Adonis Diaries

Archive for March 1st, 2009

“As the Crow lost its way” (A short story, December 30, 2008)

 

Note: This is a fictitious short story. I wrote it shortly after the genocide in Gaza started. If a version of this story didn’t happen yet, it might after Gaza horrors.

 

Harun (Aaron) was an Egyptian Jew who was whisked to the State of Israel in 1953 by a clandestine Zionist group.  Three months ago, Ben Gurion had ordered the Mossad to wage a campaign of assassination of a few Egyptian Jews residing in Egypt and to blow a couple of Synagogues in Alexandria; this campaign was meant to frighten the Jews into leaving Egypt.

Sara was a Polish Jew who immigrated in 1947 to Palestine to flee poverty and deprivation.  She was indoctrinated into the Zionist movement and participated in active duty into the massacre of civilian Palestinians in towns close to Haifa.

Aaron met Sara who was pregnant after an affair with a Zionist officer who died during a battle to transfer Palestinians from their villages.  Harun and Sara got married.  When the pregnancy of Sara was in her eight month Harun was ordered for duty.  Harun was reluctant of leaving Sara at this stage, but Sara reprimanded him and urged him never again to fail Eretz Israel’s purposes for establishing a Jewish State. 

It was a crucial period in 1950.  One Zionist political group wanted to resolve the problem with the Palestinians according to the UN resolution number 194; the resolution mandated relinquishing the conquered land during the independence days of 1948, accepting a Palestinian State, and the return of the Palestinian refugees.  The other “hawkish” zealot Zionists of Ben Gurion, Moshe Dayan, and Sharon wanted to expand even further.

In order to corner the “moderate” factions into a “fait accomplit”, the Zionist zealots invaded the town of Qibiya in October 1953, and massacred 42 Palestinian civilians and blew-up 41 houses.  The village of Qibiya was in Jordan, but Israel wanted revenge because 4 years earlier, Qibiya had resisted Israel terrorists’ infiltration during the “independence period”.  Harun was within a support group and he witnessed the massacre and participated in dumping the bodies in a common grave hole.

            Harun begged Sara to leave Israel and start an honest life; Sara had but contempt and demanded that Harun leaves without her and the children since she is staying for the duration.  Harun had to remain with Sara.  Seventeen years later, two Palestinian feddayins infiltrated a colony outpost and kidnapped a Jewish family in their home.

 

Kassem nodded and looked at the cadet redheaded kid.  Youssef gently pushed the girl in front of her parents and slid her throat in a quick talented motion.  Sara opened her mouth for her first uncontrollable surprise; her rigid eyes wavered in disbelief.  Harun fainted.  An entire minute of loud silence floated in the room. 

In the meantime, Youssef carted the body to the basement where a burner was just starting to roar. Sara tried hard not to stutter but failed miserably and babbled: “Where are you taking my baby?” The silence resumed after the echo reverberated a few times around the room. “Why? …A kid…  Slaughtered!” Kassem replied in boredom: “What is confusing you?  Is it the killing of a kid or the method?” 

Harun was recovering and his eyelids were fluttering as if coming out from a nightmarish dream and then abruptly straightened up as reality set in. “How could you slaughter a kid?” roared Harun.  Kassem answered in a less cool tone: “This is a sacrificial ceremony; only halal ways is valid in cold-blooded murder”

Sara was recovering some of her wits and her argumentative style came forward: “How murder is halal?” Kassem was nonplussed: “At least we are no cowards using jet fighters and heavy guns to turn into mash the flesh and bones of children and civilians in their homes”  Harun shouted “But we never slaughtered but sacrificial animals”  Everybody understood that Harun has lost it and that he was turning on automatic his academic behavior.  Harun was not worth listening to at this phase. 

Kassem continued to the intention of Sara: “Have you kept tab on the thousand of terrorist acts that you masterminded since before the recognition of the State of Israel by the so-called United Nations?  Have you ever heard that the UN condemned once the large-scale massacres of your Zionist State?” Sara was totally indignant: “What we did was State orders; we never committed such monstrosity on an individual basis.  What you did is crime against humanity!”  It was obvious that Sara also had lost it, and she was feverish and shivering.  Kassem decided to cool it for another two minutes. It was just on instinct, since this was Kassem’s first cold revenge: this silence was very needed for the nerves to explode on both sides.

