Adonis Diaries

Archive for November 2nd, 2013

Back Riding Adventure on a motorcycle from Beirut to Kuneitra in Cornet Chehwan  November 2, 2013

My nephew Cedric bought 10 tickets to listen to opera singer Mona Hallab (a relative of the famous sweet makers Hallab of Tripoli) , in the auditorium of the Russian cultural center in Verdun, Beirut. The event was deep underground, kind of 4 floors under.

I got a lift with Victor and Raymonde.

Cedric understands and translate Italian fluently, but when it comes to opera, he could only translate the finale of one of the lyrics that says “Who gives a fuck

After the recital  of 10 stanza from various Verdi composition, Cedric wanted for his parents to pay a visit to his office in Hamra. Hanane had led us to the center and left us to use Cedric office for a project.

I decided to ride behind Cedric on his new Italian motorbike, two close wheels in the front and one in the back.

Cedric regulated the suspensions for two riders and I donned an oversized helmet. Tightening the helmet was of no use: It plainly floated on my head, bouncing freely down and up, and side to side…

Cedric suggested that I don’t turn my heads sideways or try to be too curious about the scenery and crowd, on account that the turning of my head will spin the bike off balance at turning bends

Sort I have to fix my eyes to a point far away, as if meditating looking at the flame of a candle…

The ride to Hamra was short, but it left as this lingering feeling that the longer ride to Kunetra (about 15 miles away ) is not going to be fun at all.

However, I was curious how it feels for the longer rides: William had back rode for over two hours to Tannourine, and Victor did it once from Beirut.

I figured that if Victor could sustain this Calvary, I should be able to experience it without undue long-term physical problems.

The short ride to Hamra uncovered the 3 main troubles that I will be subjugated to:

1. Neck pain from the oversized helmet: I had this sense that the helmet will not protect my head if we had an accident or fall from the bike. Most probably the helmet will detach before I reach the ground, or this helmet will decapitate me instead of protecting my head.

2. Lower back pain from the multiple bumpers (motabaat) and the bad road of many holes and ditches…  In Lebanon, the 0.3% of the richest who horde 50% of the wealth, think its prestige to have many bumpers in front of their residences. If everyone of these bastards have over two dozen residences, just imagine the numbers of bumpers the motorbike has to surmount, and my body frame to suffer from.  Actually, it is again the helmet that exacerbated the back problems…

3. Constantly holding tightly on the side guards was tantamount of numbing my arm and shoulder muscles: You think that you are holding on something, but in reality it is a faked sensation.  The other problem was the leg muscles…

Cedric said that William had it hard because he rode without a backrest. Cedric had since invested on an additional space for an extra helmet which played the role of a back rest.  I don’t recall having rested my back at any moment: Otherwise I would have fallen down at the bends as Cedric was flying at 80 km per hour

It turned out that the worst of problems is the nasty wind, flowing at high speed from under the helmet shield. This is no shield whatsoever: It is a dangerous semi-shield that exacerbate the flow of the wind and burn your face skin, instead of massaging the muscles of your face.

I had to keep my mouth shut most of the time, tightening my mandibles on the ground that air will still seep through the crevices of my teeth… I figured that the air will reach my lungs on account of this fast wind cooled my ass.

I was apprehensive that we might navigate a dirty stretch with plenty of pebbles and ending up looking like I had suffered from smallpox in my childhood… Actually I did have small pox but no residue remained. This time around, a poked face could turn more enduring…

I was wearing a formal jacket for the concert and just a shirt. I didn’t pay much attention of freezing all over, but I felt the cold spreading all over my body as we reached destination.

Basta, no more back riding on motorbikes for over 2 miles distance.

Note: Monà Hallab soprano in concert “Tribute to Verdi”,  accompanied by pianist Olga Bolun.  Mona was born in Tripoli Lebanon and is currently living in Umbria Italy.  She is studying for her masters in opera from “Istituto Superiore di Studi Musicali G. Briccialdi”

She sang from texts of Wolfgang Goethe, Jacopo Vittorelli, Carlo Angiolini, La Traviata, Tommaso Bianchi, Luigi Balestra, Il Trovatore, and Andrea Maffei.
Badeeh Abla's photo.

Aborted State? The UN Initiative and New Palestinian Junctures..

Jadaliyya Interview Noura Erakat and Mouin Rabbani on this new Book “Aborted State? The UN Initiative and New Palestinian Junctures”

Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book?

Noura Erakat and Mouin Rabbani (NE & MR): The book represents a compilation of articles and documents published by Jadaliyya during the Palestinian bid for statehood at the United Nations in 2011-2012.

