Lord Balfour chased out of Damascus
Have you heard of this British foreign minister Lord Balfour? He is the one who promised, in 1917, the Zionist movement to arrange for a parcel of land in Palestine in order for the Jews to emigrate and settle there.
April 9, 1925
Lord Balfour is visiting with the Zionists in Palestinians and is planning to visit Damascus by boarding a well-secure train from Haifa to Damascus, the capital of Syria, that was under French colonial mandated power.
As the train reached Deraa in the Houran province, close to current State of Jordan, the inhabitants converged to have a hostile curious look at this infamous character.
In Damascus, the British consul Smart waited for the train at the town of Kadem and whisked Balfour in a ready closed car so that Balfour is saved from the cursing of the people on his arrival and along the route.
A mass of students were waiting at the hotel Victoria and shouting: “Down with Balfour” and other similar “Enemy of the Arab people”, “lackey to the Zionist capitalists”… The crowd was dispersed.
The masses converged again with increasing violence and the owner of the hotel closed all the windows in order to save the glasses of being broken by the showers of stones.
Orators harangued the demonstrators and were applauded. The Moroccan Spahis (soldiers on horses at the pay of France) dispersed the crowed with their swords and wounded about twenty.
The people closed the Omayyad Mosque to this intruder. The shops in the souks were closed. A large demonstration was being planned for the next morning.
The gracious Lord was begged by a delegation of wise people for not honoring his presence any longer.
Lord Balfour was packed in a hurry and taken to Beirut, and immediately bordered the waiting ship. On in the ship did balfour felt in security.
All conquerors of Syria remember Damascus, and balfour was not to forget the sentiment of this welcoming Syrians.
Alice Poulleau recalls in her diary that she was lost in the hills surrounding Damascus on the day Balfour arrived. Her adventure had a very happy ending.
Fellahs (peasants) of Doummar redirected her trip and even hired a donkey cart driver (Arbaji) to take her to Damascus. The Syrian are very hospitable and confident with “good foreigners”
Note: This is one of the diaries of Alice Poulleau in her published book “A Damas sous les bombs” (In Damascus under the bombs) that she finished writing in 1925 and published it in 1926.
The book was banned from all the countries under the French occupation troops, and was only republished in 2012.
Crows: Smarter than Chimps and Elephants?
Apparently, crows, chimps and elephants are the only mammals that can fabricate tools for their survival, mainly to eat and dwell…
The brain of the crow has the same proportion to the body weight as chimps, but they might be more adaptable to the environment than chimps, and thus more able to survive.
Most animals and scavengers eat their own kinds, dead or alive when necessary. When a crow dies, the neighboring crows get together en mass, perched on a nearby tree or electrical line, wait in silence for 5 minutes and disperse very quietly…
The crow has about 250 different “crowing”: One for warning against cats, human, vulture…
Crows have two “dialects”: the high pitch is for the stranger crows and the lower pitch for the member of their clan.
They use clothing hangers to build their nests in urban environment. Japan suffers frequent train electrical outages caused by the hangers placed by the electrical lines. The Japanese squads for removing crow nests treat these birds on an equal footing in matter of ingenuity: They know that as the nest is removed, the crow is readying to replace it.
The crow drop a particular nut from a proper altitude to break it open.
The scientists discovered that these Skinner and Pavlov experiments on animals exhibited that the crows are the more performing species: What takes 750 trials for a dog, only half a dozen trials are needed for a crow to learn the proper technique to fetch his bonus food….
Crows can manipulate several steps in order to get the food: It can untie a small branch from a hanging line, remove the longer stick from a box, and then use this longer stick to retrieve the meat from a closed transparent box through the tiny hole… This bugger takes a good look around him before eating the ball of meat to make sure that no traps are set up
The crow learning curve is as good as children of 3 years old.
A young crow of 6 weeks can already fly. And learning for little crows is done by “flying games”. A few cultures nickname the crow the “Flying Chimp“
I may let my imagination run wild and consider this plausible event: A team of crows opening the lid of a bin outside a pizza or hamburger parlor. This is more feasible if the handles are designed to fit the crow beak. In any case, I don’t see why the crow will not use his strong claws to lift heavier lids…
Note: I watched part of a documentary on crows on the channel ARTE
Any Art in Public Speaking?
