Adonis Diaries

Archive for November 6th, 2011

How Israel abused of the Christians during the occupation of one-third of Lebanon (1982-2000)

Part of this post was inspired by the book “A history of Lebanon, 1860-2009” by David Hirst. Hirst is a British veteran journalist who was the correspondent of the British The Guardian for 43 years in the Middle-East: He was kidnapped twice in Lebanon.

In her book “The Amants (lovers) of Zion”, Laura Zittrain Eisenberg, the historian of the Zionist/Maronite relationship, wrote: “A few years before the Balfour Declaration (1917), Russian Zionists contacted the Maronite clergy (Christian sect of Lebanon) and the Zionists leaders were happily surprised to be welcomed warmly. Not only the Maronite clergy wanted the Jews to immigrate to Palestine and Syria (Lebanon was part of Syria), but wished that immigration wave be vast and quick. The Maronites viewed themselves as the Christians of the Orient who are the most westernized in the region and compatible with western civilization.

Consequently, the Maronite clergy, big merchants, and feudal leaders wished to have many more minority religious sects to grow in number in order to counterbalance the vast Moslem population.  They believed that the intellectual and cultural superiority of the Maronite and Jews would compensate for their numerical inferiority. They hoped for fresh investment in industrial equipment, production methods, and western skills to enhance prosperity in the Near-East, where they were the leading business professionals…”

In the early 1920’s, the Maronite people were divided between the isolationist and pro-Zionist groups, and those factions with Pan-Arabic feelings and conviction. The first group selected “Phoenicia” history and civilization as the foundation for a State of Lebanon.

The Zionist movement welcomed any support coming from any corner in the Arab World, on the ground that “Necessity is the driving law”

Journalist British correspondent Robert Fisk wrote a book “Affliction of Nation” and I have been summarizing chapters of the Arabic version.  Fisk covered the civil war in Lebanon for 9 years for the British daily The Times and investigated on the ground.

Fisk wrote “In the winter season of 1981, the Lebanese Forces installed mortar guns on Mount Sannine. (Robert Fisk was among the “Christian” forces, called “The Lebanese Forces” headed by Bashir Gemayel).  I could barely breath from the high altitude and the freezing weather.  The Syrian army got suspicious of Beshir’s purpose, particularly that Bashir boasted publicly of his friendship with Israel.

“Actually, Israel has been unloading military equipment and ammunition in the port of Jounieh for quite a time. What if this side road is being prepared for Israel to use in a preemptive war against Syria?

Syrian tanks fired over these mortar installations.  The militia behaved as frightened adolescent every time a tank fired over them.  The Syrian troops managed to stop finishing constructing this military road.  The Christian militia prevented the Syrians from reaching Faraya snow skiing resort.  The Syrian troops acquired the top of Sannine, while the Christian militia were contented of remaining 50 meters below. Fisk looked over the sand bags and could see the entire Bekaa Valley down below.

This was a totally bungled battle, meant principally for propaganda purpose.  The university graduates in the Christian militia were hardly capable of firing properly the mortar guns.  Fisk wrote: “As we were withdrawing in a hurry, using a German truck (the same kinds imported by the Palestinians in West Beirut), a tire blew up.  We had to scramble on slippery snowy ways for 9 miles toward the hotel Mazar Faraya.  This hotel was transformed into a military garrison.  All the utensils were imported from Israel, as well as the military clothes”. The militias were into the new trend of shalom here, shalom there.” (See note #1)

“As the invasion of Israel to Lebanon in June 1982 progressed, fear and apprehension of Israel military vanished. The might of Israel was not in its soldiers, but in its destructive fire power and air superiority, all of it given for free by the US.

In this invasion, Israel emptied its last shot at scaring its neighboring States:  Israeli soldiers were hunkering down in their bunkers.  An Israeli war analysts wrote: “Illusion was the basis of this preemptive war and its motivation was concealed. This war was doomed to end in catastrophe”

Israel was pressured to withdraw from the Capital Beirut in late 1982, as resistance started and officers were assassinated in broad daylight and in public, but it managed to impose its stooges Bashir Gemayel as President to Lebanon.  Bashir was assassinated two weeks before he takes office. Israel reacted by inviting the “Lebanese Force” militia to enter the Palestinian camps of Sabra and Chatila.