We felt this moment represents—for better or worse—a critical juncture in Palestinian history and the Palestinian struggle for self-determination, deserving of proper analysis and contextualization.

It will either mark the moment at which Palestinians began to definitively disengage from the Oslo framework that has dominated their world for the past two decades and must, alongside the 1948 Nakba, be seen as the most catastrophic development in contemporary Palestinian history.

Alternatively, it forms another attempt by a leadership lacking in strategic vision, tactical acumen, and political dynamism, to revive Oslo yet again.

As such, it marks the last hurrah of the Palestinian national movement as we have known it since the 1950s. Thus far, the latter interpretation certainly seems the more sensible.

[Cover of

[Cover of “Aborted State? The UN Initiative and New Palestinian Junctures”] Listen to this page using ReadSpeaker

Nevertheless, these things also have the potential to take on a life of their own, driving their sponsors in directions they have not anticipated or may not want, and even marginalizing or consuming them in the process.

Despite the resumption of bilateral negotiations, the potential to shift away from the Oslo framework remains viable precisely because the options created by the statehood bid remain available. But in view of the present Palestinian leadership’s regional and international alliances, vested interests, and economic constraints, this is highly unlikely.

Regardless of outcome, the broader point is that one way or another, this represents a critical moment that deserves analysis and reflection beyond mere reporting of actual events.

J: What particular topics, issues, and literatures does it address?

NE & MR: The book is divided into 4 sections that examine what we believe to be the main themes highlighted by the statehood bid.

1. “National Liberation Strategies examines the bid from the point of view of a viable Palestinian national strategy, and the lack thereof.

2. “International Law and Statehood analyzes the proper role of international law, if any, in achieving Palestinian self-determination in light of legal strategies used by other colonized peoples, together with the new realities that exist on the ground.

3.  “US Foreign Policy” concerns the elephant in every room and china shop, and addresses the crucial role of the United States as what objectively can only be characterized as a direct participant in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A final section entitled

4.  Representation focuses on the broader issue of the crisis of representation that Palestinians have been experiencing for at least the past two decades, and how the statehood bid ameliorates and intensifies it in various ways.

The contributions to this volume represent points of view that are both critically for and against the UN initiative.

Still, they are written from a common perspective seeking to promote Palestinian self-determination. The book does not provide equal space to those who support Palestinian rights and those who do not think they should have any.

Since the majority of essays were written around the time of the initial 2011 Palestinian application to the United Nations, a number of additional contributions look at this question one year later. We have also included key documents, among them the speeches of Mahmoud Abbas, Binyamin Netanyahu, and Barack Obama to the UN General Assembly in September 2011.

J: How does this work connect to and/or depart from your previous research and writing?

NE & MR: We have both been involved in research and advocacy for Palestinian self-determination throughout most of our lives, and in this respect this volume fits right in.

Both of us also believe that a more intensive exchange of views and perspectives on the key issues addressed in this collection are essential and indeed a pre-requisite for the reconstruction of the Palestinian national movement and the development of a coherent and effective national strategy.

The contents reflect and contribute to broader conversations on the Palestinian question as well as internal ones amongst Palestinians themselves. On this score as well, this volume contributes to our earlier and existing work.

J: Who do you hope will read this book, and what sort of impact would you like it to have?

NE & MR: The book is intended both for a general audience that would like to enhance its understanding of how supporters of Palestinian self-determination view the UN initiative. Why was there not unanimous support amongst Palestinians?

Why did legal scholars disagree about its implications for the rights of refugees?

What was the Palestinian leadership thinking and did it have a Plan B?

The anthology aims to answer those questions, making it a good fit within both graduate and undergraduate university classes, as well as beyond, among a general readership.

This book is also intended for people who have been part of the debates addressed in this collection of essays and would like to explore these various perspectives in greater depth.

It therefore should also benefit long-time advocates, writers, and scholars who are similarly concerned about the political impasse that has faced Palestinians globally since at least the onset of the Oslo accords.

J: What other projects are you working on now?

NE: I am working on a couple of pieces of legal scholarship, as well as an essay on international law and the Palestinian question. My current legal scholarship explores the impact of the Obama administration’s policy of targeted killings upon the international law and self-defense.

Another piece examines the impact of overlapping refugee legal regimes in the Middle East on Palestinian refugees during secondary forced displacement, as is now the case in Syria. The essay regarding the Palestinian question attempts to unpack whether international law has been part of the problem, or the solution, or neither, in response to Israel’s settler-colonial project.

MR: I am writing a book with Norman Finkelstein that examines how the internationalization of the “Question of Palestine” can contribute to achieving Palestinian self-determination and peace in the Middle East, in accordance with international law and the international consensus on the relevant questions.

