Friday, September 29, 2006

On women of sand and Myrrh II

"There is a tradition in Islam of women’s equality, and the life of the Prophet Muhammad is often offered as proof of this; it is said that Muhammad washed his own clothes and darned his own socks, and often served meals to his youngest wife Ai’sha, who later led his army into battle and was regarded as an important and respected interpreter of Islamic laws. The Qur’an leveled the social balances for women: in Islam, women had the right to inherit property, own and operate businesses, and be educated. It banned several misogynist practices, such as the infanticide of newborn baby girls, who were often unwanted by parents who preferred male children.
"I understood—and not for the first time—the astounding disconnection between the lives of Arab women, and the lives of Arab women as represented by the American media and entertainment industries, thus as perceived by Americans themselves.

The statements made by my ponytailed student smacked of an underlying assumption that I have heard many times before: we American women have finally succeeded in moving the feminist movement to the top of our nation’s list of priorities; now it’s time to help our less fortunate sisters. Of course, over the years, American feminism has opened its gates (after much pounding) to other versions of feminism, such as black feminism and other non-white, non-upper-middle-class feminisms. Therefore, the focus on Arab women’s issues illustrates the good intentions of American feminism; however, my concern is with the “big sister” manner in which those intentions are manifested. Often, Arab women’s voices are excluded from discussions concerning their own lives, and they are to be “informed” about feminism, as if it is an ideology exclusive to American women alone."
"Not only do the struggles of Arab feminists have a long history, but over the 1980s and 1990s, as Val Moghadam observes in the same book, “women’s NGOs [in the Middle East and North Africa] have grown exponentially and are taking on increasingly important responsibilities in the context of state withdrawal from the provision of social services and in the context of a global trend in the expansion of civil society.” Organizations explicitly devoted to women are growing rapidly in Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco, while more informal service-oriented organizations led by women play some of the same roles in many other Middle Eastern nations. Some of the leading organizations in Egypt include: the New Woman’s Group; Arab Women’s Publishing House; the Alliance of Arab Women; the Association for the Development and Enhancement of Women; Together; Progressive Women’s Union; the group of women who published The Legal Rights of the Egyptian Woman in Theory and Practice; and The Society for the Daughter of the Earth. (See the chapter by Nadje Sadig al-Ali in Organizing Women.) Taken as a whole, it is a movement that, if allied with U.S. and other feminisms, could improve the lives of women around the world."
"The media’s popular portrayal of Muslim women as universally helpless and dominated by the patriarchy that continues to exist in Arab culture (as if any society is free of it) has reinforced American perceptions that Arabs and Muslims are degenerate and twisted, thus worthy of domination and bombing.
And yet, if Americans, especially American women, understood the long and enduring history of Arab feminism, then perhaps my students would be able to formulate comments on Arab and Muslim women that were more informed and sensitive. Such commentaries would recognize the complexity of historical struggles, rather than making those waging these struggles invisible under a pervasive stereotype. It is not up to Western women to diagnose inequality in Arab society—it has been diagnosed. Rather, American women should recognize that Arab women themselves—and even some Arab men—have grappled with gender inequality for over a century. This is the message that American feminists have largely not heard, although it must be heard and Arab women’s voices included in the discussion of building bridges and confronting women’s issues on a global scale.”

Selections from an essay by Susan Muaddi Darraj (a student at Johns Hopkins University) on Arab feminism.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

That night…

That night
She let him in without words
She waltzed across the room
Smooth steps but oscillating stares
Her black dress fluttering around her legs
September rain coloring her window
The color of her eyes
Hiding her dissonant heart beats
She walked
The silky hand of fate will follow
Will soon follow
But tonight there was no room for words

Tiny roses on his lips
He called her name…
Has she really known him
For all these years
Doe his hands get weary
Holding her dreams
Embracing her fears
Tapping on her back
Tapping on her days
Tapping on her door
Every night?

That night without words …
Was he really in that room
Or was it the wind that wrapped her
With a taste of his demands
Was it his flesh under her nails
Was it his scent that left her senseless
Was it a song that gushed her tears
Or was it the sight of her sheets
Covered with darkness
Leaving nothing but a shrine
Of his eyes
Leaving nothing but the echo
Of his voice…

Was it the tip of his fingers
That numbed her body
Or was it September?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Why the tears ...

Why the worries...
Why the anger...
Why the confusion...
When you're a woman?
By comparison

As far as my opinion goes I do not try to judge or try to conceive a solution to a problematic geo-political position based on my nationalist feelings and my belonging. While I try hard to be objective approaching very controversial and emotionally charged issues, I feel compelled to strip myself from religious sectarian racial and nationalist loyalties.

Although I think a feeling of belonging and identity and even spiritual needs might be essential on a individualistic level, I try to remain very suspicious all exaggerated forms and declarations of one’s national belonging or one’s unconditional loyalty to a leader, a religion or a state. If all religions are to be treated as philosophies, from my knowledge of all the teachings of these philosophies which are at our reach in books left for us by their founders, I cannot think of a religion that asks of its adopters to blindly follow a leader. Each one of these philosophies left us a decent amount of ideas that we can apply to our lives and needs and societies within the limits of flexibility and moderation. Each one of these religions embraced and valued knowledge and freedom and individuality and loyalty and empathy and giving and understanding and unconditional respect to our bodies our nature as they did embrace the idea of a mystical sense or being or existence. The latter is an entity never having been defined and I like to think that this is where the strength of this idea resides. As opposed to the well defined gods in the Greek and Roman mythology, an idea of a vague existence may that be an omnipotent being or a spirit maintains an essence of unity and continuity with the non-tangible that is hoped to transcend the human spirit and to tame the aggressiveness of the human nature. Throughout history, man, a social animal, has witnessed development and evolution through creating the value of the family unit and then the idea of the community and the tribe. Incidentally, those same philosophies and spiritual feelings were the tools that helped bridge the divides in ancient civilizations created due to natural selections competitive natures and animalistic drives and political ambitions between tribes. As long as these values remain personal and in a sense even secular, a side product of society, a vehicle enabling the ‘soul’ of social capacities and of development keeping science and philosophy and art equally revered and valued, religion was not poisonous.