How can you manage to care about the message more than your own personal anxieties?
Are there ways to control your unlimited kinds of anxieties and phobias?
How can you care for the audience varied anxieties, listening to you?
I will develop on these two essential ingredients in public speaking: the message and the audience anxieties. But first:
“I’ve taught so many public speaking courses, worked with numerous speakers and speech-writers, and I don’t know why this has only fully dawned on me today.
Regardless of the amount of work you put into your speech, there is only one ingredient:
Care about the message more than your own personal anxieties.
While speaking, the internal monologue is usually as follows:
- what should I say next?
- will they like me?
- Am I looking ok?
- Will I forget my next point?
- Will the video work?
- Will people leave during my speech?…
And it is only when you can get out of your own head that you can truly connect with the audience.
How can you do that??
Simple. Learn to CARE about your example!
Care about your main point!
Understand why your audience NEEDS to hear what you have to say.
Realize that the speech isn’t about you (though it is your time in the spotlight!).
Once you get it that the speech is about the idea, then you will shine even more…and the spotlight will adore you for it!” End of Azzi post.
I am not an orator by any stretch of the imagination, and I never have taken courses or practiced oration.
I do know from teaching difficult university students that “caring for the audience anxieties” is the second essential ingredient.
The audience, who came willingly, voluntarily or pressured to attend to your speech and talk, require your full attention.
The audience is not here to confront you or fail you: They do want you to feel confident, relaxed, knowledgeable, and concerned for their presence.
The audience means to empathize with your natural anxieties: They feel how it is to be facing an audience.
The audience at talks is not sitting in a dark enclosure, and you are not an opera singer, an actor in a theater scene, or a fashion model… trying hard to look at a far away faked horizon
You have got to learn to detect concern, to select people in the audience, and engage frank eye contacts, with as many people as your speech last… as if the talk was meant for them…
You are trying to find out the level of interest, understanding, and how to tackle the message from different perspectives…
You have got to alter your tactics within the general prepared talk in order to unite with the audience.
The audience is not your enemy.
The audience is your ally and wants you to feel at home, after you have done your due diligence and your homework…
Why Blue-Eyed people are generally attractive?
The color of the hair doesn’t count.
The color of the skin doesn’t count
The softness of the skin does count
The shape of the visage, and form of the body count very much
The odor of the body counts humongously
The friendly felt smile is always welcomed
Why Blue-Eyed people are generally attractive?
Not the very light blue-eyes specimen: I shiver and feel stuck smack in the Arctic…
Why regular blue-eyed individuals are attractive?
These eyes reflect the beauty of nature, the natural environment… And nature is fundamentally lovely, no matter how green, gray, arid, equatorial or desert-like it is…
Regular blue eyes reflect the nice, stylish and well-designed interiors…
Dark eyes have advantages in gloomy, ugly, dirty man-made environment: They don’t reflect the nasty surrounding…
You can focus on the dark wide eyes and forget how ugly the places are…
You can concentrate on the smiles in the eyes, the soft voices, the intelligent and compassionate dialogue…
Regular blue eyes distract from the person-to person conversation and communication…
Eyes requiring corrective contact lenses are flexible: You select the color pairs of lenses to match the nature of the meeting, and your personal mood…
Warning: Never look straight at a bonfire or any hot flame for more than seconds. Your lenses will melt and you go blind…
I wish that I didn’t need corrective glasses in my childhood, and the hell which ever color my eyes are.
At least I could enjoy team physical games and all kinds of non-limiting outside exercises and excursions…
Syrian girls in refugee camps ‘sold’ into forced marriages
Syrian women and girls, some as young as 14 years old, are being ‘sold’ into forced marriages or prostitution after becoming refugees in Jordan, Turkey, and Lebanon, aid workers and religious charities have said.
In Jordan, hundreds of Syrian females have been affected by an informal trade that has sprung up since the start of the war in Syria, where men use “agents” to source Syrian refugees to use for sex.