Excerpt from Aborted State? The UN Initiative and New Palestinian Junctures

From the Foreword, by Richard Falk

Ever since the collapse of European colonialism, the side in a conflict that controls this moral and legal high ground has generally, although not invariably, prevailed over an opponent with hard power superiority.

Palestinian reliance on non-violence has recently been dramatized by an extraordinary series of lengthy hunger strikes by Palestinians incarcerated in Israeli prisons without charge or trial. These have in duration surpassed those of IRA prisoners in 1982, which eventually led London to change its approach to the IRA. This shift enabled negotiation of the Good Friday Agreement. While not perfect, the Agreement has led to a generally peaceful process of conflict resolution in Northern Ireland, replacing what had been previously regarded as a struggle without a foreseeable end.

It is in this regard most unfortunate that the world media has looked the other way during the Palestinian prisoner strikes, and done so despite years of lecturing the Palestinians that if they adopted non-violent tactics their cause would experience an immediate upsurge of sympathetic attention.

Today, most Palestinians are not only disillusioned with the United Nations and international law, but also with their own leadership. The Palestinian leadership works within established inter-governmental channels of traditional diplomacy augmented with awkward periodic shows of deference to American political priorities.

Each episode in the Peace Process constructed on the basis of the Oslo Declaration of Principles has ended in frustration for the Palestinians, and is coupled with mutual recriminations that assign blame for the failure, with the Palestinian side represented in the media as mainly responsible for the disappointment and Israel lauded for its supposed generosity.

What often follows is a perverse reaffirmation of the confidence of both sides that “the process” forms the only viable option for a peaceful settlement, which has led to a cycle of raised and shattered expectations associated with the resumption of direct negotiations.

It is here that bewilderment merges with disillusionment. Why give credibility to a structure of negotiation that is so deeply flawed? Can any sane person expect such a negotiation to lead to a just outcome when the intermediary is both the most powerful political actor on the global stage and an explicitly unconditional partisan of the stronger side?

The unintentionally candid Dennis Ross in his diplomatic memoir tells it all when he indicates that the central question that tormented him throughout the 2000 Camp David negotiations was “Will the Israelis swallow this?” He never asks, or even considers, the relevance of the complementary issue, “will the Palestinians swallow this?” Or rather, “can, should the Palestinians swallow this?”

This double standard is so revealing because it discloses the unconscious depths of the American approach: defer to Israeli sovereign consent while providing the Palestinians with a single alternative:  accept what is on offer.

In his long book, Ross never pauses to reflect on how odd it should seem for an “honest broker” to consider the responses of only on one side to the conflict. This last observation brings us back to the statehood bid.

In one respect, as has been ably argued by John Quigley in his The Statehood of Palestine, Palestine is already a state. It has garnered  over a hundred diplomatic recognitions by governments since the 1988 PLO Declaration of Independence, and subsequently established a governmental presence within relatively fixed boundaries.

Of course, this PLO proposed resolution of the conflict was the most gigantic territorial concession made by either side since the end of World War II, seemingly accepting a Palestinian state limited to the territories occupied in 1967. These territories constitute only 22% of historic Palestine and form less than half the territory allotted to an Arab state pursuant to the partition of Palestine proposed by the United Nations in General Assembly Resolution 181 (1947).

This partition was rejected at the time as unfair by the Palestinians and the Arab states. With hindsight, it should not be surprising that Israel has offered the Palestinians nothing in response to acknowledge the significance of their willingness to normalize relations with Israel on a basis that evinced a clear intention to resolve the conflict.

Despite this background to the statehood bid of 2011 and 2012, it is correct to appreciate that United Nations certification of Palestinian statehood gives the claim considerable additional political weight. The American effort to defer indefinitely the Palestinian Authority’s 2011 bid for United Nations membership bears on whether an acknowledgement of statehood without membership is a step forward for the Palestinian people. It becomes questionable whether General Assembly recognition of Palestine as a state entitled the enhanced observer status is of sufficient practical benefit to offset the earlier, more fundamental UN rebuff by the Security Council.

[Excerpted from Aborted State? The UN Initiative and New Palestinian Junctures, by Noura Erakat and Mouin Rabbani, by permission of the authors. Copyright © 2013 Tadween Publishing. For more information, or to order a copy of the book, click here.]

Noura Erakat and Mouin Rabbani, editors, Aborted State? The UN Initiative and New Palestinian Junctures. Washington, DC: Tadween Publishing, 2013.

