to describe the kidnapping of most of the elected Palestinian cabinet, mostly academics with no affiliation to any militant wing of any sort.
Israel's military spokesman insisted that they are "all terrorists" and Israel, "like any democratic" country has the right to protect itself against terrorists.
If they were indeed terrorists, as Israel claims, why did Israel refrain from kidnapping them until Palestinian fighters embarrassed the mighty Israeli army and captured their first prisoner of war in a long time, Shalit? Is 'rounding up' Palestinian ministers and scores of legislators the same as having a soldier captured in what has been for long a one-sided Israeli war?

If you are an avid viewer of Fox News or a reader of the New York Times, then Israel is yet to exceed its legitimate legal boundaries, that of a democracy opting to defend its citizens. But only utter racism can lead to such rationale.

Only a racist media presents the kidnapping of 9,000 Palestinians, now in Israeli jails, as a just outcome of Israel's routine arrests of Palestinian terrorists or potential terrorists. Only racism can play down the Israeli destruction of Gaza's infrastructure or the little infrastructure that it still possesses (since Israel has already destroyed a great deal).
The sabotage of Gaza's electricity, thus water supplies, its bridges and universities is justified without question, for such actions are necessary to impede the militants efforts from transporting its soldier to another hideout.
And yet, Israel is praised for its 'generous' act of allowing some food to be transferred to hungry Gazans, who ironically have gone hungry because of the Israeli spearheaded international campaign to punish Palestinians for electing Hamas.
Only racism can completely remove from the current discourse the murder of dozens of Palestinian civilians at the hands of the Israeli army (90 civilians in seven weeks) as the reason that led to the Palestinian raid on the Israeli army post and the capture of Shalit; instead depicting the current escalation as if it was entirely the work of the Palestinians, with Israel's slate still clean.
Indeed, Israel's slate will continue to be clean as long as racism and inequality are the concepts according to which this conflict is explained. Israel has the right to collectively punish, starve to death, kidnap democratically elected civilian ministers and try them "in accordance with Israeli law", destroy its neighbours' infrastructure, instigate a humanitarian disaster, assassinate at will, violate international law without hesitation, because Israel is not Palestine, and the lives and well being of the residents of Israel, at least some of them, cannot be equated with Palestinians.

Turn the tables for a moment, and you'll understand how repellent such racism is. Inequality has always been at the heart of this conflict, the late Professor Edward Said used to say.
Racism is at the heart of inequality, I must add. The media can be ignorant, biased, self-serving indeed, but it can also be racist, utterly racist.

Arab American journalist Ramzy Baroud can be reached at
His latest book, The Second PalestinianIntifada: A Chronology of a People's Struggle (Pluto Press, London) is now available at

Moab Musings

The noise continues today as it has done for the last five months along the Wadi Sakra valley, masking the horrors of the sounds of the mighty Israeli military as it bombs its way through Gaza and Beirut casually blowing away runways, bridges, public offices and homes – oh and a few men, women and children along the way – but that's immaterial – the Israelis are looking for 3 live (note: live) soldiers – captured as prisoners of war to make a point and wake the world up from its slumber.

Doesn't matter if you are 1 year old or 75 these days when the Israeli military has a plan. And if you are an Arab - great because arab lives are unequal to Israeli ones, apparently. And if you are a leader of the Arabs – blah, blah, blah – 'don't look at me for a solution', says Amr Musa, 'and the peace process is dead', is all they can say – "it's Jordan's fault". Great! Now I can sleep at night … knowing that. "Your careers are dead" can't help thinking and look up the Daily Star newspaper in Beirut for some real reporting.

And this is what I read:
"In the south, a 75-year-old Palestinian woman was found dead after being wounded by Israeli tank shelling, local medical sources said. Fatima Jadallah was wounded in the thigh when tanks opened fire on a neighborhood near Gaza's destroyed international airport in Rafah, but she bled to death before the ambulance could arrive because of continued shelling. Another 20 people were wounded, including a woman and a baby, by sporadic gunfire and Israeli shelling in the northern incursion, medical sources said. On the ground, dozens of Palestinians living on the edges of Beit Hanun were fleeing their homes and taking shelter in UN-run schools in the nearby Jebaliya refugee camp, witnesses said."
The article continues:
"Last night my son said: 'Mummy, I can't move my arms anymore because I'm frightened.'"
"We haven't been able to wash our children for four days," said Aisha's husband, Adel Massoud Rajab.

… all the while the sonic booms of the mighty Israeli Jets continue to strafe the hell hole that is Gaza while mothers try and nurse their children to sleep – but they can't; … I wonder what you would do?

And in the meantime did you know that since April 2006 the Israeli authorities stop entry to Palestinians returning to their homes and lives in the Occupied Territories/Gaza and/or Israel if they also have dual nationality and therefore hold a second passport? No? didn't think so!