Kassem  asked Sara: “Do you know the original name of this village, Saraaaa?  I don’t think you ever cared.  Harun did a small inquiry several years ago; he must have told you, didn’t he?”  Subconsciously, Harun nodded his head and then recovered but refused to look at his wife.  Sara exploded: “What do I care what this village was called? We bought this house with our hard-earned savings.”

Kassem continued as if he was not listening to Sara’s lucubrations: “This was the village I was born in.  I lived the best five years of my life here.  My whole family was massacred by the terrorist Irgun of Menahem Begin. A surviving elder told me that my village had a non-aggression pact with the neighboring Jewish colonies. We even stupidly denied passage to the Arab contingent defending this sector.  Harun must have related the story to you Saraaa?” 

Another minute sank in.  Sara shook her shoulders several times and shouted “But I had not immigrated to Israel when all that took place.”  Kassem said: “Nevertheless, the majority of Jewish mothers raised their children to become zealot Zionists.”  Harun flicked his head toward Sara: that was a statement he fully comprehended and dreaded.  Kassem noticed Harun’s reflex and resumed “All the facts and atrocities were never ground for reflection and atonement.  Did the massacre in this village kept you awaking a single night, Saraaa?”

Youssef had returned.  Kassem motioned with his head toward the second girl.  Youssef walked softly toward the chair of the girl.  Harun screeched “NO, please, let us talk” Kassem said: “You have a choice. What shall it be: Your girl or your wife?”  Harun instinctively nodded toward his wife but could not utter a word.  Hatefully, Kassem rub it in: “When you asked Sara for her hand you talked.  If the life of your second girl is as important then I need a full sentence” Harun failed to say a word and hoped that his silence might talk louder.  Sara stabbed her husband with burning eyes; she just realized that Harun had no affection for her.  She had no affection for her husband for years now, but this does not count: her husband was supposed to love her till death did them apart; that was the deal.

Youssef then walked behind the girl, grabbed her chin and performed his expert motion.  The elder son and his folks were numb; this ordeal of cool deja-vu was totally out-of-place and devoid of any comprehension.  Youssef carried down the body to the basement.  The house smelled the steaks. Harun fainted again.  Kassem deigned to douse Harun with a bucket of water.

When Yousef returned Kassem looked at Harun and said: “You have a choice.  Either your son or your wife”  This time Harun did not waver; he looked straight in the eyes of his wife and he saw unlimited hatred as if she made the mistake of the century by marrying this weak, spineless man.  Harun said firmly: “Spare my son.  I have been weak and failed the wisdom that blood draw blood.  My son will never return to this forsaken land of Israel”.  Sara was furious and regaining her previous heinous aggressiveness hysterically kept shouting: “Kill us all. Shoot us as we killed you, you bastards.  Shoot us as war criminals.  We deserve to be treated according to the human rights conventions”

 

Kassem was contemplating sparing Sara’s life to give hell to the rest of the family.  Since Youssef and he will not survive this kidnapping then he might as well take revenge on the apartheid woman: Harun deserved a reprieve thought Kassem and then said with a broad smile: “Woman, it was not a pleasure meeting you”. Kassem and Youssef bolted out the door peppering their submachine guns in all directions.

 

Introspection: Barbara (Addendum #1)

Barbara made me walk on air

Note: I have written most of the addendum of my autobiography at least six years earlier, as I was trying to learn more about my behaviors by re-creating my life story, during a somewhat depressed phase, after my return to Lebanon.  I have realized that the best refresher for memory is to recall your relationship with women.  It seems that the extreme mood swings of women leave strong marks on memory.  The resilient nature of women and their compassion, when in love, cannot but add clues to your emotional levels and the trajectory of improvement to understanding life’s complex fabrics. These addenda are sort of detailed introspection of the daily emotions.

I Should Have Told Barbara (Jan. 2003)

Sue insisted that I get in touch with her sister Barbara on my trip to Los Angeles. It was the  summer of 1976.

I was in the USA for less than 11 months, my first ever trip outside my country. The International Office at the University of Oklahoma arranged a trip for one week to California, for some of us new international students.

We were to meet American families in this exchange program.  I did not care meeting any American families for the time being, but I needed to get away in my second summer and wanted to see California.  I was 27 of age and had never tasted a cigarette yet.