These same spiritual contexts and connections that man developed, however, have been the same values that led to the most efficient quarrels in human history. While the human nature remained the residual motive behind the human need to prevail, family ties, tribal ties and religious ties were the most efficient PR machines that drove civilizations to their doom throughout documented history. This was done ever so convincingly in the name of a god, a divine message and under the pretext of a spiritual or racial elitism. The same teachings that prayed for love and understanding and empathy were the tool to use one people against another in the name of spreading this same message (as in the case of Christianity during the Crusades and Islam) and securing a right of existence and prosperity to a chosen people (as happened when Moses and his followers after him guided the Jews as early armed forces to occupy the land of Caan, ‘the promised land’, in other words early Zionism). In most cases than none, these leaders chose to emulate the same virtues of the gods about which they preach for the purpose of political influence. A lot of so-called prophets only preached about goodness and understanding and forgiveness leaving out domination and human ruthlessness. The same human nature disregarded those particular examples set forth by those leaders and chose the values that serve their ambitions.

Based on the mere fact of the human nature, I can not but find nationalism, religion and any kind of social ties that become so stern and exclusive to the point of misanthropically answering to the needs of one sect, one culture, one society or one nation but not others to be very suspicious and dangerous. As in religion, too much nationalism and too much attachment to what’s immediately our blood and our land and our borders lead to the chauvinistic need of reducing our fellow human being to a less deserving less prevailing entity. In the bigger sense of things, ties between people on any level today, may that be family, community, language, society or country has the dangerous aggressive tribal motives at its heart. Even family ties that set the stage for inflammatory emotions of excessive protection and revenge are at the heart of tribal loyalties. I believe in the global human being. No color, no race, no religion, no language, no borders and no eternal historical accounts and paybacks. I always say that science is my religion. Looking around me and within my human apparatus I cannot but feel humbled and owed by the might of nature. The ancient human being reached out to his fellow human being for help and completion. While aggression ceased organization followed. It remains a challenge to the human nature to follow guidance without being blind and to give guidance without getting greedy. Even if the most successful democracies of our days and even in the most mundane exercises of these democracies we are faced with the fine line between total anarchy but intellectual independence and regulation versus totalitarian control. Winston Churchill once said, “Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried”. How do you privatize and spread the wealth down while staying away from corruption (just look at the education system in America today). How do you think globally about your equal fellow human being and grant within yourself to remain fair and not abuse the wealth within limited sources and not to exploit those who at the time are weaker or less developed (check this link). How do you globalize and still fight conformity. How do you resist consumption in an ever developing world (look at the idea of globalization today)? How do you encourage competition for the purpose of development in science and health and the quality of life without risking greed and the need for destroying the opponent? (The cold war).

A nationalist would seek military development for self-preservation through maintaining a balance of power. A citizen of the world would seek development that serves all of humanity. Research to cure AIDS should be funded more than cancer, certainly more than nutritional programs, certainly more than space programs and absolutely more than national defense programs.

Having said this, I would like to talk about the contemporary moral issue by definition and regional and political crisis by exercise of our days. Having already promised that I try to formulate the crisis (the question that needs to be solved), the method and the answer separately from loyalties and belongings, I would try to do that here.

The empirical method is the method I follow. I always like to compare the Lebanese situation to that of the Palestinian one with regards to Israel. I do that exercise not because I want to get more experimental comparison of the effect of one entity (Israel) based on a broader scope of reference but because in the midst of the Orwellian crisis of defending the contradictory Lebanese demands and needs, I find the problem of the Palestinian people to be undoubtedly solid in my mind and conscience. I view it not as a problem of territorial needs and conflicts but as that of a human crisis (I have previously gave numerous examples of the maltreatment of the Palestinian people). This is my own personal human cause regardless of what the politicians representing the Palestinians preach or demand and regardless of the means through which those same people resist and react.

The crisis had originated in response to an act that contradicts all the values that I talked about and that I stand for. It is not valid to accuse a defender of one people who happen to be weak against their strong oppressors of racism. This is mere humanism. The founding of the Israeli state required endless acts of terror and injustice that remain to our day. This was done based on a moral obligation on the part of the Jews and remains to this day opposed to legal obligations. A moral obligation is based on a fundamental system of beliefs that give a certain people the right to act in whatever means they possess against all others as I have previously mentioned. This answers my first question about the moral validity of the erection of the state of Israel. This has always been a question easy to answer for me since I do not believe in religious drives and in the right of a group of people at the expense of others.

Even when I condemn the original act that led to the formation of Israel, I am against the principle that all the land should be returned to the Palestinian (regardless of the practicality and politics and accord and UN resolutions). I refuse the idea based on the same standards I ask to all human beings and based on the same respect to all humans and disregard of borders and historical rights. I believe in coexistence irrespective of our religions (and this seems to be the only separation between Jews of Israel and Arabs of Palestine who some of happen to belong to the same Semite race). I find it to be ironic that the same people who call for secularism in the religion that took the shape of their opponent base their own elitist existence which is policed by fascist methods on religious belongings and loyalties. These loyalties give them a fake right and a feeling of superiority coming from their own personal religious beliefs (some extreme examples here).