… and the Palestinians continue to hope that "humankind will one day hear the voice of its conscience." J

PS when I can work out why blogger won't upload my photos, you will eventually get some views of the Wadi Sakra Valley in full motion.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Stone of Shmeisani

... and the people of Arabia roamed and wandered throughout the desert landscape and carved their footprints into the sands of time ... and continue to walk up and up until they find ... a plastic bag neatly wrapped in the shape of an envelope - a symbol of everlasting hope ... to deliver us from God knows what .... J Posted by Picasa

And now for something completely different ...

Delectable 'turmus' for a summer of Middle Eastern delights - great for throwing around the room or at the nearest sibling to vent off the anger ....

Always a delight to talk to street vendors; philosophical to the core, with a warm, friendly and inner peace that is comforting;

...there's definitely something about turmus ... J Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 14, 2006

World War Free

To whom it may concern:

The only words that I can think of to describe the gut wrenching trauma of current events in the Middle East are:

Can we please have a world war free?

... or is that another stupid question?


Thursday, July 13, 2006

from Singapore

I know there are terrible things going on in the Middle East and there is so much to say on that subject but I am in Singapore at the moment and wanted to write about the traffic.

I noticed that one never sees traffic police on the roads here,everyone abides by the laws because the punishments are so harsh. Also road layout and design helps to keep a good flow of traffic even if it maybe slow at times.

If you are caught using your mobile whilst driving your licence is taken away. All the roads are clearly marked with left and right arrows for lane turnings. There are also large yellow stripes in the middle of cross roads so that if the traffic piles up in front you are not allowed to stop in the yellow area so that it keeps the middle of the roads clear. Not like the end of Mecca Street going down to Wadi Saqra where everyone has to go and to hell with people coming the other way if it is blocked! Pedestrians are also controlled with barriers on the roads with crossing points every so often. We could certainly learn a lesson from Singapore as far as controlling traffic is concerned, and it would save the police in Jordan a lot of money as they have to have so many traffic police officers. It is up to the Government and Parliament to introduce some strong laws and the Municipalities to design their roads in a better way. T

Part two of Dawn of a New Day

Just heard the news ... as I was packing my husband's suitcase for a trip to Beirut ... waste of time, the Israeli Mafia is at it again (Gaza and Baghdad is obviously not enough) - Beirut International Airport's runway has just been blown to smitherines .... and the madness continues .... J

"The Israelis have just gone mad
they are such stupid people; so sad

Unless the children of the holocaust cease
to grease their guns;
their arrogance; their hate;
There will be no peace
and death will surely be their fate.

Please tell the Palestinian Martyr's cry
to Leaders of the Arab League

'can you please go away and die
before history tells your story
and in shame your memory will lie'."

Dawn of a new day

As my husband woke up early this morning to the sound of the jack hammer removing the valley along the Wadi Sakra road, I asked him for a quote for the day - but here are his thoughts:

"The tree is tall
My wife went to the Mall
Life is a ball
Boucing and echoing in an empty hall ...."

and then he adds:

"can somebody please put on my head this bloody shawl
so that I don't continue to see Gaza's fall and
Baghdad's hole in the wall"


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Yes!! It looks much better now that someone moved those ugly garbage bins. Thank you........z

 Posted by Picasa

Monday, July 10, 2006

Of Ships and the Red Sea

View of the Al Salam Manzoni 94 from Royal Yacht Club, Aqaba

Woke up at five today – had to catch a boat, the Sindbad, at Taba Marina to take us to Aqaba at 7 and then home to Amman in time for the world cup final – very pleasant trip, courtesy of Captain Tha'er and his company, until that is, the coastline of Aqaba came into view – blocked by a monstrous mound of rusty metal.

As you can see from this picture this dilapidated ship is none other than the sister ship of the Al Salam 98 - the Egyptian ferry that sank and drowned 1,033 people in the Red Sea on route to Safaga in Egypt in February 2006. And it only has ten life boats ....

What, you may ask, is it doing in the waters off the coast of Aqaba – an eye sore for everyone on shore? Apparently its owner, Mamdouh Ismail is on the run and yet some 'people' are talking about turning this ugly piece of junk into a hotel ship, permanently anchored in the waters off Aqaba.

All I can think is doesn't Aqaba have enough hotels – without another polluting our sea water? And why do we always take other peoples' rubbish – whether it's second hand cars, or reconditioned tyres - they are all an environmental hazard.

Ship, go home, back to wherever you came from – Egypt, Italy or Panama (country of registration and future abode of owner??). That ship should then be sold off for scrap metal and the monies raised should go to the survivors and families of the victims of that outrageous accident that should never have happened in the first place.

PS – did you know that ships get registered in Panama and raise the Panamanian flag to avoid less rigorous safety regulations in their own country … something I read off a Chinese website …!! J

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Opening Gates Irony!

This is the story of a wonderful humanitarian group called “Voices in the Wilderness” and an Iraqi man who befriended and began working for them in 1996. Unfortunately, due to the present conditions in Iraq, revealing his name might endanger him, therefore, I will refer to him as “M”, but he and his family will have to remain nameless. 1996 was the year that Voices was formed to nonviolently challenge the economic warfare being waged by the US against the people of Iraq, and they began to deliberately violate the US/UN sanctions by soliciting and transporting medical supplies to Iraq.