The International student adviser knew about my Near Eastern origin. The program matched me with an old Jewish couple in Pasadena. The husband was very helpful and friendly but his wife gave me the impression that she agreed reluctantly to join the program. The house was large with an unkempt garden.  The interior looked old, traditional, very gloomy, and smelling like it was never aerated and reeking of old people. It is a crime to surprise youths with living among old people without prior preparations and warnings. We should be reminded that elder people are great people, still very much living humans, who could be funny, and could be functional…

We had a general gathering the first day with all the families and various students. Then we were given the daily program of places to see and whatever. We were to see Disney Land the next day for free.  I declined the invitation: Disney Land is for kids. I remember that I had another chance to visit Disney for free, two years later. I again declined. Disney was still just for kids.

Many years later, I discovered that everybody liked to see Disney, including kids. I never saw Disney in California, but the smaller version in Orlando with my nephews. My little nephews and nieces, then 5 in total, loved Disney but less than I did.

My old host drove me for two hours to the meeting place with Barbara. He drove two hours to pick me up three hours later. I still can visualize Barbra after thirty years, coming toward me in white shirt, long brown skirt reaching a little below her knees, almost touching her long brown cowboy boots. Her boots must have added several inches to her stature.


Barbara is not tall, but the vision is always of a tall and grand lady. She appeared taller than me but my pride increased correspondingly, being by her side. Her maybe dyed long blond-brown hair was raised over her beautiful head. She was glamor incarnate.  She hugged me and made me feel I was a dear friend, of long time, whom she missed badly.

She spoke with effusion and earnestness. She wanted to know all that is to know, instantly, about how her sister is doing, what about her sister’s boyfriend who was my friend, about their relationship, about Oklahoma her home State, about everything but me.

I was glad that I was not the object of the conversation then, but not so glad now. We walked together so close, and I was walking on air.  I felt that I must look the most glamorous guy, a most glamorous guy in the whole wide world.

I asked permission from my host family to move at Barbara’s for the duration of the program and they agreed. I walked to Beverly Hills the next morning to see her in the fashion store she managed. She received me like a VIP and was happy at my surprised visit. I wanted to be with Barbara every second of my trip to California.

I accepted to attend a conference in Los Angeles a couple of years later, hoping to see Barbara again. It was an important political conference but my heart was not in it. My friends drove me through Beverly Hills where the rich and glamorous live, but I was not impressed. Finally, giving up, they gave me a lift from Anaheim to West Hollywood. I called up Barbara and I invited myself to stay overnight at her apartment.  She had many friends.

She was attached at the moment to a fashionable young man, working in fashion and with fashion, but they had problems. She appeared depressed and disappointed and not in the mood for me. Her TV was on 24 hours.  I slept and woke up with the TV on.

I visited her six years later during my second extended trip to the USA: Barbara’s sister had told me that Barbara was married and living in Oklahoma City. She did not look the same Barbara. She was skinnier. Her skin looked darker, her face emaciated, down to earth, resigned and decked in simple blue jeans and an old black sweater.

Barbara was married to a full-blooded American Indian, she a half-blooded. A soft-spoken husband he was, a polite artist who toured the USA exhibiting his paintings. She stayed at home designing jewelry and managing her man’s business.

I had accepted her invitation for a Thanksgiving lunch. I went down to Oklahoma City for an important and specific purpose of mine: I was determined to tell Barbara my secret. I went down with my steady girl friend at the time:  I still had no car.

Barbara’s eyes had an ironic shine looking at my oriental short friend. She asked my friend all kinds of questions about our relationship, how we met and what are our plans. She said to me: “You know, someone needs news about your friend”. She meant that her sister needed to know the whereabouts of her ex-husband. I had lost track of the whereabouts of my friend too and could not be of much help.

Barbara was entitled to know the truth; that the first time she walked with me she made me feel that I was the most glamorous guy in town. But I did not tell Barbara the truth. I don’t recall that I talked during my two hours stay. Maybe it did not feel right at that moment. But I should have persevered on my initial decision: This truth is hers no matter what.

She could be sixty, but age does not erase the feeling, that to my young eyes, she was the most glamorous woman I set my eyes on. She could live to be a hundred, but age does not change the fact, that Barbara made me once walk on air.

Designing what? The Human Factors Concept

 

The bottom line in industrial engineering is to design a system that would optimize production, inventory, distribution, material handling by maximizing profit or minimizing cost or finding a trade-off that would satisfy the marketing department, the shareholders, the after sale, the union, the consumer product, and the health and safety agencies and so forth.