I asked this question earlier: If you support the state of Israel today, where do you stand on morality. This question came out as a reaction to a lot of Israelis who claim to act out of a higher moral compass. Let me rephrase my question based on the ideas I have presented earlier: if you support the methods through which the Israeli government is treating the Palestinians today what is your stand from humanity?

Finally, since the method at hand is scientific, since we draw from experimentation and proof and not from a priori experience and beliefs, if I am to condemn the actions of the Israelis towards the Lebanese society I think this recent war gave me the data I need. One can always argue that all the systems in the Middle East today are tribal and that the war in Lebanon was about politics and not mere oppression, aggression, greed or exploitation. Using the same method and seeking tangible data and proof and not relying on beliefs, not anticipating injustice, not extrapolating possible scenarios based on the situations of other people, I will give Israel the benefit of the doubt when I come across such ‘evidence’ here, here, here and here.

Not a cliche, it still stands!

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We'll get there ...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


- I am working just to pass the time but I’m not working towards anything these days
- Me neither. I think we’re afraid of graduating
- I agree. We have been students for so long.
- I don’t want to face what’s out there
- I am almost sabotaging my thesis
- It just feels so comfortable and safe now
- I think we don’t want to grow up
- To be an adult now?
- I have so much to read up on for work and I can’t do it
- I know me neither. I keep taking time off. I’m not functional
- I actually read about everything but work these days
- Anything but science
- I think we’re going through quarter life crisis
- You think?
- Yes I am sure
- I heard about that before but I don’t know what it is.
- Me neither actually. I should read up on it.
- Then we definitely need some time off. This is a crisis.

(Gus took those pictures of us at a party in my apartment in 2004. At a time in my life when everything made much more sense)

Monday, September 25, 2006

Palestinian cinema

A brief introduction: At the film society of Lincoln center.

Columbia University Professor Hamid Dabashi is introducing the screening of Michel Khleifi's Wedding in Galilee on Wednesday, September 27 (6 pm).

The films in the series include Wedding in Galilee (Michel Khleifi, 1987), Chronicle of a Disappearance, (Elia Suleiman, 1996), short films by Palesitnian filmmakers, and Paradise Now (Hany Abu-Assad, 2005).

Times and tickets here.
The Iraqi spirit

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Sunday selections

Read in IBJ's blog,

In the spirit of Ramadan "this year non-Muslims (Christians, Jews and others) are fasting during certain days in Ramadan in solidarity with their Muslim brothers and sisters who are facing war, occupation and continued harassment and intimidation"

This is all over the news today, surprised?

On a different note, Ahmadi-Nejad has been ridiculed and demonized for attacking the right of the Israeli government to exist. A government that clearly opposes his country and had declared war on his government for years now in plans presented by Netanyahu (the new realm) as well as indirectly through the neo-cons in office who had be planning for a war on Iran even before the war on Iraq as it was confirmed by Ramsey Clark and in Seymour Hirsh's recent article in the New Yorker. A government that clearly represents an American ally in the region and an enemy of Iran as Israel has declared itself to be. A government that competes with Iran's interests in Iraq and in the control in the region. On a more ideological side, a government that is opposite to the ideology of the islamic republic since it persecutes, tortures and oppress muslims in Palestine.

This man is called a fanatic, a crazy warlord, a racist yet the American and Israeli leaders who are the reason for the situation in Iraq, the tortures, the continuation of the illegal occupation in Israel, the exploitation of fear and grief for political gain, the persecution and the psychological war against muslims and Arabs, the exploitation of the Arabic oil and the destruction of countries and murder of our people and their own to do so are democratic leaders who are doing the best for democracy? So in president Clinton's rhetoric, who said their shit doesn't stink? And wait a minute? Who said only Americans are allowed to do the best for their nation in any cost possible and to punish other leaders for doing the same, including Saddam? I know these are old questions but when will people wake up? Read the selections in the links below and if you need a reminder on torture by all means, read here, here and here and Bush's immunity to being accused of war crimes. This article and this video might present a reasonable explanation as to why the Irani leader might not be met with outrage by the Arabic world as he speaks on Israel (and many more examples i have already mentioned on the Israeli oppression of Palestinians).

you might enjoy the links below:
on Bush
Ahmadinejad's address to the UN
Chavez's address to the UN
Telephone casse

I was talking to my mom on the phone as I do every Sunday then my nephew took the phone and wanted to tell me about summer school and miss Dalal. Apparently he does not like her because she looks nothing like his mom which I can completely relate to. I can see the distress there. Then he went on like he does with his little stories that make no sense except in his little world. I listen and all I can think of is when did he start talking? Every other sentence he asks me where I am anyway and why I don’t come over to continue the conversation. He hates phones as much as I do. He suddenly decides to hang up. I tried to call again but the lines were terrible. Finally I got through.

And in Arabic

- hello
- hello, who is it?
- Khaled is that you?
- No, it is me
- who, where is mom?
- who did you call?
- Is this the .. residence?
- No it is not… wait where do you call from?
(I’m thinking what do you care where I call from)
- Amerca, leish?
- This is so funny, I was trying to call Beirut too, see I’m in the US too..
(I’m thinking he must be new here)
- oh you are.. haha.. ok then.. (trying to save my minutes for mom)
- yes I am in jersey so where are you?
- here in nyc
- Oh and how long have you been here?
Then a third voice appears on the line… a woman
- hello
the man and I just burst into laughter
- hi.. wait is this the person you’re calling in Beirut?
He goes
- no.. hello who is this?
The woman goes
- yes hi.. hi.. is this New tv?
I go
- What? Are you serious?
At this point we both lost it. The poor woman waits for an answer and we are dying of laughter.
He tells her
- why are you calling NTV on Sunday?
And I go
- is NTV still open anyway?
Her, still convinced that we're from NTV
- Can i get through?