Carol Malouf reported from the Zataari refugee camp in Jordan and her article is currently nominated by Amnesty International for an award
Ruth Sherlock posted in The Telegraph on Jan. 23, 2013
Often this is done under the guise of “marriage”: The ‘dowry’, which in Muslim society is traditionally paid by the groom as a guarantee of the bride’s security has become a payment for sex.
And the “marriage” is an affair that lasts only a few days or even hours.
(“zawaj al mot3at” or “pleasure marriages” are contract for short duration in due form, are being practiced intensively, particularly by Moslem tourists in Moslem countries in order to conform to a peculiar chariaa)
“We realised these were Mut’ah or ‘pleasure marriages’,” said Ziyad Hamad, whose charity, Kitab al-Sunna, is one of the largest organisations working with Syrian refugees in Jordan. “It is a fake marriage; they use handwritten documents that are not registered by a Shiekh [religious leader].
Men travelled from Saudi Arabia and other countries to marry girls in the camps. They would pay rent for a home outside the camp and tell the women they would support them. Then they would have sex with them and divorce them one week later.”
Mr Hamad said: “They would tell them: ‘we will marry you like this now and formalize it when we go to Saudi Arabia’. And they would leave and change their phone numbers. Many Syrian girls have been impregnated and abandoned in this way.”
Many of the young girls are sourced from refugee camps in Jordan that house more than 120,000 Syrian refugees.
Sexual violence and trafficking have become two grim realities of modern day warfare.
During the Iraq war thousands of Iraqi girls that fled to Syria ended up being pushed into the sex trade.
The International Rescue Committee recently published a report that found rape is now a “significant and disturbing” feature of the Syrian civil war, with women and girls citing this as a principle motive for escaping from the country.
Even once they have left Syria, they are not safe. Sitting in a flimsy dust covered tent in the crowded Zataari refugee camp, Zainab, an elderly mother of two daughters said: “Men are coming here to take young girls as second wives. It is under the pretext of being charitable, of helping us.”
One of Zainab’s nieces, a pretty slender young woman in her early twenties said she had received four marriage offers since arriving in the camp two months previously. Some were from Syrian families that she knew, but others were from complete strangers she said.
Guards at Zataari camp told The Daily Telegraph that they had frequently received requests by Arab men, mainly from Jordan or Saudi Arabia, to be given access to the camp so that they could find a “nice young bride“.
United Nations officials and aid agencies estimate that at least 500 under age Syrians have been married this year.
Sexual exploitation of women has become a sad reality that accompanies wars in the Middle East. Tens of thousands of young girls were funneled into the sex trade after they fled to Syria from Iraq after the 2003 invasion.
More overt prostitution is also common among Syrian refugees said Wissam, a Jordanian resident who knows people involved in the trade: “There is a women who acts like an agent, bringing the girls from the camps. The normal cost for one hour with a Syrian girl is 50JD, but if she only recently lost her virginity then you pay 100JD”.
One French aid worker inside Zataari camp said a woman in the camp regularly offers girls to the camp’s security guards.
The practice has caused outrage among the Syrian refugee community and in wider Jordanian society.
Mr Hamad’s charity has become one of the bodies connecting male suitors with Syrian brides, but he insists that the practice is not abusive because of the strict restrictions in place: “We initially issued a statement in newspapers and on websites saying we would not accept requests from Arab men to marry these girls. But that backfired; we became flooded with more requests! I then realized that many of these men have genuine intentions.”
The charity says it has married Syrian women to Muslim men from across the Arab world and from European countries, including Britain and France: “Most of our requests came from France. Sheikhs there called me and told me that I could not refuse to help with the marriages. They have good intentions and we only put them in contact with women if they abide by strict regulations that guarantee her well-being.”
Agencies have sprung up in Jordan and in countries as far away as Libya, to match men with their Syrian women.
“Men bargain a price for the girl, then the agency sends a woman employee into the camp and meet with the family of a girl to see if they will accept that price,” said a Syrian woman who did not want to be named, who works for a women’s rights’ organization.
Living in squalid conditions and deeply traumatized by their experiences in the Syrian civil war, many families see marrying their daughters to wealthy strangers as the best chance their daughters have at a normal life, an aid worker in Zataari camp who did not want to be named told the Daily Telegraph.