Now we can recognize that optimizing a system involves inter-relationship among various interested groups of people.  The inter-relationship with consumers, operators, employees, workers, management, and shareholders requires a good understanding of the research done in psychology, sociology, marketing, econometrics and other social studies. This fact is anathema to mathematical solutions that do not consider constraints on human needs, demands, safety and health regulations and specifications, and variability in capabilities and limitations and ethnic idiosyncrasies.

Can industrial engineering discipline be of any aid to small and family based businesses and industries with limited financial resources and marketing scope?  It should be of aid if the boss is an industrial engineer but my opinion is that this discipline is geared toward large industrial complex that hires many employees and workers even if many sections are automated.  Designing an optimum system of production without serious awareness of the research done in the consequences of shift work, pay rate, sleep deprivation, and the political infighting among departments, management, syndicates and employees is tantamount to failure.  We can understand that there are many strong and interesting interactions among industrial, social, psychological and business administration fields.

Whether we like it or not human factors engineering that studies the capabilities and variability of the human element, his health and safety and risk taking tendencies or avoidance should be an intrinsic part of designing work production.  The reality is that companies are wary of hiring generalists such as industrial or human factors engineers for the benefit of specific specialties that are much more in demand because they are better known, even if a global view and comprehension of a system can, in the medium and long terms, deliver much better performance in production, minimizing lost work days, turnover, human aches and pains, emotionally and physically. 

Private companies conjecture that they cannot afford human factors engineers whose jobs are designing interfaces for end users to interact efficiently with complex systems; this is partly true because experimenting with human subjects is time consuming and very costly when dealing with the innumerable variables involved in studying the behavior of workers, employees, engineers and consumers.

I like the current tendency to label industrial engineering as engineering management because the scope matches the management requirement and responsibilities and avoid the connotation with mechanical design and fabrication.

Bi-Weekly Report (#13) on the Middle East and Lebanon (March 1, 2009)

The US Administration has usurped President Obama authority and squandered his promises to fight racism and apartheid systems for a just and peaceful world. 

First, this US Administration has declined to join the world conference to fight racism and apartheid on the ground that Israel would be very displeased since the conference would discuss the Zionist State genocide activities in the Palestinian Gaza and the West Bank territories.  What the US Administration wants the world to comprehend is that any criticism of the Zionist State is invariably anti-Semitic.

Second, the policies of this administration are no different of the Bush Junior administration concerning the Middle East; this administration wants the world to understand that the mistakes of the previous administration were in matter of negotiation procedures and technicality. So far, this administration has refrained of any dialogue with Hamas and the Palestinian resistance factions who won in a democratically election.

Third, this administration is still resuming air strikes against civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan, confirming the Bush Junior orders for accepting “collateral damage” strategy.

Fourth, the heavy funding of under performing private multinational institutions is resuming the same Bush Junior trend.

            Israel is trying to accommodate new realities.  When the US President Eisenhower checked Israel expansionist policies in the sixties the Zionist State adopted a containment strategy of the Arab States: it allied with Turkey, Iran, and Ethiopia.  Now that its former allies are no longer in the mood of alienating the Arab States for the sake of blue eyed Jewish Ashkenazi then Israel has attempted to divide the Arab States between the “Moderate” (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and Tunisia) and the Radical parties such as Syria, Hezbollah, and Palestinian Hamas.  Since when was the dark Wahhabi regime in Saudi Arabia been moderate? How can dictatorial regimes in Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia be considered moderate?

            Lebanon has always been the political barometer of the feud and animosities among the Arab States.  Each major Arab State funds a Lebanese party with the purpose of sending political messages by destabilizing our security and peaceful coexistence.  After the Dawha agreement Lebanon enjoyed a period of “entente” among the political leaders and then it is degrading again as Saudi Arabia and Egypt are trying to force the hands of Syria for taming Hezbollah and Hamas.  

            The allies to the Hariri clan want the Lebanese to believe that the opposition is scare shit of the scarecrow of the International Tribunal that might take 6 years of deliberation if funding is secured and that our bankrupt government is to bare 49% of the expenses, which means never. The majority of the Lebanese have known for many years that the mastermind behind the assassination of Rafic Hariri are the US, France, Saudi Arabia, and Israel.  In fact, these States are among the 10 states that refused to cooperate with the investigation in providing information and intelligence data!