New Texts Out Now: Nelida Fuccaro, Histories of Oil and Urban Modernity in the Middle East [Cover of Elizabeth F. Thompson, New Texts Out Now: Elizabeth Thompson, Justice Interrupted: The Struggle for Constitutional Government in the Middle East

How to take care of your back and proper positions…

To stand straight? What that means?

Few people knows how to stand properly, even when they want it.

Just keep the natural curbs of your body?

And your buttocks away from your head, not on a straight vertical line? 

Basically, stretch what is down downward and the upper parts upward, reversing the gravity effects to strengthen the deeper muscles

I am learning to stretch my neck upward, chin heading upward, and working on the muscles of my sphincter, in and out..

Mankind is not constituted to sit down for long period: Got to get up and walk, now and then, every 45 minutes

This is a repost in French.

Alors pourquoi ne pas s’y mettre aujourd’hui ?

, Kinésithérapeute, posted on the Huffpost this Oct. 17, 2013:

La base du problème : comprendre comment se tenir droit !

Se tenir droit, pour un kiné, ça signifie “s’auto-grandir”. Il ne faut surtout pas chercher à avoir le dos tout plat mais simplement à se redresser, tout en gardant ses courbures naturelles :

  • Votre colonne vertébrale est composée de vertèbres : lombaires en bas (le bas du dos), dorsales au milieu (le dos) et cervicales en haut (le cou). La colonne vertébrale possède 3 courbures : – creusée (lordose) en lombaire (et pas plat, contrairement à ce que beaucoup croient encore : nous sommes naturellement cambré !) ; – arrondie (cyphose) en dorsal ; – creusée en cervical.
  • Tout en bas de la colonne vertébrale se situent le Sacrum puis le Coccyx (au milieu des fesses). Tout en haut, on trouve le Crâne.
  • Se tenir droit, c’est tout simplement garder le Sacrum loin du Crâne. En d’autres mots, vos fesses doivent rester loin de votre tête !

Le fond du problème : comment faire pour se tenir droit ?!

  • Voici “LA” technique pour se tenir droit, simple à comprendre et efficace ! Asseyez-vous et appliquez ! (c’est souvent assis que l’on ne se tient pas droit)
  • Au niveau des fesses : asseyez-vous sur l’avant des fesses donc cambrez un peu le bas du dos. Puis poussez vos fesses vers le bas, en direction du sol.
  • Au niveau de la tête : rentrez un peu le menton puis poussez le point le plus haut de votre crâne vers le haut (comme si l’on vous tirait la tête vers le haut par les cheveux ou si vous deviez porter un poids sur la tête).
  • En résumé vous étirez votre colonne vertébrale : le bas vers le bas et le haut vers le haut. En fait, cela revient à activer (sans le savoir) tous vos muscles profonds pour lutter contre la pesanteur !

Au début ça peut paraitre fatiguant. Et c’est plus qu’une impression : vos muscles profonds se réhabituent à travailler et donc à redevenir plus endurants. Commencez par vous tenir droit quelques minutes.

Petit à petit, vous parviendrez à tenir plusieurs dizaines de minutes sans forcer. Ce sera devenu naturel pour vous ; vos muscles profonds auront gagné en endurance !

Remarque : l’Homme n’est pas fait pour rester assis très longtemps, que ce soit au boulot, à l’école ou à la maison.

Il faut se lever et bouger un peu toutes les 45 minutes, sans quoi vous augmentez énormément vos chances de développer des pathologies du dos…

Le saviez-vous ?!

  1. Se tenir droit tonifie automatiquement les muscles les plus profonds qui entourent la Colonne Vertébrale. En étant habitué à vous tenir droit : vous travaillez vos abdos sans même y penser, notamment vous diminuerez automatiquement votre tour de taille ! (Pour de plus amples explications, reportez-vous à la catégorie : Sport et Abdos après accouchement. Les infos sont valables pour tous.)
  2. Se tenir droit vous donne une certaine confiance en vous. Vous avez plus de prestance, vous “en imposez” plus. C’est important à considérer dans vos relations aux autres : que ce soit au boulot ou en amour…
  3. Se tenir droit (s’auto-grandir) permet de protéger toute votre colonne vertébrale : votre bas du dos, votre dos et votre cou. Votre colonne est “étirée” et donc vos disques ont suffisamment de place, ne sont pas tassés et s’usent nettement moins vite ! Vous éviterez pas mal de problèmes que je vois tous les jours en kiné : lombalgie, sciatique, hernie discale, lumbago, etc.

Yann Couderc est Diplômé d’Etat (France) en Masso-Kinésithérapie, spécialiste en kiné du sport. Il est l’auteur du blog LeCoinForme.comRetrouvez ses conseils sur sa page Facebook.


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