Adonis Diaries

Archive for November 22nd, 2013

Two Suicide bombers, one on motorcycle and another in a truck, kill 25 and injured 150 near Iran embassy in Beirut this November 19, 2013

BEIRUT/Bir Hasan: Two suicide bombers – one driving a rigged car and the other on a motorcycle with an explosives belt – attacked the Iranian Embassy in Beirut Tuesday, killing at least 25 people and wounding more than 150, security sources said.

The attack, confirmed by Lebanon’s military prosecutor as the work of suicide bombers, was claimed by an Al-Qaeda-linked group (The Abdullah Azzam brigades) and is the latest in a spate of deadly bombings linked to the war in Syria.

“The Abdullah Azzam brigades – the Hussein bin Ali cells – … are behind the attack on the Iranian embassy in Beirut,” Sheikh Sirajeddine Zuraiqat, the group’s religious guide, said on his Twitter feed. (Zuraiqat was detained in Beirut in 2012 and let loose)

(This brigade was very active in Egypt and particularly in Sinai where they targeted western tourists in Cherm al Sheikh during the Mubarak regime.  They launched rockets at the city of Nahariya last year in order to draw military reactions of Israel on Hezbollah, and targeted the Presidential Palace in Lebanon 4 months ago. The late Abdullah Azzam was killed in 1989…)

Zuraiqat confirmed “It is a twin suicide operation by two heroes from the Sunni community in Lebanon,” and warned that the group – a Lebanon-based Al-Qaeda affiliate – would carry out further attacks until Hezbollah withdraws its fighters from Syria and Islamist detainees in Lebanon are released.

A high-level security source said CCTV footage showed the first suicide bomber detonating his explosives belt at the embassy’s entrance just before 10 a.m. after approaching the compound on a motorcycle.

Minutes later, a second explosion shook the predominantly Shiite neighborhood of Bir Hasan when a second bomber detonated an explosives-laden Sports Utility Vehicle less than 50 meters from the embassy compound, the source added.

(The motorcycle was to destroy the Embassy door and let the vehicle be exploded within the compound. A water truck was ahead of the vehicle and the driver fled after the first conflagration and the truck the way to the next suicide bomber. The vehicle exploded in front of the building hosting the Iranian families of the embassy personnel)

In a statement, the Army said military experts determined the first explosion was the result of a suicide bomber on a motorcycle. The second suicide bomber was driving a four-wheel-drive vehicle, it added.

The security sources said among the 25 victims were Sheikh Ibrahim Ansari, the embassy’s cultural attaché who was leaving to be presented to the minister of culture, an Iranian civilian and a Lebanese who was employed at the embassy.

Five Iranians, including embassy guards and a nurse were also wounded in the bombings, according to the sources who spoke to The Daily Star on condition of anonymity.

Iranian Ambassador to Lebanon Ghazanfar Roknabadi, speaking hours after the explosions, said his embassy was the target of a “terrorist attack” and blamed Israel, Iran’s long-time foe.

Head of Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc, MP Mohammad Raad, also said Tuesday’s bombings suggested Israel may have been involved.

“The attack is similar to the racially vindictive approach of the Zionist enemy [Israel],” he said.

The area around the embassy was littered with debris as firefighters fought to contain the flames from burning vehicles parked on the road adjacent to the embassy compound.

At least 6 bodies lay on the street leading to the compound as thick plumes of black smoke filled the sky over the neighborhood.

“I was waiting at the traffic sign on the street parallel to the Iranian embassy when I heard a loud explosion,” said a motorist, who refused to be identified.

“I was terrified. I saw black smoke, but I decided to continue my trip to Shweifat [southeast of Beirut],” she added.

Lebanon, polarized over the war in Syria, has seen a string of deadly car bombings in recent months, all widely linked to crisis in its war-torn neighbor.

On two separate occasions, car bombs have targeted the southern suburbs of Beirut, a stronghold of Iranian-backed Hezbollah which in May acknowledged it was fighting in Syria alongside forces loyal to President Bashar Assad against rebel groups.

Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah has accused jihadists of being behind the bombings in the southern suburbs and vowed to  continue the military campaign in Syria as long as necessary.

(The embassy had no cement blocks around its perimeter as many embassies have, and is facing an open area and wide streets, otherwise the destruction and injuries would have been tripled by this 100 kg of bombs.)