A terrible genocide was carried out for two days and three nights under the watchful eyes of the Israeli army cordoning-off the camps. Actually, Israel lighted the sky, dug mass graves, sent supplies to the criminals, and also brought by helicopters scores of Lebanese/Israeli soldiers from south Lebanon to lead and initiate the slaughter-hood.

Israel occupation forces withdrew to the Chouf district, mostly Druze, and by 1983, Israel suffered over 140 casualties and over 400 injured soldiers in resistance attacks. Israel decided to withdraw further south to the north of the Litany River.  Before it withdrew, Israel invited the Lebanese Forces militia, commanded by Samir Geaja, to occupy the Chouf district on its behalf. The Lebanese Forces militia committed indignities and humiliated the Druze population.  As Israel vacated the premises, the Druze counter reacted and forced the Christian to flee and transfer to the Christian canton. Until now, the Christians failed to return to their home towns and homes.

In 1985, as Israel prepared to relocate and withdraw to newer defensive lines, Israel called upon Samir Geaja, leader of the “Christian Lebanese Forces”, to come to Saida.  Geaja set up his guns in the Christian village of Mieh wa Mieh (overlooking the city of Saida) and shelled the city for an entire day.  The next morning Geaja returned to Beirut (Achrafieh).  A week later, Israel withdrew its troops, and the Christians were forced to vacate their towns and village, never to return.  That was mainly the job of Samir Geaja.

In 2000, Israel was forced to withdraw from Lebanon, without negotiation, preconditions, and unilaterally.The Christian in south Lebanon who supported Israel occupation had to flee to Israel, in order not to succumb to violent reactions.  Thousands of Lebanese are still living precariously in Israel and are waiting for viable Laws to return.

With the exception of the Damour case in 1976, most of Christian transfer calamities were the planning and tactics of Israel occupation forces, executed by small-minded and sectarian Christian leaders.

Note 1:  You may read how Israel contributed in inflaming the civil war before the 1982 incursion

Note 2: You may read as an introduction to this article, the condition of south Lebanon under Israeli occupation

Israel did it again: Capturing Peace flotilla heading to Gaza
As if Gaza is part of the State of Israel! This time around, Israel waited for the “Freedom Waves”  flotilla carrying aid to Gaza to reach “Gaza water” to intervene with four warships and scores of ships carrying soldiers.

Al-Masry Al-Youm English’s managing editor, Lina Attalah, recently took part in the “Freedom Waves”  flotilla. She was captured at sea by Israeli security forces on Friday, along with the rest of the passengers, 27 activists and journalists from around the world. She returned to Egypt safely on Saturday. The two boats, one Irish and one Canadian, were an attempt to draw the world’s attention to the Israeli blockade imposed on Gaza since 2007. This is her account (with slight editing).

“Right before setting sail, I was sitting with Heap in an office at the Fethiye port in Turkey, sending last-minute emails. Amid frantic emailing, I overheard Heap calling his son on Skype and telling him, “I love you, you know that.” I was a little disconcerted. I hadn’t thought to do the same. I asked him, “Do you really think we need to call our folks and tell them we love them before we sail?” He told me, “We have to tell them we love them all the time.” At the time of writing this article, he and Lotayef were still detained in Israel.

“Friday morning. Inside the Tahrir boat heading to Gaza, everyone sat opposite computer screens, updating the world about our trip.  David Heap, one of the boat’s organizers, made a grand entrance to our make-shift media center.

“50! We’re 50 miles away from Gaza,” he screamed to applause.

The previous night, we were expecting Israeli intervention any time. Israel has a record of attacking solidarity boats in international waters as far as 100 nautical miles off Gaza’s shore. We woke up to a sunny day and found that our communications system was working. We thought that arrival to Gaza was imminent. Activists on board spent the first half of the day decorating the boat with pro-Gaza flags, signs and artwork.

The enthusiasm didn’t eliminate our expectation of Israeli intervention. Activists were working on English and Hebrew signs reading “this is piracy” and “this is kidnapping,” in anticipation of a possible attack in international waters.

