Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Know Jordan Photo 10 answer - and a bit more musings.

I am standing on a balcony overlooking the little stream of Ein Ghazzal, polluted and struggling for survival and I look towards the town on the hill that is Marka. This is where our medical and aviation services evolved into national institutions of great achievement over decades of pioneering work. But I also see a culture struggling for survival under the immense onslaught of uncontrolled, profiteering, capitalism that diminishes the soul and turns a whole country and its lands ‘up for sale’.

The President of America arrives on our embattled lands today. What can I say? The words that seem appropriate, like ‘you are not welcome Bush the Busht’, as my husband calls him - seem totally inadequate. Truth, integrity, compassion, the fight for peace not war, don’t mean anything to this man on a mission of destruction, be it in Iraq or Palestine, or Lebanon, or even what’s waiting around the corner for Iran and Syria. “We will complete the mission in Iraq” he says, as the daily carnage of innocent human beings increases by the hour. What does ‘mission accomplished’ mean exactly – the total annihilation of the cradle of civilisation??

Callous, conniving and cruel, violent, domineering, arrogant and racist – in a word ‘fascist’ - are words that come to mind when one thinks about the Bush Administration’s despicable foreign policy.

On this day, I mourn for lost opportunities, statesmanship and the courage to wage peace – that is all I can do, unlike Malachi Ritscher – who chose a different path. J

Sunday, November 26, 2006

tins of plants

These cans remind me of the sixties when I first came to Amman and the verandah of my mother-in-law had these tins full of jasmine, geraniums, hydrangeas etc. She came from Damascus in the forties and brought this Syrian custom with her. T

James Bond

What a fantastic film Casino Royale is - two and a quarter hours of pure entertainment. Most enjoyable and how dishy is Daniel Craig? He brings a real edge to the character of James Bond. T

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Bush visit

ok, so President Bush is coming to Jordan in a few days. Should we think of a way to peacefully protest? One suggestion is to print SHAME on a piece of paper and stick it on the back window of our cars.

Any ideas out there? T

Thursday, November 23, 2006

new cabinet

It is interesting to read the bios of the new ministers as they all seem to be in their sixties. Do you suppose experience (and wisdom) does come with age? Where are all the young energetic men or women? Why have they been overlooked? T

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in America. It has always been my favorite holiday because it is about family and food – and life doesn’t get much better than that!

It has simple religious and national overtones which are also pleasant. The pilgrims/immigrants to America’s eastern shores who survived their first harsh winter made a day of thanksgiving. The day was to follow the harvest and all were to give thanks to God for the food that sustains life. Profound in its simplicity, this custom is certainly not exclusively American. It is universal to all people.

Jordanians put tremendous importance on family and food daily, and the thanksgiving message to God is embedded in their language at every turn. The fact that we in America single out one day a year for this and then consider ourselves content is amazing. Of course, family traditions vary everywhere, but for a nation to set aside one day in a year, where the prime motive is for families to come together to eat, is hardly worthy of admiration. Regardless, it’s still my favorite traditional holiday and I wish all A Very Happy Thanksgiving – wherever you are.


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Know Jordan photo 10

I am standing on a balcony, overlooking what ... and where?

Answers Know Jordan photos 2-9

Thanks to all for taking part. Here are the locations - which obviously need to be made more challenging! Rebecca - first round to you - mabrouk!

Photo 2: Too easy, The Royal Hotel, taken from inside third circle, Jebel Amman.

Photo 3:
Of course, Petra, beyond the Treasury, and I was looking up to the Urn tomb, whose arches and columns you see just above the darker rocks in the foreground. If you walk on a little further (out of the left of the picture) the track turns to the left towards Qasr al-Bint.

Photo 4: Rebecca is correct!
This is a Roman family tomb built in the second century AD and is located in Tababour to the east of Amman. It is known by the name "Castle of the Lamp" by the locals. For further info check out my post of 27 August 2006 "On Location 2"

KJ Photo 5: No-one guessed this one;
Sculpture entitled: 'She Family'
By multi-media artist: Samia Taktak Zaru
Location: Created on the occasion of the establishment of the Haya Cultural Centre in Shmeisani, that opened its doors to children from ages 6-14, in 1976.

KJ Photo 6: … nor this one!
One of two sculptures outside the Arab Bank Building in Shmeisani, designed by Franco M. Fornasier, Zurich, Switzerland in 1983.