We messed around with the NTV story for a while then she noticed some English here and there and she figured it out. It turns out she lives in Connecticut. I still don’t know why on earth she was calling NTV. We all talked for a while and now I know a guy in Jersey and a woman in Connecticut. After all this time it still just takes for the person to be Lebanese to become my immediate friend.

Do you remember the phone games we used to play as kids? When we’re old enough to have a phone in our room.. My sister would come in at night and we would just call random numbers and say the same old jokes.. Like your fridge is running? Well go follow it.. On the other end, an old lady would pick up.
- What my fridge? What’s wrong with it? Does my husband want to fix it? Who is this?
The poor old lady’s confusion would make it even the more enjoyable to us.
For minutes there, getting that lady who terribly wants to talk to NTV was exceptionally funny for us. I guess that man from Jersey played the same games with his siblings when they were kids. At times in Beirut when entertainment for kids was limited. When we spent most of our time indoors. We would feel we had all of the Lebanon that we can't see right there on the other end the phone line. The man said that this was a very pleasant Lebanese reunion. I guess in Lebanon or abroad, the surviving Lebanese spirit and sense of humour will always wrap us with all the Lebanon we need and miss.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Que reste-t-il?

"Ce soir le vent qui frappe à ma porte
Me parle des amours mortes
Devant le feu qui s' éteint
Ce soir c'est une chanson d' automne
Dans la maison qui frissonne
Et je pense aux jours lointains

Que reste-t-il de nos amours
Que reste-t-il de ces beaux jours
Une photo, vieille photo ..."
Ramadan Kareem

Despite all the turmoil...

"The President of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf, reveals in an interview to be aired at the weekend that, soon after the terror attacks of 11 September 2001, the United States threatened to bomb his country "back into the Stone Age" if he didn't offer its co-operation in fighting terrorism and the Taliban. The revelation was made by General Musharraf during his visit to New York for the annual General Assembly of the United Nations. It comes after a week in which the US has been criticised by a number of foreign leaders for trying to impose its will on other nations." read here.

"The bad news is that Mr. Bush, as he made clear yesterday, intends to continue using the CIA to secretly detain and abuse certain terrorist suspects. He will do so by issuing his own interpretation of the Geneva Conventions in an executive order and by relying on questionable Justice Department opinions that authorize such practices as exposing prisoners to hypothermia and prolonged sleep deprivation. Under the compromise agreed to yesterday, Congress would recognize his authority to take these steps and prevent prisoners from appealing them to U.S. courts. The bill would also immunize CIA personnel from prosecution for all but the most serious abuses and protect those who in the past violated U.S. law against war crimes." read here.

"The republic of fear is born again. The state of terror now gripping Iraq is as bad as it was under Saddam Hussein. Torture in the country may even be worse than it was during his rule, the United Nation's special investigator on torture said yesterday" read here.

May your future holidays be free of threats, tortures and occupations.
A fresh idea!!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Very catchy tune! Palestinian rap
And i'll keep repeating it..

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

My sleeping pill
(link in title)
Voltaire also said "clever tyrants are never punished" so ITMFA!
... Sigh ...

What's the age limit for having a crush?

(pic San Fransisco, where else?)

Monday, September 18, 2006

Tete-a-tete with Henri Cartier Bresson

Rome days were almost over
Hot dry sandy old Rome
One restored site to another
A rendezvous with Giuseppe Cavalli
From Vatican city to Piazza Venecia
Renaissance in the Palazzo de Roma
Against the Fontana de Trevi
A trip back in history
In the eyes of Henri Cartier Bresson
At Palazzo Braschi...
Times and places and faces…
Of how greatness looked like…

It’s the 50’s, Simone De Beauvoir at Rue Schoecher. So this is how she looked like… Albert Camus, Christian Dior and Edith Piaf in Paris. Edith Piaf looks so young a fresh unlike the tragic face she wears on the theater. Truman Capote in New Orleans.
It’s the 60’s, Igor Stravinsky is in California, Coco Chanel, Jean-Paul Sartre at Pont des Arts and Jean Genet at Café Flore in Paris. And there is Marilyn.
It’s the 70’s, Pablo Naruda having coffee in paris.

Rooms and rooms of stories hidden in faces throughout the years. Faces that defined philosophy art beauty and taste.

Get his book.

(i took the pictures in upper left and lower right in palazzo Braschi, Rome. Rest or the pictures by the photographer)
It's beautiful... We love it!

The U.S. Postal Service expanded its Holiday Celebrations Series on August 12, 2001 and issued the first American stamp to commemorate a Muslim Holiday. In response to that, Azeezaly S. Jaffer, Vice President, Public Affairs and Communications for the Postal Service, who will dedicate the stamp. "The Eid stamp will help us highlight the business, educational and social contributions of the estimated six to seven million Muslims in this country whose cultural heritage has become an integral part of the fabric of this great nation."

W. Deen Mohammed, spokesperson for the Muslim American Society, said: "It is beautiful. We love it."

It’s beautiful. We love it. How sweet.

Today I was shown by an American Jewish friend a series of correspondence that was sent to her. The letter was, in her words, the most hateful most racist comments about Islam calling upon people asking now people to discontinue this stamp. It was very ridiculous to see these people fighting this battle now. The letter used all colors and captions and highlights possible to bring the reader’s attention to how Islam should be hated and not celebrated since these are the terrorists who are ruining the American way of life. I dismissed it as a small group of fanatics till she told me how far this had been reaching and who some of the people voicing the outrage are.