            For the time being, the Lebanese have no public electricity, no ministry for planning and reforms, no productive economy, and no plans to absorb the thousands of expatriate Lebanese who lost their jobs and businesses abroad in this world recession.

Part 5. Persia during the Arab Caliphate Empire (651 to 1500 AC)

The Moslem Arabs, bolstered by a new religious belief, defeated the Byzantium Emperor Heracles in Yarmouk (Syria) and they extended their land to Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Egypt.  Five years later, they defeated the Sassanid army in Qadisya in 636 and totally captured the Persia Empire in 651. 

The vast majority of the Persian elites adopted Islam to safeguard their social positions.

In the first century of the Omayyad Dynasty, with the Capital based in Damascus, the elites, learned people, and intellectuals of the administration were hired from the Near Eastern population (Syria, Lebanon, Palestine).   The Abbasid Dynasty settled in Kufa as capital and then built Baghdad in 762. Slowly but surely, the Persians elites dominated when the Caliphate turned over to the Abbasid Dynasty in 750.  Iraq was dominated by the Persians in population and in skills. The viziers were Persians such as the Baramikas tribe, originating from Khorassan, as well as the key posts in the administration because the Persians were famous for their political acumen. 

The manuscripts and scientific books were written by Persians in the Arabic language, simply because of the richness of scientific vocabulary that the Arabs accumulated by translating Greek manuscripts. For example, we know of Ibn Mukafaa, Ibn Khurdadbeh, Ibn Rusteh, Istakhri, Khawarazmi, Farghani, and Sibawe (the famous grammarian of the Arab language).  Obviously, it was the Persians who needed to learn the Arab grammar and not the bedwins (nomads).

Even though the Persians spoke and wrote in Arabic and were Moslems, they were lumped as Shuubiya or “gentiles”. As the Caliphate authority in Baghdad lost hold on the administration of his Empire then the Arab Empire was divided into fiefdoms of princes under the nominal umbrella of the Caliphate.

In Aleppo (Syria) the Hamadan Dynasty was having skirmishes with Byzantium. In the east, the Samanid dynasty (820 to 1000) reigns in actual Uzbekistan in Central Asia to be replaced by the Ghaznevide Dynasty (998-1186) that occupied most of eastern Iran, Afghanistan and the Punjab in India.

In Egypt,the Fatimid dynasty, with origin in Tunisia, established the first Shiia Moslem sect Empire. In the Caspian region the Bouyide dynasty or Seljuk occupies the plateau of Turkey and then Baghdad in 945.  This new powerful dynasty the Seljuk expanded eastward toward Persia and Central Asia. The Seljuk dynasty fought the Crusaders for two centuries and they started defeating the Crusaders by 1150.  As the multiple Crusaders’ waves to occupy Egypt, which was the main objective to secure commercial routes, failed then there was no purpose left for the European barons to invest more money in further campaigns.

Although most of the dynasties that reigned in Persia were Turks by origins they adopted the Persian language as the official language for the administration and culture. Persian intellectuals started writing in Farisi that adopted the Arabic alphabet.  For example, Ferdowsi, Al Biruni, Ibn Sina (Avicenna), Nasr al Din Tusi, and later Al Kayyam, Atar, Rumi, Saadi, and Hafez have written in Farisi. The main worry of the previous dynasties was to contain the successive waves of invaders coming from the Mongolia and Central Asia steppes.  Finally, Genghis Khan’s hordes swept over the entire Middle East region, destroyed Baghdad in 1258, and brought in the plague cholera. 

A century and a half later, Tamerlane (Timor-i-lenk  or Timor the lame,1330-1405), the “devout” Moslem from current Turkmenistan repeated the same genocides of Genghis Khan and built hundreds of minarets out of heads of decapitated citizens and transferred the artisans and skilled workers from Damascus and the important cities in Persia to his Capital Samarqand

The prosperous city of Isfahan, of over 400,000 inhabitants, suffered 70,000 decapitated civilians; the city of Delhi in India suffered the same kinds of massacre  Tamerlane would not even sleep within the city limit of Samarqand but in tents outside the city.  Tamerlane devastated Moscow and the major cities on the Volga River in his pursuit of the leader of the Golden Horde Toqtamish (a descendant of Genghis Khan). 

This long and devastating incursion against the Tatars facilitated the victory of Ivan the Terrible half a century later and the establishment of a Russian kingdom.  Tamerlane died while on his way to invade China.(To be continued)


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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