KJ Photo 7: Rebecca – you certainly know Jordan!
This is indeed the 'Swefiyah' Mosaic … tucked away in the centre of this commercial district at the end of Hamra Street. A pleasant distraction from consumerism. It is a 6th century mosaic 'pavement' – sadly no printed information is available to the visitor, despite the requests of the caretaker, who is extremely friendly and welcoming – and knows a lot about herbal teas! Just imagine – a few chairs and tables under the tree in the garden around this mosaic would make a wonderful tea stop for passersby where they could sit and relax whilst reading about the archaeological wonders of Jordan – and keep our guard happy in more ways than one.

KJ Photo 8:Rebecca correct again!
This is the new court house, but the minaret belongs to the King Abdullah I Mosque with its splendid blue mosaic dome (built between 1982-1989). The two buildings however are separated by Suleiman Al-Nabulsi Street.

The shot was taken inside the site currently under development at the end of Shmeisani in the old Abdali district that formerly housed the GID and various police/military divisions. The developers might like to call it the new city centre – as for me, I prefer its original name: Abdali – just renewed!

KJ Photo 9: Ahmad correct!
Outside the entrance to Dar Salah, on Mu'ath bin Jamal Street, Jebel Amman, below 1st circle area overlooking the city centre. This was the site of the first British Embassy building in Amman at the time of the British mandate and subsequent Jordanian independence. The embassy relocated up the hill end 1950s-beginning 1960s to the large building on the Third Circle where the Embassy remained until relocating again to Abdoun in 1987.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

private planes

Did anyone see the President of Singapore and his wife arriving in Amman for an official visit? They came from Egypt on an EgyptAir flight. No private planes for the President of one of the most economically successful countries in the world. Need I say more? T

construction safety

As I was driving near the Khalidi Hospital I noticed two very tall cranes fixed to the road in a very haphazard and dangerous way. Who is in charge of construction safety? I certainly will not be driving down this road until they have taken the cranes away! T

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Know Jordan photo 9

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Where am I exactly? Details please ....

Here's a clue:

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Know Jordan photo 8

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What am I looking at and from where?

Know Jordan photo 7

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Where am I? Date?

Know Jordan photos 5 and 6

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Photo 5: Where am I? What's my name? Who created me?

Photo 6: Where am I? Any guesses as to who created me?

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Olive picking process in photos

Green olives

Black olives - fully matured for a full flavoured olive oil

A typical olive grove

Picked, bagged and ready to be sent to the press

Waiting in line to have your olives pressed, in my case until midnight that day!

From olive to virgin olive oil, cold pressed and delicious!...z

Know Jordan Photo 4

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Where am I exactly?


It's olive time in Jordan!! Whether you have acres of olive trees or just one or two trees, its olives that are on your mind. Eusevius, the religious writer around 335 AD wrote:
"To mankind who is a civilized animal and honoured by the great god, excellent food, bread, wine and olive oil, was given. The bread supports and strengthens the heart, the wine lightens the spirit and the oil relaxes the body in that it cures and alleviates demanding hardships."
No wonder long ago they sometimes referred to olive oil as 'holy juice'.
The olive tree produces a good crop every other year. In between it rests and although it will produce olives they will much fewer in quantity. These days wherever you see olive trees people are picking and the country roads are full of trucks loaded with olive bags or tins of oil. Since it has already rained the picking is much easier......much less dusty and the olives are already partially cleaned. Most of the olives have already turned black but some are still green and that will give the oil a greenish color due to the presence of more chlorophyll. I prefer that darker oil rather than the golden-yellow oil produced when all the olives have turned reddish or black. But they say the lighter oil is better for cooking.
The pressing sites are also crowded as lorries and pickup trucks arrive with more bags of olives. There are stacks of bags everywhwere and people are waiting for their turn at the press. Today I took a lorry full of olives to the nearby press but was told I would have to wait until tomorrow, midnight, for my turn!! That was a bit annoying although I have had to wait longer in the past. I'll just have totake a dose of olive oil to lower my blood pressure!!! They say it's also good for lowering cholesterol, slowing cancer, helping to maintain bone thickness and protecting against osteoporosis. I've even read that its good for the treatment of diabetes. But midnight?!! (Remember this next time you dip your pitta bread into olive oil!!) Actually, the best thing about that hour is someone is sure to arrive with fresh bread.....then with fresh oil, a hot cup of tea and all the chatter about olives, oil, and farms......morning comes quickly!
Experts say that when pressing olives the ideal would be to produce 3 litres of oil from 12.5 kilos of olives. But that ratio is affected by so many factors: whether or not the olives are pressed when ripe, what type they are (there are about fifty different varieties), the soil where they are grown and the rainfall they receive. Most, if not all, of the olive oil pressed in Jordan is 'virgin', (the manager of the press insists it is 'extra virgin') as it is a natural product unaltered by chemicals or other processing and the heat during pressing does not exceed 33 degrees Celsius. (The differentiation between all those labels you might see on bottled oil in the stores reading 'olive oil - extra', 'olive oil - fine', 'semi-fine', 'lampante', all has to do with the acidity - the lower being the better.)
At the press the oil is put into 16 litre tins. But in most households it is then poured for daily use into transparent bottles. These should be kept in a cool dark place as the oil is sensitive to light, even fluorescent lighting, which will speed up the oxidation causing the oil to taste a bit rancid. Well, if that happens and you need a new tin, maybe I can help you out........
For now.....happy eating!!! ..............z