Towards the early afternoon, we saw three Israeli warships in the horizon. We knew that the moment had come.  At that point, some activists and journalists on board started throwing equipment into the sea, fearing that the information stored on their technology could be used by our potential captors to implicate other activists who were not on the boat.

Israeli presence in the waters around us intensified. We counted at least 15 ships, four of which were warships, and the rest a mix of smaller boats and water cannons. From inside the smaller boats, dozens of Israeli soldiers pointed their machines guns at us. This is when our communications system was jammed and we lost contact with the world.

Our boat’s captain, George Klontzas, started receiving radio messages from the Israeli navy, asking about the organizers and the destination of the trip. Ehab Lotayef communicated with the Israeli navy, telling them that our destination was Gaza and that any attempt to arrest us would be illegal. When the navy repeated over the radio, “Tahrir, what is your final destination?” The poet Lotayef responded, “the betterment of mankind.”

As Israeli naval vessels loomed around our boat, the Israelis made a proposition that they would send one person to inspect for weapons, and if he found nothing, they would let us pass. The proposition was met with skepticism among the activists, although some thought this could really be a way to get to Gaza. The Irish boat, which was sailing with us, staunchly refused the proposition.

As the Israeli ships closed in on us, we found the Irish boat heading into our direction and hitting our boat so aggressively that they damaged their entry point. We speculated that this could be a form of resistance to the forced Israeli boarding, but we couldn’t communicate with them to find out.

At this point, the Israelis had withdrawn their proposition and sent radio messages to our boat, asking us to stop sailing because they would board the boat and take us to the Israeli port of Ashdod.

As our boat refused to surrender, they aimed their canons at us, showering us with salty water. This came a few minutes after Heap had warned us, “get ready for a shower.” The radio warnings from the Israeli navy continued, asking the boat’s members to remove the net surrounding the boat, which we had put in place as a form of protection.

The boat had become highly unstable and panic was in the air. But a beautiful rainbow in the sky caught our attention, and, in what was a surreal moment, we started capturing it with our cameras.

We were outmaneuvered. Israeli ships hit our boat and Israeli soldiers started boarding. Dozens of masked soldiers screamed “on your knees,” and “hands up.” One soldier filmed the whole process.

At the same time, a group of soldiers invaded the boat’s lower level, where we had set up our media center. I don’t remember at what point an Israeli flag was flown from the boat.

After some initial checks, we also found ourselves below deck, where we were seated one next to the other. We learned that the boat was already being steered towards Ashdod. When one of the soldiers asked if we needed anything, Lotayef and Heap said “we need our boat back.” They were ignored.

We were then allowed to go one by one to collect our luggage from the ship’s hold. I found no computers or any other electronics left, and our luggage was dumped in piles, with soldiers lying on the floor in what became a mess. That same area had been our temporary home for the past four days as we worked, ate and slept there. The scene of a dismantled home was quite disturbing.

We reached Ashdod within two hours. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see what became of the other passengers because I was called out first. We exchanged painful gazes at each other as I was taken out, wondering when and where next we would meet next.

On the way out of the boat, I was showered with flashes as Israeli soldiers took pictures. The place we were taken to at Ashdod is a featureless detention facility for “illegal migrants.” I was strip-searched and had my flip cam, personal diary, USB stick, mobile phone and voice recorder confiscated. My computer and camera had already been taken by the soldiers on the boat. I tried to negotiate to get my things back – or at least to recuperate my personal diary, where I had compiled minute details of the trip – but failed. I did manage to keep two books they wanted to confiscate.

My thoughts were with the boat’s activists, who pledged to peacefully resist being taken out of the boat. They agreed that they would only leave the boat by being forcibly dragged. As I was searched, I heard Heap screaming inside the facility. “Ehab, can you hear me?,” “Majd, can you hear me?,” “Kit, can you hear me?,” “Karen, can you hear me?,” “Michael, can you hear me?” The calls echoed in the large detention facility, piercing through its noisy corridors. But I heard no responses from fellow activists.