I never take a defensive posture when I fight for what I believe in but hold on for a minute here. This is not politics. People are genuinely convinced that Islam is an evil religion. Where is this going? Have we already forgotten the last time we decided to persecute people who follow a religion different than ours and how that ended? There are 1.2 billion muslims in the world according to the Council on American-Islamic relations. That is 22 % of the world’s population and the second largest religion after Christianity. There are around 1.8 million muslims in the US. Are we going to drive them all to the sea? Let's all be very careful here before we get humanity into another global crisis. What can we do to release the building tension before it's too late?

After I saw that I searched American stamps representing Jewish holidays and I saw this, “the U.S. Postal Service unveiled a new series of "Holiday Celebration" stamps in 1996* with the debut of the first stamp commemorating the Jewish holiday of Chanukah, the Jewish festival of lights”

I still thought, cool, how sweet…
He hoped...

He almost hoped to see people standing shoulder to shoulder, holding hands and celebrating life with a smile.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Walk the line… The messy crazy bipolar line...

A blank page.
Pages haunted with nothing but few
Sprouting nothing but words
Words drawing nothing new
The silence becomes a weight
Plum skin in my throat and purple color of fear
A belt and a book and a paper in shreds

A door on the floor and the sound of the sea
What drowned is far to be found
A silver spark where it slips through
Spilling the screams out
Molding rocks and twirling
Pictures racing through
Just a nightmare
In the space
A red feather on a blank wall

A skip and a beat and a shameless face
Nails slitting a rip in the space
Peeling through layers of torment
Luring the gods of confusion
Crunching illusions and wrenching lies
And twitching scars under the ties
Lazy bodies on blank sheets

I pace the room
Tea with lime
Sleep is a luxury at this time
I flip through some pages
The two sides of one truth
The dawn

Always perfect. I overslept today but woke up to a gorgeous sky. Perfect lazy Saturday.
I made spinach and mushroom stew then I went for a walk. Even in the heart of the most urbanized most automated most artificial New York I feel,

The roots of life peaking through
The pulse of nature blessing our every step
I take a minute to breathe in… everything around me
I keep it in and I walk racing...

And I think about all the things I’m hopeful for, the things I live for, the things I love. The things I am thankful for...

So without construction or structure or plans or pretenses or pretexts…
Without a start or an end or a defined path…
Without judgments or stern ideas or stern looks or hate
Without stress management or stress relief or symptoms or evaluations
Without room for intimidation or indignation. Being assured but not overly sure
No regrets, no remorse, you did your best and you have time for more
Without staying over the top or under control or within the limits or in line
I walk the line… thankfully…

Thankful for still being totally and completely in love with my family. For not once having to call my mother out of nothing but love and respect and eagerness to learn. For having loved my father.
For my sisters. A hip ever crazy ever happy and upbeat never defeated never out of life and energy stubborn deviously smart opinionated hotheaded generous forever caring and giving and loving sister. And another… A mom. The one who now reminds me of mom. The warm smart wise always right always sure always secure organized traditional but forever surprising.
For my mother. My pillar. My strength. My logic in a world of chaos. For the tip of her velvet maroon robe in the winter that fluttered warmly around us and wrapped us with love. For giving trust and respect. For daring to stand for what is right and for setting yourself up as an example. For the distinguished smell of home

For all of you phenomenal Arabic women.

And also thankful
Thankful for a moment of truth.
For mercy and forgiveness and patience and understanding.
For giving chances and taking away fear.
For being able to taste to smell to see to hear
For smiles and hugs for a moment of victory
For success over silence and stillness and homogeneity and conformity
For fairness and modesty without being apologetic
For beauty all around us and for wine
Yes wine
For the miracle of life, the miracle of the mind, the miracle of humanity.
For a light from within
For a light from the skies
For the mountains kissing the nose of heavens
For sunsets and freckles and tears
For childhood
For an artist in every person’s life
On this day even just for walking
And tomorrow who knows maybe for dancing again
Dancing on the line
Painting patterns drawing out of memory and nostalgia
Drawing out of hope in new beginnings
Drawing from blank

Friday, September 15, 2006

And here we go again..

As significant as the Pope's statements on Islam are shaping the world's opinion and in a time where he should be trying to reconcile the growing divide between religions, i find it disgusting that Saudi officials only revolt when religion is at stake. Yes Saudi Arabia is the Islamic authority in the Arabic world but when will it be the Arabic authority?
Remember our game baby?

So many stories
so many lives behind the balconies
behind each window a face
a smile a tear an embrace
a hope for better days
for new beginnings...

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(Picture somewhere in Barcelona, can't remember where i was. Sometime in May or June, can't remember when i was where i was)
Are we still fighting?

"WEST BANK - Six months of a crippling international embargo on the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) has brought its economy to a virtual standstill.

As a result, children are being driven increasingly to find work to help support their families. According to the Palestine Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), 40,000 children under 18 work in oPt - 73 percent of whom were forced to work due to severe financial conditions.

Subhi goes to al-Hawawer checkpoint every morning, dragging his steel handcart behind him. He competes with other boys to get two or three shekels (45 to 70 US cents) a time for carrying the luggage of travelers". Read the rest here.