Sunday, November 12, 2006


My husband is one of Jordan's fallen heroes. He was killed in combat with the Israelis on November 13 1966 defending his country. So on this Remembrance Day let us all remember those who died in battle.

'They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.'

Friday, November 10, 2006

Know Jordan Photo 3

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Where am I exactly?

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Know Jordan Photo 1 answer + Photo 2.

Well, you're probably wondering what that first photo was posted on 6 November – neither respondent was correct. It is in fact a view of the Hammamaat Ma'in – the Wadi of Zarka-Ma'in and its hot thermal springs. The view is taken from the opposite mountain looking northwards towards Madaba. And for those who would like some background reading on Ma'in hotsprings – here is one written for Saudi Aramco magazine in 1995- rather out of date I know, but interesting all the same. The hotel is now under new management, called the Janna Spa and Resort …. And you can no longer go along for the day to the so-called 'public areas' without paying a JD 10 fee per person, just for the privilege.

Know Jordan photo No. 2

Here's an easy one: where am I and what's that monstrous building? J

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Anyone noticed an advertising campaign hitting the streets of Amman recently:

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Why do I cringe when I read this? Probably a scheme devised by some American on a USAID project that we don't need – part of the 'regime change' mindset.

Why is it that Jordanians have to 'change' anyway?

I much prefer the word 'evolve'.

But alas, change it seems to be ….. 'you Arabs cannot evolve … we might not like it ….. and besides, we have orders … you must become a democratic state … and for that you have to change. What? Palestine? Oh that …..' J

"We overcame our fear"

The unarmed women of the Gaza Strip have taken the lead in resisting Israel's latest bloody assault By Jameela al-Shanti in Beit Hanoun11/09/06 "The Guardian" -- --

Yesterday at dawn, the Israeli air force bombed and destroyed my home. I was the target, but instead the attack killed my sister-in-law, Nahla, a widow with eight children in her care. In the same raid Israel's artillery shelled a residential district in the town of Beit Hanoun in the Gaza Strip, leaving 19 dead and 40 injured, many killed in their beds. One family, the Athamnas, lost 16 members in the massacre: the oldest who died, Fatima, was 70; the youngest, Dima, was one; seven were children. The death toll in Beit Hanoun has passed 90 in one week.This is Israel's tenth incursion into Beit Hanoun since it announced its withdrawal from Gaza. It has turned the town into a closed military zone, collectively punishing its 28,000 residents. For days, the town has been encircled by Israeli tanks and troops and shelled. All water and electricity supplies were cut off and, as the death toll continued to mount, no ambulances were allowed in. Israeli soldiers raided houses, shut up the families and positioned their snipers on roofs, shooting at everything that moved. We still do not know what has become of our sons, husbands and brothers since all males over 15 years old were taken away last Thursday. They were ordered to strip to their underwear, handcuffed and led away.It is not easy as a mother, sister or wife to watch those you love disappear before your eyes. Perhaps that was what helped me, and 1,500 other women, to overcome our fear and defy the Israeli curfew last Friday - and set about freeing some of our young men who were besieged in a mosque while defending us and our city against the Israeli military machine.We faced the most powerful army in our region unarmed. The soldiers were loaded up with the latest weaponry, and we had nothing, except each other and our yearning for freedom. As we broke through the first barrier, we grew more confident, more determined to break the suffocating siege. The soldiers of Israel's so-called defence force did not hesitate to open fire on unarmed women. The sight of my close friends Ibtissam Yusuf abu Nada and Rajaa Ouda taking their last breaths, bathed in blood, will live with me for ever.Later an Israeli plane shelled a bus taking children to a kindergarten. Two children were killed, along with their teacher. In the last week 30 children have died. As I go round the crowded hospital, it is deeply poignant to see the large number of small bodies with their scars and amputated limbs. We clutch our children tightly when we go to sleep, vainly hoping that we can shield them from Israel's tanks and warplanes.But as though this occupation and collective punishment were not enough, we Palestinians find ourselves the targets of a systematic siege imposed by the so-called free world. We are being starved and suffocated as a punishment for daring to exercise our democratic right to choose who rules and represents us. Nothing undermines the west's claims to defend freedom and democracy more than what is happening in Palestine. Shortly after announcing his project to democratise the Middle East, President Bush did all he could to strangle our nascent democracy, arresting our ministers and MPs. I have yet to hear western condemnation that I, an elected MP, have had my home demolished and relatives killed by Israel's bombs. When the bodies of my friends and colleagues were torn apart there was not one word from those who claim to be defenders of women's rights on Capitol Hill and in 10 Downing Street.Why should we Palestinians have to accept the theft of our land, the ethnic cleansing of our people, incarcerated in forsaken refugee camps, and the denial of our most basic human rights, without protesting and resisting?The lesson the world should learn from Beit Hanoun last week is that Palestinians will never relinquish our land, towns and villages. We will not surrender our legitimate rights for a piece of bread or handful of rice. The women of Palestine will resist this monstrous occupation imposed on us at gunpoint, siege and starvation. Our rights and those of future generations are not open for negotiation.Whoever wants peace in Palestine and the region must direct their words and sanctions to the occupier, not the occupied, the aggressor not the victim. The truth is that the solution lies with Israel, its army and allies - not with Palestine's women and children.·
Jameela al-Shanti is an elected member of the Palestinian Legislative Council for Hamas.
She led a women's protest against the siege of Beit Hanoun last Friday