The Daily Telegraph followed Wissam as he posed as a client interested in marrying a girl: “I want a cheap Syrian girl,” said Wissam, with his phone on loudspeaker. “In Zarqa we have married 16 for a dowry cost of 2000JD,” came the reply. The men proceeded to bargain, with Wissam quoting lower figures than he said he had been offered in other camps.
“Before the revolution it cost several times that sum to marry a Syrian girl. Now it has become the running joke in Jordan that if you are running low on cash or finding it hard to get married, you should marry a Syrian girl,” said Wissam.
“It has become a business transaction“.
Tell Mr. Wehbeh: “Bahia has finally landed”
Hameed was seriously considering returning home toLlebanon: He just learned that his mother Zahia had passed away Actually, the reason Hameed travelled to New York just after WWI was to convince his elder brother Wehbeh to return home because his mother was heart broken: Her favorite eldest son has left her over 10 years ago and never showed sign of coming back for a visit.
News in the early 1920′s reached the toiling people overseas many weeks later.
An employee in Wehbeh’s restaurant in New York informed Hameed that a lady outside wants to meet with him. The worker said: “She is a lady“
On seeing the lady, Hameed felt a confusing impression of having met this woman when he was pretty young.
The lady greeted Hameed in English “Good morning” and resumed in a Lebanese Arabic slang: “Saida, Saida Mr. Hameed. Where is Mr. Wehbeh?
Hameed memory rewinded to over a decade ago, a scene of his father holding a whip, ready for action, and his brother Wehbeh raising a chair. The father spitting and shouting”Adabsis” (A turkish work meaning evil, naughty…)
Hameed recalls crossing the narrow streets in the city of Tyr (in south lebanon) in the Manara block, and a young girl walking the opposite side of the street. The girl looked briefly at Hameed. And here he is hearing the lady saying: “Tell Mr. Wehbet that Bahia has finally landed”
The story of Wehbeh Ne3meh and Bahia, the daughter of Simon the Copt, took place a few years before WWI. Wehbeh never witnessed the horror of this war or the famine that harvested a quarter of Lebanon’s population, and the onslaught of the locusts…
Wehbeh was a Moslem Shiaa and Bahia was a Christian Orthodox. They fell in love as Wehbeh was accompanying his Christian fisherman friend Hanna (John) to the church on a Sunday. Bahia dressed and walked differently from the girls Wehbeh saw in the city.
Since there was no chance for their families to agree on their wedding, this potential couple decided to elope and try to manage later a reconciliation between the families.
Wehbeh was to rent a room in the next city of Saida and wait for Hanna to bring Bahia by sea.
Wehbeh waited for three days and nights by the seashore, at the port, barely sleeping for fear of missing the encounter. He finally gave up and surreptitiously returned to Tyr by night in order not to meet any person and find out what was the problem.
Bahia was to be engaged to Iskandar, a old 55 year-old Christian man, and Wehbeh was apprehensive that the secret meeting was discovered and Bahia was hurriedly made to marry a man she didn’t care to live with.
Bahia stayed at her aunt. Bahia was to prepare a bag of her belonging, drop it at Hanna’s house, and join Hanna by nightfall to be whisked away on his small fisherman boat.
At the last day, Hanna had a terrible bout of bad conscience, sort of committing an unforgivable sin: He will be blamed for a mix marriage, considered an enemy to his religious sect, and banned from the city…
Hanna met with the priest and confessed. They both knelt and prayed for hours. The evil Shaitan (demon) was defeated. Only the priest and the aunt knew about the scheme: It was not proper to spread the news…
Wehbeh decided to leave Lebanon and ended up in New York.
These thwarted love stories based on religious differences were common before, and current even today, and will last for another century.
Note: This story is taken from “Memoires of a Shia Woman” by Raja2 Ne3meh (Rajaa Nemeh). Hameed will become the father of Rajaa
As Jews we say “Birthright” trips must end
As the summer months approach, thousands of young Jews from more than 60 countries prepare to participate in the Taglit-Birthright program.
Since 1999, Birthright has brought 340,000 young Jews to Israel on free 10-day trips. In the midst of the fervor to sign up for this bi-annual program, we have launched the website Renounce Birthright (renouncebirthright.org) with the aim of providing a space for potential participants to engage with critiques of Birthright and of Zionism.