I stopped at the word travelers. I wonder who these travelers are and I wondered why they leave. Then I realized that these travelers don’t have to be leaving, they might be tourists coming to visit Israel in the summer. They could be like the many that are moving back to Israel “the promised land” as part of a new born Zionist plan. They come back to make it even tighter for the Palestinians to live. It could be citizens coming home after a long vacation somewhere in south Europe or South America or maybe doing business in the US. Let’s face it coming or leaving, you have to come across some of these sites of misery and you have to wonder while you see these little faces racing and begging for money. You have to know. Then I remembered this poster I saw in the elevator the other day. It was a promotional free trip to Israel for the students at Einstein. It was intended for medical students who are Jewish (of course) and followed a very well planned trip that covered all the main ‘attractions’ and the best the ‘Jewish’ land can offer. How nauseating to see those pictures of people rafting and swimming after I see heart wrenching pictures of starving kids, in that same country, but just so happen to live on the other side of justice. Kids whose misery and pain invisible to most.

What has been very surprising to me is that, aside from the Lebanon/Israel war, all the raids and siege and turmoil that the Israeli government had bestowed on the Palestinians in Gaza after the Hamas election went completely unnoticed even by Israelis. How could there be a country where part of the population is living a complete and utter injustice and inhumanity and suffering under the most brutal illegal occupation and the other part of the population lives and thrives and surfs and apply to scientific conferences and go on summer vacations?

Then I remembered Lebanon! Pictures of parties in Brummana, tea in Marjiyoun...

Throughout the war, I kept quiet. I wrote about things that bring us together. We had to keep a united front. We had to stay strong and then everything follows. The war is now over and I see a lot of people taking the first chance (many did not even wait for the war to end) to attack the other party accusing them of taking a unilateral decision (so ironic) of war and peace, etc.. Away from politics, I would like to register my first resentment against a part of the Lebanese people who appeared to be, if not indifferent in the most part, even apologetic to the enemy and downright encouraging to the killing of the people in the South. Very daring to say that but we all have heard it one way or another. I have personally heard it from our coordinators. I have heard it from personnel at the embassies having tried to get heads of congregations to encourage people to protest to the killing of civilians. We have all seen it on CNN. I will come out and say this. I do not come from any denomination. Growing up, I remember Christmas at Albert Mansour as I remember Ramadan with the Mufti. I am, however, against people who stand solely opposed to their fellow human beings based on their religion or their political status. I cannot still believe in a leader that looked the other way as massacres took place or believe in one that promoted massacres. Based on that, I am against all the criminals in power. The suits and the moustaches, the autocrats and the theocrats, the communists, the Arab nationalists, the fascists, the leaders of the mountains, the criminals of Damour and Karantina and Sabra and Shatila, the little heroes who reminisce of the black times while chuckling here and there. With each chuckle I see a dying woman. With each notion of victory a dying child and a dying nation and our dead dreams.

I have heard the silliest attacks on one religion against another. Calling mohammad a criminal and Islam a religion of wars. As if your bible is not, like mine, a saga of wars and battles. As if the crusaders invaded with knowledge or understanding. I have heard accusations They call their tactics shock and awe. My dear dear fellow Lebanese of all faiths, denominations, loyalties and schools of thoughts, we brag about being immune to shock and immune to awe. It is true. I was devastated during this war but I was not shocked. What shocks me is our history. What awes me is our politics. For how many black days and black decades are we willing to withstand before we become a people.

Wars will remain wars. The land of turmoil still boils. Moses’ hands are not clean of military maneuvering, trickery and looting. The heroes of invasions and conquers and battles in the name of religion and profit and expansion and roots and belonging and prevailing are nothing but war criminals. The Israelites and the philistines fought till death over land. We still are perpetuating this same legacy today. Aside from fighting over seats and over our historical divisions and conflicts, let’s fight for some children who are fighting to survive. While we're at it, let's fight for our dignity.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

A train trip

The train was late that day. She waited by the third sign. Somewhere in the middle of all the chaos and the noise and the utter waste of human relations, she was deep in her thoughts. So much has happened that she finds herself on the verge of another trip. The time has come to see him and that’s all she could think about for the past two weeks. The summer was gone. Another summer of her life full of dreams intercepted with still emotions and awkward situations. This summer was nothing short of a miracle. So much has changed, she kept repeating to herself. The train is finally here. She gathered her little luggage, her book and her chocolate bar. She will see him soon and all will be solved. She loved the trip from Frankfurt to Heidelberg. She looked at the ticket: Frankfurt, 17:00 p.m., destination: Heidelberg 18:00 p.m. It was the time when most people commuted back to their little life in the lost city by the river. The train would be full of young hopeful professional faces. Those sophisticated types who wear the latest craze eyeglasses and work their delicate fingers through their keyboards throughout the trip. Too busy to look around and too self-important to stop working for a second. She took the same trip but she had a different destination. She took advantage of their silly parading endeavors to peek into their lives. Reading faces has always been like reading life lines to her. Colorful lives spread like open books reflected through haircuts and expressions and nervous ticks. It had nothing to do with the features, she always chose to believe, it is about the way people wear their faces. She noticed the man sitting across from her in particular. Something about him was different. Something about the way he carried himself stood out and was hard to figure out. He didn’t look striking except in his flawless simplicity. He was fashionable in his indifference. He had an air about him. A perfectly proportionate face but that wasn’t what stopped her. It might be the way he moved his hands as he reached into his briefcase and the way he flipped through his pages. He moved in perfect harmony and a smooth physical phrasing. His movements were slow and almost hypnotizing. He had a constant calm expression short of a smile but far from a non-permissive unkind face. She had to look away. She made herself look away. Almost half the time is gone. He has to be waiting for her like he usually does. With her favorite tulips and his warm arms. She thinks about that night. The night she tormented him for the first time. She remembers how she sat down caressing her hip and carelessly looking outside that window as he became enraged. She remembered how good it felt to know that she had him where she wanted him. The man stood up. It is the second long stop. He probably went for coffee. As she looked around she couldn’t find any other interesting character to focus on. At least for this trip she will stay with that man. He’s back. Yes he’s back with a cup of espresso. I would love to make him some of my Turkish coffee she thought. She then remembered the last time she saw him. She waved goodbye by the window like she does. She always leaves knowing they will meet again soon. That time she wasn’t sure. She couldn’t forget his coldness and indifference that ripped her heart out. She clearly remembers him standing there with his wet hair wearing that shirt she likes like it was yesterday. She remembers her bitterness at that moment and how he left her on the verge of tears. The man just spilled coffee on himself. She started laughing. He then looked at her and laughed. She could now see what stopped her in his face. He fixed himself and left. She waved at him and smiled. She looks at her ticket again: Heidelberg, 18:00 p.m. destination Frankfurt. She stays still in her seet and she takes the ride back home. She knows there are no tragedies in love. There are just old and new loves.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