Thursday, November 09, 2006

One Can Try

Growing up in the USA during the 1950s I learned that politics was taboo and an unacceptable subject for conversation. At home we sometimes talked about it but without any serious passion. Our system is to elect our representatives and sit back and let them do their job. Naively, we think they will protect our interests and the interests of the country. Of course, this is not how politicians work. However, due to this strange concept the American public has been sliding into complacency for decades now. However, my deeper fear is that a dreadful erosion of America’s political system has taken place as well. Periodically, however, they become frustrated and angry, as happened at this mid-term election, and demand change.

I hope that Americans do get a change, but I hope for far more. I hope that they become concerned with and talk about political realities; that they become aware of the decisions that their elected representatives make and hold them accountable. That they understand the local, national, and international issues at stake and debate them before they take action; and that they search for the information they need when their media fails them.

I have been exposed to endless political discussions since I came to live in Jordan. Jordanians have no social embarrassment about talking politics. They are politically aware because the decisions of other governments affect them daily. There is a horrific refugee problem in their midst and devastating armed conflicts which continue to destroy their neighbors. Living here has made me more aware of American policies and politics than I would be if I had stayed in the States. Unlike Jordanians and many others in the world, the daily life of the average American is removed from politics. How tragic that is when ultimately he is responsible for the actions of his country!

Because of this, I feel a personal obligation to email articles and websites with information that I think my family and friends should be aware of. I know this isn’t much, and probably some on my email list find my eagerness to inform a nuisance, but I need to try to grow politically and to do a better job than my family and the society of my youth did for me.


No discussion!

My daughter had a friend from university visiting last weekend. She has been continuing her studies in marine archaeology at the University of Haifa and wanted to take the opportunity to see Petra. Needless to say she enjoyed our archaeological wonders; but also something else: the political discussions that she had with my daughter's friends. She said that the Israelis she worked amongst in Haifa were "very nice" but nobody wanted to have any type of political discourse. Odd, amongst academics, don't you think? Perhaps it’s the only way Israelis can protect themselves from acknowledging the truth of injustice they live with day in day out, year in year out.

Meanwhile, 18 members of the same family, 8 of them children, all of them civilians, are slaughtered by the Israeli military forces. And what is the government's response? The IDF will investigate to make sure such events do not recur, BUT, Israel will press on with its efforts to halt Palestinian rocket attacks.

"Our estimate is that it was something to do with the aiming devices, or the alignment, or the balance between them, or our radar's location of the shell hit," head of Israel's southern command told Channel 2 TV.

Oh, so it was a technical hitch that caused such devastating loss of life, OR - yet another 'or' - was it the total lack of regard that the Israelis have for Palestinian life?

Small wonder the academics don't want to talk! McM

A Little Faith Restored

For many years, and especially the last six, I have felt shame, outrage, and frustration at the way the US has carried out its foreign policy in the Middle East. Yesterday, with the results of the mid-term elections, my faith in America has been somewhat restored. I believe Americans are generally a fair people when they get to know the facts. I also believe that in America the truth about a situation eventually emerges and people are eventually held accountable for their actions. When the truth about the Iraq war finally began to emerge in America, the people didn't like what they heard and they were able to do something about it through the elections. That's what's good about our democracy, however flawed. Alas, this degree of transparency, accountability and the mechanisms to allow the people to have a greater say in the direction their government is going is still lacking in Middle Eastern countries.

