Adonis Diaries

Archive for May 16th, 2009

Background to the Near East Dilemma; (Part 1, May 16, 2009)

Note:  This essay is of two parts.  The first part lay down the background story and issues; the second part will explain in details the positions of the various Syrian political parties and intelligentsia of the period during and after the First World War.

The year 1919 was critical for the Near East (Levant) and the entire Arab World.

At the time, Syrian was the name of the populations comprising the current States of Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and current Jordan.

Before that date, the Syrians were called Turks because they held a Turkish (Ottoman) passport.

After almost a century, the people in this region are reaping the consequences of the resolutions of the League of Nations that met in Paris for many months to divide the spoils of the First World War.

Jean Dayeh is an author and a veteran journalist investigative reporter; he published recently “Jubran Tueny Sr. and the Century of Renaissance” in the Near East.  The manuscript contains two great chapters on the case of the Syrian dilemma and the Palestinian/Zionism problems.

From old published articles and replies by different daily journalists, thinkers, and politicians Dayeh explained the premises for the confusion and disunity in the Syrian societies of Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, and the current Syrian State; the ideological and political divergences prevented an alternative resolution for populations that were just getting out of the hegemony of the Ottoman Empire that lasted over 5 centuries.

During the war, the British encouraged the Shereef of Mecca Hussein al Hashemy to join the allies for fighting against the Ottoman Empire.  The British promised Hussein of Mecca mandate over Syria and Iraq.  In the same time, Britain and France had a more real politics plan for the Near East.  The diplomats of the two nations Sykes and Pico agreed in 1916 to divide the region so that France would have mandate over Syria and Lebanon and Britain mandate over Iraq, Palestine and Jordan.  Britain Foreign Affairs Balfour had promised the Zionist movement a State in Palestine.

The sons of Hussein were appointed Kings; Faisal on Syria and Abdullah King on the newly created State of Jordan by Britain.  “King” Faisal entered Damascus as the Turkish army withdrew.  A nucleus of a new Syrian army was formed; the soldiers had to swear allegiance to the King of Mecca and agree to fight in the Arabic Peninsula if duty called.

The flag of Mecca was raised in Damascus and postal stamps and coins left no doubt as to the plans of the King of Mecca to joining Syria in an Arab Nation.  The worst part is that Faisal had promised the Zionist movement during the meetings of the League of Nations in Paris that if the Jews become majority in Palestine then they could form a confederate State with the Arab Nation.

It is to be noted that the concept of waging war, then and now, that only those parties or nations that effectively participated in the war were eligible to divide the spoil.  The Syrian population did not have an army to fight and they were suffering famine and calamities due to locust invasion and the perpetual requisitions of the Turkish army in foodstuff and coerced soldiers.

President Woodrow Wilson of the USA was suffering of critical health problems during the Paris Convention and died shortly after; thus France and England decided on the Middle East spoil.  Nevertheless, the USA sent a fact-finding commission King-Crane to comprehend the wishes and desires of the Syrian populations.

England and France declined to join the commission because they had already decided on the spoil and their armies were on the ground in the Near East and pressured the populations to be biased.  With all the political pressures of France and England, a few Christians in Mount Lebanon preferred a French mandate, a few Palestinians opted for a British mandate, many were in favor of a USA mandate but the vast majority of Moslems and Christians wanted an independent State with Faisal as King in Damascus.

The Christian Maronite Patriarch Howayek hurried to Paris for the convention and harassed Clemenceau to decide on a Greater Lebanon by adjoining many parts to Mount Lebanon in return for a French mandate. Clemenceau dispatched an army in 1920 and defeated the small Syrian army in Mayssaloun.  King Faisal was sent packing to reign as King in Iraq.

By 1920, the Zionist movement managed to lure a few Jews to establish agricultural colonies.  Tel Aviv was the main coastal colony.  The Jewish Diaspora had felt the impossibility of establishing a Jewish state and money was trickling.  The Jews in Tel Aviv went on a rampage and confiscate the Zionist money in order to buy food; and the Rothschild delegate in Palestine was ordered to stop payment on land purchased for new colonies.

Nevertheless, the Zionist movement refused hopeless Jews visa exit out of Palestine.  The Palestinian government, under British mandate, had permitted to add Hebrew names to the English and Arabic administrative institutions. Things have changed since then.

Are you Normal? (May 15, 2009)


            Paulo Coelho published a new book “The Solitude of the Victor” (La Solitude du Vainqueur).  It is supposed to be another novel, this time around with a story, and a gory one to boot.  Coelho cannot help it: you start the novel and you have to deal right away with another list of prescriptions.  The list is of 43 ways to act normal; I will reduce the list to the most cynical of characteristics:


1)      What is normal is to forget who we are so that we may focus on productivity and generating money.

2)      Setting rules and regulations for waging wars (The Geneva Convention)

3)      Investing the best period of your life on diploma that is not marketable in the work place.