I was interrogated by police officers for 30 minutes and my finger prints and photo were taken. During the interrogation, I was asked about my professional history, the different organizations I worked for and how I knew Freedom Waves, our flotilla to Gaza, and the activists involved. As I was facing the police officer, I saw the reflection of George Klontzas, the boat’s captain, in the mirror. His legs were cloaked in metal chain.

“Are you aware that you were heading into a closed military zone?” the police officer asked. I said yes. When he asked why I did that, I told him I was covering an activists’ quest to challenge the Gaza blockade. He smiled and let me go.

I was driven by two diplomats from the Egyptian Embassy to the Taba border crossing and crossed over to Egypt, quite smoothly and unharmed. At the time of writing this article, he and Lotayef were still detained in Israel.

One of the two books that escaped confiscation was “Mediterranean Crossings” by Iain Chambers. As the soldier removed my bookmark, I naively rushed to mark the page by folding it. “The Mediterranean becomes a site for an experiment to a different form of history,” read some of Chambers’ words on that page. Perhaps the line describes the act of appropriating international waters in a quest to change the status quo.

What are driving this gap in test scores among races and minorities…?

There are so many variables that come into play to explaining this sustained gap in primary school test scores among students.  There are gaps in test scores in primary schools that are different from the ones in high school, and university score performances. The first part will focus on differences in primary and preschool test scores.

Several longitudinal surveys (following kids performance over several years), accompanied with details on the kid, the parents (biological and adoptive), quality of life, environmental conditions…, and the program of Chicago Public school system where students are allocated to the various public schools according to a lottery procedure (pretty much similar to the one when the military forced citizens to join the army during the Viet Nam war), shed strong light to the reasons behind the discrepancies in test scores.

Let us consider two sets of factors: set A and set B.  The first “set A” are variables representing or describing things that parents “are”:  for example, how parents evolved, grew-up, learned, experimented with life…before they got married and decided to have kids.  Set B are the variables that describe things that parents “do”: For example, what they did after the kid was born according to their model of “what is the best method or behavior to raising a child…”

The “Set A” factors are:

A1. Highly educated parents

A2. High socioeconomic status of parents

A3. First child is of mothers about 30 year-old

A.4 Parents speak English at home (for countries where English is the national language…)

A5. Child is adopted

A6. Parents are involved in PTA program (share in school activities and management…)

A7. House is stuffed with books

A8. Child has low birth-weight

Set B consists of the variables:

B1. Family is intact (no divorces, single family parent…)

B2. Parents recently moved into a better neighborhood…

B3. Mother didn’t work between giving birth and kindergarten (no economic unit productive…)

B4. Child attended Head Start program (for the deficient children…)

B5. Parents take the child to museum, zoo…

B6. Child is regularly spanked

B7. Child watches TV frequently

B8. Parents read to child almost every day, sort of “Goodnight Moon” stuff…

What the analyses of data by regression, comparing two variables in a subgroup that share the same characteristics but the two factors, showed that:

First, in primary test scores, the parenting processes of set B of factors had NO effect, one way or another in the performance of scores. It looks as if the “obsessed parents and parenting” do not matter in how the kid will perform in primary and preschool levels.

Second, the factors in set A can offer preliminary explanation for the gap.  For example, the trends are highly positively correlated, except for low birth-weight which is negatively correlated.

Third, apparently, at his early age, the kid is dominated by his genes advantages: Genes alone might be responsible for 50% of a child’s personality and abilities. It is after the early upbringing with sustained positive “nurturing” of parents that makes the big difference in high-school and university performance and future success.

That is what Bruce Sacerdote demonstrated in his paper “The Nature and Nurture of economic outcomes”. Sacerdote analyzed 3 adoption studies, two in the US and one in England, with detailed in-depth data on the adoptive kids, adoptive parents, and biological parents.

With sustained nurturing parenting, the IQ genetic advantage cede importance to behavioral maintenance… The next article will approach the question: “Why this gap…and what is meant by nurturing parents”

Note 1: Regression analysis is one particular statistical method for showing correlation in trends between two variables.  Analyses of huge data-bases, by manipulating data in several perspectives, can be very valuable in generating profitable ideas and hypotheses for further controlled experiments in order to research cause and effect relationship.