That building!

Is what i was telling you about
Almost standing but not quite
With half a face, half identity
And sometimes half dignity
Perforated to the heart
But open to all
Had seen it all
In the middle of Beirut...

Monday, September 11, 2006

My Love and my Life

They say all babies look the same!
Please!... Who said that?
How can anyone see them with my eyes?
How can my eyes see them and not smile
And not cry.. How can i not lose my mind...
When one cries and the other giggles
When i spoil them
When they say my name the first time
When they won't leave me
When one holds my hand
With his tiny hand.. All day..
When they hide in me...
When they trust you, when they know you
They can comfort you and take you away
In their little world...
And you want to give them the world
And save them from the world...
How can i not regret every minute spent away from them
Away from my soul, myself, from my love.. From my life...
Been tagged… Damn it!

I’ve been tagged by my evil twin

Here are the questions and the answers:

1- Do you like the look and the contents of your blog?

I pledged a picture and a small passage for every memory and every feeling that I go through. I usually write and go. I don’t take a look till after a short while and I’m always surprised at my state of mind at the time. That I like.

2- Does your family know about your blog?

Only my sister indulges me. The rest of my family doesn’t have time for my scribblings.

3- Can you tell your friends about your blog? Do you consider it a private thing?

At first I was telling everyone i know and asking everyone to start their own blog. It felt like a reunion. With time it got to be a little space were I try to run away from everyone. So it became more private.

4- Do you just read the blogs of those who comment on your blog? or you try to discover new blogs?

I’m a regular at some blogs. People I know. People I got to know. People I admire. I do check the blogs of people who comment and might become a regular if I liked what I saw.

5- Did your blog positively affect your mind? Give an example.

It sure does. It is a stress release and that surely keeps my mental health. It also stimulates me to keep notes and learn more about stories I want to share.

6- What does the number of visitors to your blog mean? Do you use a traffic counter?

I use a traffic counter and I hate when the number of visitors dramatigally plummets. I become my own agent worried about ratings.. No.. I care more about the people who comment. I think people only comment when something speaks to them.

7- Did you imagine how other bloggers look like?

I do that all the time.

8- Do you think blogging have any real benefit?

We covered that.

9- Do you think that the blogsphere is a stand alone community separated from the real world?

Blah… Blah… Blah…
No, especially not when the mainstream media starts quoting blogs and starts a segment about what’s new in political blogs.

10- Do some political blogs scare you? Do you avoid them.

Yes. Being used to the Lebanese politics, I find it hard to refute any theory that defies the mainstream opinion but some blogs are either too far to the right, which I find appaling or too far to the left to a point where you start doubting everything and it gets scary.

11- Do you think that criticizing your blog is useful?

No. You can criticize how I look, how I walk, how I think. My blog is a reflection of my state of mind and to a great exent my character. There’s no point in criticizing that.

12- Have you ever thought about what happen to your blog in case you died?

Ummm… No!

13- Which blogger had the greatest impression on you?

Tara and Neil. See for yourself.

14- Which blogger you think is the most similar to you.

Can’t say. I identify with certain aspects of some bloggers’ writings. I share a lot of Apokraphyte’s ideals and principles. Ghassan writes about a very similar emotional experience. Lirun in his spirit and stubborness. I wish I could say fz, I love her imaginative prose and I truly identify with everything she writes. Ok I guess within our little circle, I feel we’re all very similar.

15- Name a song you want to listen to?

Rfee’e Soub7i ljeez :)

16- Ask five bloggers to answer these question on their blogs?

My melting rays...

Tu me manques

Yes. As absurd as it is and I know you’re a man of logic...
I miss you… I do…
I feel a little empty. Just a little. How strange is that?.. How strange those small moments of happiness were anyway?
The ultimate deception is to deceive oneself. But let’s not be so radical.
Let’s call ourselves romantics. Living in a perfect world. That we created so cunningly to swindle our vain existence into moments of fantasy. Just a little.
Let’s live yet another love affair built on dreams alone.
Let’s borrow from the sun its possessive embrace to the earth and live an elaborate myth of possessing each other.
Let’s borrow from the moon’s stories of cuddling with the oceans and fake waves and waves of love and devotion.
Let’s be jealous of the stars flirting with the night and shine a light that doesn’t fade but for moments of drunkenness with nothing but life…
Let’s fall in love,
Just a little…

(I took the picture in Ibiza May 2006)
My night prayer...

Read this article by Patrick Cockburn
To donate to the children of Gaza and Lebanon, go here.