Now, to avoid the sort of debacle we have brought upon Iraq, I wish the Americans would confront the truth about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict!!...............z

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Hallelujah! Vindication!

Helloooo George Bush. Do you get the message?? In case you’re wondering, I’m talking about the election results! Now do you realize that the people don’t like what you have done to their country in the past 6 years? In case it isn’t clear, they don’t like your war, they don’t like your team and it looks like they don’t like you much either!

I have spent the past 6 years trying to tell my family and friends that you don’t represent me or most of the people that I know.

I have spent the past 6 years watching you wreck havoc with the basic principles of decency that the United States once embodied.

I have spent the past 6 years feeling embarrassed that you are the “leader” of “my” country.

I have spent the last 6 years in disgust and despair concerning your warmongering and your bias to Israel while rejecting International law and attempting to rewrite the Geneva Conventions.

The resounding defeat of the Republicans who supported you these past 6 years is a vindication of your warped mindset and policies and should remind you that “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.” Abraham Lincoln (1809 - 1865)

Hallelujah, I second that!!!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Palestine Red Crescent

As a member of the Jordan Red Crescent Society I am interested in what the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement does round the world. The emblems of the Movement are there to protect those who are doing their humanitarian duties. Unfortunately these emblems do not ensure protection anymore.

On November 3 two Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) medical workers died from injuries received while performing their life-saving humanitarian work during a military operation of the Israeli army. The following is from a press release by the ICRC.

"Shortly after 9 p.m. on 3 November, the PRCS emergency medical services responded to reports that people had been wounded during military operations in Beit Lahiya, south-west of Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip. A number of ambulances, including three from the PRCS, reached the area. Both paramedics were wearing the clearly marked fluorescent jackets of the PRCS and using large flashlights when they left the ambulance to perform their humanitarian duties. The ambulance's siren was on and its flashing lights were visible at a great distance. The paramedics were in the process of evacuating a dead body from the scene when IDF munitions suddenly hit the area. One died on the spot; the other was seriously wounded and died of his injuries a few hours later.

The ICRC is appalled by this failure to protect personnel engaged in emergency medical duties. The individuals concerned and their means of transport were clearly marked with a distinctive emblem conferring the protection of the Geneva Conventions."

What excuses will the IDF come up with this time I wonder? T

Monday, November 06, 2006

Invitation to Know Jordan through photos

Earlier I asked you to watch this space ... now we're on with our 'Know Jordan' photos and you have to identify the picture and the location - first one below. Keep watching this space for Know Jordan photos and test yourselves on how well you really know this country. J

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Sunday, November 05, 2006

Strange Encounter

I was in France with my husband last week, and one morning I chatted with two middle-aged American couples in the lobby of the hotel. We exchanged pleasantries and asked one another where we’re from. As it turned out, both couples were from Ohio, and since I know Ohio well, I felt an immediate solidarity with them. That was until one of the women adamantly announced that Americans should never criticize America in a foreign country or in front of foreigners! And she continued with, “Americans should stick together and only discuss or criticize our country at home.”

I had said that I was from Michigan and now live in the Middle East. I am sure I didn’t say anything negative about anything, so I don’t know what prompted this comment from her. In my surprise at her outburst I couldn’t find words to tell her that I didn’t agree with her. I felt that anything I said would be pointless, personal, and antagonistic, so I didn’t reply, although I wanted to. I hope that she isn’t typical of a large number of Americans. Was she feeling threatened in France? Was she ignorant – arrogant? Or did her outburst illustrate xenophobia - mid-western style?


Friday, November 03, 2006

Face the Issue

Since first visiting Jordan 36 years ago (has it really been that long!!) the issue of Jordanian-Palestinian relations has been around. Sometimes it lies just beneath the surface, rearing its head only to disappear and reemerge at a later date. But there is no point in pretending the issue doesn't exist. It is part of the Jordanian social fabric, history, or whatever one wants to call it.

Adnan Abu Odeh, a man well respected by many in Jordan and the international community, has brought this issue to the fore once again. Rather than filing legal charges against him, I think it is high time that all concerned address this issue openly, honestly, and rationally...........z

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Good Cheer

Driving out of Amman today I came across these houses whose bright colors, I'm sure, could compete with any of those in Spain, Mexico or California!!!!!.....z

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