Note 2: Post was inspired from a chapter in “Freakonomics” by Steven Levitt

What drive panic attacks: Imminent possibility and out of control situations?

Fear is a most potent emotion that people intentionally capitalize on it to satisfy their objectives and purposes.  Fear is a combination of perceived high risks and level of current public outrage.  In general, as public outrage is fresh for a perceived imminent hazard, disseminated by interested institutions or “experts”, the higher this outrage the more powerful the emotions to overrun whatever is the actual real seriousness of the risk.

Suppose you are told that you have 5% chance of dying within an hour, or 40% chance within a year, which probability will drive your frenzied panic? If we try to recollect the dozens of situations that had the potential to kill us every day, we should be convinced that Russian roulette probability of one in six is a great advantage to the probabilities for our survival every single day. Most probably, we are panicked with the presence of the physician who divulged his expert opinion of our very soon death. The moment the physician is out of sight, things go back to normal, I think…If a God can guarantee that you will survive the day if your Russian roulette exercise is successful, you might live to be a thousand, at least, or you might not…

Suppose you know for fact that experiencing a plane problem (when flying…) is far less frequent than witnessing a problem when driving your car.  You know that you are Not a car mechanics, and even if you are you’ll not check your car every-time to get behind the wheel: Airplanes would not, or should not fly, before expert professional mechanics thoroughly check it.  What you refuse to remember is that chances of dying from a plane crash is far less frequent than driving your car, per year.  Yes, I extending your life year by year, instead of day by day…  Which means of transportation would you choose for the same driving duration and cost?

Actually, per-hour death rate is about Equal. So, if you don’t get out of your home frequently, and the airport is close to home, and you own your private jet…you might as well toss a coin?  People opt to drive their cars, even if they can afford airplanes, on the assumption that they have “total control over their cars…”  What control do you have over your car if you tend to fail checking the car before driving? What control you have over the other drivers…?

There are 40,000 car deaths per year compared to 1,000 by airplane. This fact is related to many more people driving longer hours their cars than boarding airplanes…

Suppose that you know (from available data-bases, see note 1) that kids younger than 10 year-old drown in private swimming pools is far greater frequency than kids visiting homes retaining a gun for “eventual protection cases…”, would you still prefer to send your kid to families having a swimming pool and not having a gun?

A kid drown in a private swimming pool out of 11,000, and the US has 6 million such private swimming pool.  A kid is shot out of one million homes carrying a gun, out of over 200 million such “well protected” homes.

Suppose you know the private swimming pool that your kid visits satisfies all the regulations of fenced pool, locked back door…would you still send your kid without a personal watchful adult, whom you have total confidence that he will keep an eye every second, and he is licensed as swimming guard…?

Suppose that you finally realized that catching a terrible disease from food in your kitchen is far more frequent than rare cases of mad-cow prions, would you still get that outraged on the imminent danger of a mad-cow disease?

As Peter Sandman said: “Risks that you think have control over are much less a source of outrage than risks that are out of your control.  The basic reality is that the risks that scare people (to death) and the risks that actually kill people are very different…”

Experts on risks and dangers are not making things any easier on concerned citizens: It is in their advantage to encourage emotional outrage in the public in order to get higher visibility and recognition, instead of analyzing the problem from various perspectives…

Obsessive parents invest plenty of money for securing against risks that are virtually barely dangerous or frequent per year and in the USA, such as ten kids dying from flame-retardant pajamas, fewer than 5 for keeping children away from car airbags, two for safety drawstring on children’s clothing…

Parents worry too much and refuse to let go, as if a child could not die a hundred times a day for one thing or another.  But parents think that they have the entire responsibility over their shoulders for the most “precious thing” they decided to raise and keep with their own volition…

Note 1: There are plenty of data-bases for almost any kind of research you might want to undertake.  The hitch is that you cannot extract cause and effect relationship from data not done under experimental control.  You may still torture the data until data divulge the mystery behind the story, kind of discovering correlations and how the trend is progressing.  You can find troves of useful and valid hypotheses to experiment on and demonstrate cause and effect…Read my posts in the category “Human Factors in Engineering”

Note 2: Post inspired from a portion of a chapter in “Freakonomics” by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner




November 2011

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