A thousand and more prayers to the gods’ ears. For your pain my brothers. My tears are bashful. May the days be merciful to your suffering. May your worries and your screams cease. Hope their glory and ruthlessness come tumbling. Hope your children sleep peacefully. Guarded with angels’ whispers. Caressed with a hopeful breeze... For we are human, for we do not know the harm we do, for our arms do not protect you and our eyes do not see you. Forgive us please...

(picture i took inside the cathedral at the Barrio Gotico, Barcelona)

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Un peu retro...Un peu folle aujourd'hui

You say we remain timeless
you say you follow my every clue
You say we were a compass
How can i deny what's true
But darling this restlesness
Is a fire not for you...

Padam padam tu sais?
Et je t'aime toujours
De l'aube jusqu'a la nuit
Comme Jacqui l'a dit
mais tu sais mon amour
que je n'ai jamais pleure
Pour ne pas etre seule
Alors avec les mots
De nos amis
C'est vraiment pas fini
cette petite comedie...

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Saturday, September 09, 2006


You know very well things have not changed since that day
The tide still brings me back and the winds take you away
As we always meet for a promise for a lie and for a smile
As you safely criticize what you didn’t and won’t know
As you dwell on the past and as you hide for a while
And you follow some path from the sun to the snow
Days and then years wrapped a precious memory
Around and as the times changed we curl down
And we regress and in sterile lands we digress
We desecrate the remnants of a beautiful fire
And we see a little dream around the desire
I see the dream getting tighter every time
We were not perfect even in our prime
As I wrote romantic lines in my day
I could not… Ever write you away
Your story brushes not my soul
Not my heart, but my senses
What’s missing is still not
There, why can’t you
see how you made
Me see that we
Had to go…
I say,


(Picture in Heidleberg castle last May)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Tayyeb happy birthday gorgeous!

So much happened dear
And so much didn’t
Since the last time
You were here
I can't wait to tell you
And i know i won't...

For you,

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Monday, September 04, 2006

Et pour les sourires...


" L'amour, après tout, n'est qu'une curiosité supérieure, un appétit de l'inconnu qui vous pousse dans l'orage, poitrine ouverte et tête en avant."-Gustave flaubert

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Kevin Carter started capturing the life of the tortured and the starved in South Africa due to brutality of the Apartheid. It took the photographer 20 minutes of observing and adjusting to capture this award winning picture while the little girl was struggling to get to a source of water. Carter killed himself at the age of 34. His suicide not included these lines “I am haunted by the vivid memories of killings & corpses & anger & pain ... of starving or wounded children, of trigger-happy madmen, often police, of killer executioners”

(Palestinian girl obviously terrified as she gets arrested by the Israeli IOF)

(Lebanese child mourning his mother as she dies in his arms in the Israeli offense on Lebanon in the July war 'Operation just Reward')

Photographers have a duty to transmit these images to the public.
What about the rest of you silent observers?
You gaze with nothing but the lens God gave you at your fellow children of God in silence.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Keith Olbermann Blasts Rumsfeld On Facism

Saturday, September 02, 2006


Seasons have changed. Have they not?
It snowed and it rained
And it rained and rained
Through the years
My heart remained
With you

Do you not remember?
My Turkish coffee out on the balcony
A tea for you…

You will always be like that
A marguerite in a field of roses
Your light shines through your paleness
I read between your lines
I do not undermine… The language of silence
Do not be petrified by the flick of my lashes
Drawing a lazy interest
In you…

I wore my age backwards and stretched out
My back on the chilling beats of your heart
Do you not feel the change?
Walking down the years…

Longing for you
Before we even met
Young hearts and passion and
The world ahead.
A black box. An Arabesque fountain
Where you danced for me

Drunk with life
Drunk with pride
A red bag. A red roof
An isle that carried words
Lyrics and charcoal lines.
Our room furnished with
Faces and stories
and Callas
A triangle of confusion and tension
And walls of lies
Gods of pastries and cherries on ice…

A glass of white and Italian accents and skinny shoulders
A box of pictures and pages of folded memories.
Some lines you wrote for me
And lines I wrote for you
In my smiles

A cabin in a midst of fluff… the world reduced to bluffs
Stone-arched curves, where we carved our voices
A well of forgiveness where we wished for light
Shoulders thickening in the storms
Your body lying on my Bordeaux
Sharing a bath of pains
Cinnamon pine for Christmas and seeds of pine for poison
Our waves at the dock
And he sings the blues
While we invent the rules
Of tenderness

A broken engine… A broken back
You tears wiping away my awkwardness
My elbow warped behind the shelves
And your eyes on me
Telling him to leave me
They said a love was born
They still say it today
And we laugh…

A brown bag on the 101 steps
In the wilderness… with a chuckle
Some broken notes and a tango
Your shoulders became thicker than mine
Do you not realize?

How I held a sentence just enough
Just long enough
To hide your fate behind its letters
To paint your days in five letters
Short of a lifetime
To wane your fears with a short embrace
Warm enough to dissipate your uncertainty
Hesitant enough to keep you packing
And leaving
Have you not understood?

Wooden floors the smell of cement the smell of gas
The smell of exhaustion
The sand washing our worries
The bench on Pigale is where we met
The bench of luck is where I left you
And we always meet at benches
And my eyes will always meet yours
Behind the glass
Of moving wagons, of cold steel,
Of the rushing hours….
Do you not hear the echoes
Of the past?

And when you finally open that black box
When you learn to read my lines
And when I flip through your pages
Long enough…

Go wait for me on the balcony
My coffee will be next to your cup of tea

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(pic. Wilfrid Hoffacker)
Well... Close enough!

In the midst of the chaotic events...
A well remembered much appreciated gesture...