We are non-Israeli Jews who oppose the program that promotes and supports Israel’s ongoing colonialism and apartheid policies, and marginalizes Jewish experiences in the diaspora.
We are calling for the end of the Birthright program, and encourage individuals to boycott the trips.
Birthright was created in response to concerns over increasing rates of intermarriage, the perceived “crisis of continuity” and the weakening of Jewish communal ties.
Over the course of the last decade, the program has worked to create and maintain commitment to Zionism and Israel on the part of non-Israeli Jews.
Birthright’s mission, according to the organization, is to “diminish the growing division between Israel and Jewish communities around the world; strengthen the sense of solidarity among world Jewry; and strengthen participants’ personal Jewish identity and connection to the Jewish people.”
The idea of strengthening “solidarity among world Jewry,” “personal Jewish identity,” and Israel’s “connection to the Jewish people” through trips to Israel is based on a conflation of Judaism with Zionism.
Judaism is a religion. Political Zionism is a movement based on the belief that Jews have a right to settle in modern-day Israel, to the exclusion of the indigenous Palestinians.
The term “Birthright” itself is telling.
Like its American counterpart, the ideology of manifest destiny, it operates under the premise that all Jewish people have an exclusive “right” to Palestinian land. In both the American and Israeli contexts, the only way to secure that “right” is through violence, land theft and displacement.
Settler-colonialism must be opposed, no matter where it takes place.
For non-Israeli Jews living in other settler-colonial countries, we must also be accountable to other processes of de-colonization. No group of people have the right to live anywhere that mandates the explicit exclusion of anyone else.
The establishment of the Israeli State, and the alleged Jewish “birthright,” involved the violent displacement of several hundred thousand indigenous Palestinians, and the destruction of hundreds of Palestinian villages. A Palestinian refugee population of nearly 7 million people is to this day excluded from returning to their lands by Israeli state discrimination.
In contemporary Israel — where approximately one-fifth of the population is Palestinian — the rights of citizenship (ezrahut) and nationality (le’um) are intentionally distinct. Palestinians born within the 1949 armistice line are considered citizens (and not nationals).
Meanwhile a Jew born and raised in New York has a “birthright” to the Israeli state in Palestine, is considered a national, and can almost immediately become a citizen upon emigrating.
Maintaining a myth
Birthright in particular — as a part of the Zionist project — relies on the belief that non-Israeli Jews are national-citizens-in-waiting, a reality from which Palestinian refugees are forever excluded.
We would have no “Birthright” without Israeli occupation and apartheid — it is how Zionism sustains the myth of “a land without a people, for a people without a land.”
Birthright has spent more than $600 million since its inception in 1999. The organization has three major sources of funding: the Israeli government (which committed another $100 million to Birthright in 2011), wealthy donors such as Charles Bronfman, and Jewish federations across North America (“The romance of Birthright Israel,” The Nation, 15 June 2011).
In a 2012 speech delivered to Birthright participants, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “So when you go out and people tell you things about Israel, tell them about what you saw. Make sure when you go back home, tell them about the real Israel” (“PM Netanyahu’s speech at Taglit-Birthright Israel mega-event”).
Convincing non-Israeli Jews to defend Netanyahu’s “real Israel” is an integral part of Birthright, and helps explain the government’s investment in the program.
The program’s largest financial supporter, billionaire Sheldon Adelson — who has provided $140 million to the program — was described in The New York Times last year as having “disgust for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” (“What Sheldon Adelson wants,” 23 June 2012).
Beyond individual donors, non-Israeli Jewish community organizations and institutions — such as the Jewish Federations of North America and the Jewish Agency for Israel — support Birthright economically and politically.
In the name of diasporic Jewish communities, these organizations invest millions of dollars into the promotion of Birthright’s political Zionism, rather than in local projects.
Despite all this, Birthright claims to be apolitical.
In 2006, Birthright Director of Marketing Gidi Mark said: “I don’t think it’s political for Jews to support Israel” (“Come, see Palestine!” Salon.com, 5 June 2006).
However, the establishment and maintenance of an exclusively Jewish Israel — through forcible displacement, land theft, occupation, segregation, institutionalized racism and systemic discrimination — is political at its core, and is both supported and reinforced by the Birthright program.