4)      Working from 8 to 5 with no pleasure for our retreat compensation (that does not materialize eventually)

5)      Taking our hard earned retreat and no where to go for our diminishing supply of energy and dreams.

6)      Assimilating the dictum that power is more important than money; that money is far more important than happiness.

7)      Understanding that a “non ambitious person” is necessarily the one who cannot make money.

8)      Believing in what is printed.

9)      Despise what is earned the easiest way without the “necessary sacrifices”

10)    Follow the mode

11)    Invest mostly on the exterior beauty

12)    Faking to be normal but implicitly believing that we are far superior than most people

13)    Controlling extreme expressions in laughter or emotions.

14)    As we grow older believing that we have acquired the necessary wisdom.

15)    Patronize charity events and believing that we shared in our responsibility for a fairer world.

16)    Eating three times a day even if we are not that hungry

17)    Believing that others are more beautiful, more intelligent, and more capable.

18)    Never venture beyond what we think is our limited capacity.

19)    Always claiming that “I did my best”.

20)    Avoiding depression by watching more TV.

21)    Thinking that women don’t like footballs or boxing; that men don’t like decoration or cooking.

  Thinking that lack of courteous manners and polite gestures are sure sign of strong manhood.

Bureaucratic Ethnicities (May 14, 2009)


The western nations are not helping out immigrants to overcome their ethnicities that they want to forget about and start a new life.  For some weird reasons, not necessarily out to complete ignorance of foreign cultures, bureaucracies in the developed “welcoming nations” of immigrants insist on gathering data with options that are incorrect, confusing, and utterly humiliating to cultured immigrants. 

For example, what is the use of forcing immigrants in selecting their ethnicities according to the color of their skins (white, yellow, or black) or combining continents such as Africa, Asia, Europe, Middle East, or others?  For some ridiculous reasons bureaucratic data sheets are shy asking outright for religious affiliations as if this information, which is essentially the most important piece of data that “covert apartheid” are interested in,  is not very important to immigrants.

If you were filling such ridiculous data sheets and do not find the proper slot that is appropriate and convenient to your supposed “identity” then either you leave the slot blank or you insert another slot that does not represent your identity.  In both cases the computer is not happy, data gatherers are not happy, and the whole data sheet is cancelled and the State data center ends up with truncated data or wrong.

My contention is, if the citizens of the “welcoming” nations ,don’t care about their ethnicity or identity then why force redundant issues for immigrants that welcome friendly integration processes?  If the goal is to understand cultural differences then why not focus on the language, religion, and the regions of semi-closed seas and vast lakes  that these immigrants came from?

There are coherence in culture among people living around vast lakes or semi-closed seas such as the Caspian Sea, the Black Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea, the Adriatic Sea, the Great Lakes bordering the USA and Canada, the Tanganyika Lake, Victoria Lake and so on.  It is also feasible to adding semi-arid deserts such as part of the Sahara Desert, the Northern and Southern Arabic Peninsula Desert, the Goby Desert, and deserts in India, China, Russia, and so on.  Why not include the equatorial forests in Brazil, Africa, and South Asia?  These kinds of classifications are far more informative than recognized States by the UN with unnatural borders constantly being disputed and fighting for fictitious adjustment.

If the interested party such as local communities and districts want accurate data then why not communicate with the immigrant communities for feedback in designing and evaluating the relevance of the questions and options?  Would it not be of far greater utility if the targeted immigrants are told the practical and real purpose of data collections? Would not community sharing in devising and designing data sheets be a great learning experience for both the community and the immigrants as to the importance of data and how to use them?  Would it not be of great importance if immigrants are shown how the gathered information is statistically analyzed and the many pitfalls in interpreting statistical results? 

We are all in the same boat because the data gathering specialists and interpreters of results are not of much use if they have not interrelated with their target audience before the project is undertaken.  Good end results are consensual acceptance of a project that need not be ideal but functional and cooperative.  Can we experiment with projects on the premise that immigrants are as intelligent, logical, and sane normal people as those initiating one lopsided projects and very much biased and most of the time irrelevant?

May be a few citizens in the “welcoming” nations appreciate the habit of daily filling data coupons and forms for one thing or another; I am pretty sure that the vast majority of citizens abhor these practices.  Then why force upon the immigrants tons of additional forms to fill?  Would not that be a covert tactic to humiliating and cowing immigrants into a state of fictitious owe to the greatness of a nation that adores bureaucracy in any shape and form?

Only the weakest of politicians drum up the race and identity problems to attrack their bored citizens with clean sweep slate of blank brains.  Those weak politicians have no ideas what to offer the citizens or what the citizens want and need.  Thus, they borrow a few cliché verses from the only Book they were forced to read in their childhood at Sunday schools and starts shouting louder than the street corner’s “preacher”; and they expect the audience to clap the hardest they ever enjoyed a rock concert.




May 2009

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