For the next 7 years this man, translated, provided and protected approximately 70 “Voices” delegations, driving them between Amman and Baghdad as well as within Iraq itself. Although educated with a highly skilled degree, his job had been terminated due to the economic conditions the sanctions had caused and he began to take any job that he could get which would provide for his family. This led him to become a driver and through some twist of fate, the invaluable component needed by the Voices to make their work effective and efficient.

It became apparent soon after the American led invasion in 2003, that Iraq was becoming too dangerous for even humanitarian groups such as the Voices. Reluctantly, they began to leave Iraq leaving their many friends and acquaintances behind, including their dear friend and driver, “M”. He, with great sadness in his voice had said when the American troops arrived in Baghdad that Iraq was no longer just his country, that it now also belonged to Americans….a statement that really hit the hearts of his Voices friends.

Although they were no longer in Iraq, those from Voices in the Wilderness did not forget “M” and a couple of years ago, they managed to get him a tourist visa to visit them in America. For one month he traveled around the country visiting his Voices friends, hosted in their homes on funds that they provided. While there he explored the possibility of continuing his education and was able to get a full scholarship offer where he could get his Masters Degree, all expenses paid. This was an agonizing thought, on one hand here was an opportunity to further his education which could make him more marketable world wide, and on the other hand, there was the knowledge that he would have to leave his wife and children behind in increasingly unsafe Baghdad.

Returning to Baghdad, he consulted with his wife and his family asking them whether he dared to grab this opportunity, knowing full well the cost it would mean to them. The decision was finally made but en route to Amman to fly to the states to begin his studies in late August, the car he was in suffered a terrible accident just outside of Baghdad when the driver tried to avoid hitting an elderly man crossing the road. The driver, a friend of his was killed and he suffered a fracture to his left leg, broken collarbone, lacerations to the face and foot and had to undergo an operation which left him with two screws in his leg. It looked like his chances to begin his studies this year were over but no, with only a few days to go before the window of opportunity closed to use his student visa, “M” made the dangerous, grueling trip to Amman and from there to the States, arriving with his leg swollen to 3 times its normal size.

Although he began his course one month after classes began, “M” managed to get straight A’s the entire year despite also being hospitalized for 4 days due to a blood clot in his leg. Naturally he missed his wife and children desperately and after consulting an immigration lawyer, decided not to risk a trip home for the summer, as he had only a single entry on his student visa and should he leave, the chances were that he would not be allowed back in the States to finish his studies. Therefore, he began to investigate the possibility of bringing his family to the States. After acquiring all the necessary guarantees and paperwork, they were given an appointment for an interview at the American Embassy in Amman. For some unknown reason, despite having a US embassy in Baghdad with 3,000 workers, Iraqis must travel the life-threatening road to Jordan to apply for their visas at the US embassy there.

Therefore, in mid June, “M’s” wife and children braved the dangerous 12 hour drive across the Iraqi desert to Jordan. Unfortunately when they arrived they were not allowed in and had to turn around and drive back to Baghdad with stamps in their passports that showed that they had been denied entry. This is when I got an email, with only 2 days left before their appointment at the American Embassy, asking me if there was anything I could do to help them gain entry should they attempt the trip to Jordan again. Thankfully, after more than 40 years in Jordan, I knew the right person to ask to try to help, my husband’s office assistant who seems to know everyone in Jordan.. Her contacts, in turn, took it upon themselves to see that, despite the offending stamps, this simple young family would be allowed to come into Jordan so that they could keep their American Embassy appointment. Although the assurances I got that they would be allowed in proved to be right, the family ended up, after the agonizing drive, waiting for 9 hours at the border for this to happen. This meant that they arrived in Amman the morning of the appointment, but too late to make it.

The one component that I have yet to mention is that on this side, waiting for them was one of “M’s” friends from “Voices”. In anticipation of their arrival she had rented a small apartment and had gone daily to the American Embassy to let them know that the family might not be able to make their scheduled visit. She was assured that they would then be given another date and was therefore shocked when, yes, another date was given, but not before 3 weeks…meaning that the 1 week entry visa that they received at the Jordan border would expire many days before.

This is where the irony sets in. I, American born, American citizen living in Jordan, was able, due to a tremendous effort and kindness on the part of many people, to overturn this family’s original ban to enter Jordan. But despite all attempts, with the help of additional friends and acquaintances, I am unable to gain them entry into the American Embassy before the date that has been stamped on their appointment paper. The information that was given by someone in the consulate was that unless there was a death or a medical emergency, the interview date couldn’t be changed.

How unbending can one get?? Yes, I know that there are great demands on the embassy staff, but surely there is always, or should always be, room for an occasional exception. After the drama that this family has been through one would hope that a sympathetic ear would be available…but alas, no luck so far.

Now it looks like I will need to appeal to my contacts again to see if we can get the Jordanian authorities to grant a visa extension to the family. This only underlines, once again, the irony of this situation. Here I am, as an American, able to open the gates of Jordan for these people, but I can’t open for them the gates to my own embassy!!!