For instance, during the trip, approximately 10,000 Birthright participants visit the Ahava cosmetics factory each year; Ahava is located in the illegally-occupied West Bank settlement of Mitzpe Shalem. Ahava directly profits from the exploitation of Palestinian Dead Sea resources.
Moreover, disturbing accounts of explicit racism have arisen in recent years; former participants often recount how the language used by Birthright personnel demonizes Palestinians. One past attendee said her Birthright tour guide told her group that “Arabs have wanted to kill Jews forever, that they are ‘like mosquitoes’ we must swat away” (“So you’re thinking of Birthright,” Mondoweiss, 20 December 2012).
Zionism is a political project, and Birthright is perhaps the most tangible manifestation of that political project outside Israel.
As such, we must recognize our engagements with Birthright as a question of politics, and not just “a free vacation.”
In reinforcing the belief that what it means to be Jewish is to be Zionist (particularly for non-Israeli Jewish youth), Birthright perpetuates a single narrative about what it means to be Jewish outside of Israel, and who can be a Jew.
Jewish people speak and have spoken an array of languages, live and have lived across the world, and possess different histories that extend beyond the narrow confines of political Zionism and the nation-state of Israel.
It is contemporary political Zionism that has “othered” Mizrahi/Arab-Jews, as New York University professor Ella Shohat explains, by urging Arab Jews “to see their only real identity as Jewish,” such that their “Arabness, the product of millennial cohabitation, is merely a diasporic stain to be ‘cleansed’ through assimilation” (“The invention of the Mizhahim,” Journal of Palestine Studies, Volume 29, No. 1, Autumn 1999).
Further, Israel’s policy towards Ethiopian Jews in recent years demonstrates how the limits of Jewishness are often defined through Zionism. There is a clear tension between Birthright’s claim to promote diasporic life, and the fact that it the program is so deeply rooted in Zionism, an ideology that homogenizes the experiences and identities of Jews.
Our alleged Birthright can only exist through the suppression and erasure of many Jewish identities, histories and experiences.
Liberation in Palestine is a question of land, colonialism and apartheid — not religion. The work of Jewish and Israeli organizations and collectives such as Zochrot, Boycott from Within, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, and Israeli Queers Against Apartheid attests to this fact.
As scholar Judith Butler has explained: “there have always been Jewish traditions that oppose state violence, that affirm multi-cultural co-habitation, and defend principles of equality, and this vital ethical tradition is forgotten or sidelined when any of us accept Israel as the basis of Jewish identification or values” (“Judith Butler responds to attack,” Mondoweiss, 27 August 2012).
No right to apartheid
We have founded Renounce Birthright because Birthright demands our complicity in two intersecting (but distinct) forms of violence: first, the occupation of Palestine and the Israeli government’s brutal regime of apartheid and second, the erasure and suppression of diverse Jewish experiences and communities across the world.
In organizing for Palestinian liberation, we are deeply committed to the belief that Jewish experiences and narratives — particularly North American Jewish experiences, including our own — should not be centered.
As Mezna Qato and Kareem Rabie explained in their recent article for Jacobin magazine: “the left often neglects these anti-colonial principles and seeks out Jewish voices to validate Palestinian claims. In turn, it privileges Jewish discourse, anxieties, and histories in ways that marginalize Palestinians in their own struggle” (“Against the Law,” Spring 2013).
We recognize that our struggles are greatly distinct yet related, and are engaged in this project first and foremost from a position of solidarity.
We call on non-Israeli Jews across the diaspora to join us in renouncing Birthright— and our privileged legal relationship to the Israeli state — because we have no right to apartheid and colonialism.
Note: Aviva Stahl grew up in New Jersey and now lives in London; she is the US researcher for CagePrisoners and a collective member of Bent Bars. She can be followed on Twitter @stahlidarity.
Sarah Woolf is an editorial intern at The Nation magazine. Hailing from Montréal, she currently lives in New York City.
Sam Elliott Bick is from Montreal, Québec. He is a member of the Tadamon! collective, and organizes at the Immigrant Workers Center. He can be followed on Twitter @sam_Bick.
The authors can be contacted by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.