(The military intelligence services have warned more than a year ago that Al Qaeda has bases in Lebanon, but the current minister of the interior and the chief of the internal security forces denied the accuracy of the military intelligence pieces…)

(In the afternoon, we watched the soccer game between Lebanon and Iran. The Iranian team won legs down (3 to 0)

Read more:
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News ::

Revolution will not be funded: NGO-ization of Palestine

“We reversed decision for the grant because Women of Color Against Violence’s stated its support for the Palestinian liberation struggle.” Ford Foundation

While many organizations have responded to such pressures by abandoning their principles for expediency’s sake, INCITE! instead responded in two ways:

1. it engaged in a revision of its fundraising strategies, looking for more grassroots sources rather than foundations; and

2. it organized an anthology of essays by activists and organizers that addresses the “deleterious effects foundations can have on radical social justice movements.

The essays are collected and published under the title, The Revolution Will Not be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex.

  posted in Kabobfest this JANUARY 21, 2010

The NGOization of Palestine

In 2004, INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence received an e-mail from the Ford Foundation. In the e-mail, the foundation rescinded a $100,000 grant it had awarded the group, explaining “that it had reversed its decision because of the organization’s statement of support for the Palestinian liberation struggle.”

The collection is a rigorous analysis and interrogation of the non-profit 501(c)(3) model of organizing. The political costs associated with such forms of incorporation and the loss of accountability associated with a duty towards large donors rather than the constituencies that organizers purport to care about.

The essays study how large foundations — like the Ford Foundation, which was funded in part by the CIA [Edit: To clarify the foundation itself was not funded by the CIA but some of its grants were. Moreover there was extensive collaboration between CIA and Ford Foundation during the Cold War.]– control social justice movements through the power of the purse.

The essays are an important and thought provoking read for all US-based activist concerned with social justice, and even those on the verge of graduation who believe that non-profit work is the most progressive route for change.

Having attended the Al Fakhoora Student Conference in Doha last weekend, I am posting an excerpt of the chapter The NGOization of Palestine, which includes interviews with Professor Hatem Bazian of American Muslims for Palestine, Professor Zeina Zaatari of the Global Fund for Women, and Atef Said an Egyptian human rights lawyer.

Having attended, I thought it worthwhile to consider the issues raised in these interviews and by the book in general.

How have non-profits impacted Palestinian and other Arab liberation struggles?

Hatem Bazian: NGOs control the purse strings. Through this funding or through the staff they hire, they assert their political agenda. For example, the largest coalition of organizations that work on Palestine do not insist on US divestment from Israel or devote organizing resources into achieving this agenda.

But look at the solidarity movements that developed around apartheid South Africa and Central America: they made divestment central to their struggle.

These movements recognized that economic sanctions and pressure are central to change a government’s policies. When it comes to Palestine, NGOs do not want to offend certain segments of the liberal Zionist community. So they shift their focus to changing Israel’s mind without making Israel suffer. This kind of strategy was dismissed as ineffectual in the South African and Central American solidarity movements.

The Palestinian struggle (which does not differentiate between land stolen from Palestinians in 1948 and land stolen in 1967) has demanded the right of return for all Palestinian refugees and calls for Palestine to be a complete whole.

But today, almost all NGOs and foundations call for a “two-state solution” that insists Israel, as it’s currently constructed, must exist as is, and that Palestinians must learn to accept colonization and occupation.

The two-state solution defends Israel’s “right” to define itself on racially exclusivity criteria, and hence exist as a racially apartheid state.  By proposing that Palestine exist as a divided, demilitarized state whose resources are fully controlled by Israel, this approach effectively eliminates the possibility of Palestinians having a real state that encompasses their historical and international rights. In other words, this “solution” would essentially dispense with the 6 million Palestinian refugees.

In other solidarity movements, there is often the understanding that they exist to support liberation struggles, not to dictate the terms of those struggles. However, when it comes to Palestine, NGOs feel they have the right to tell Palestinians what to do. In their framework, the problem is not Israeli colonization and occupation; the problem is that Palestinians need to be trained to develop “civil society” and learn to cooperate with Israel.

Consequently, funding is often focused on developing joint “Israeli-Palestinian” ventures and projects rather than address the issue of occupation.

The NGOization of the solidarity movement in the US has been so thorough that anyone who criticizes this position is silenced and marginalized. (For instance, in the Bay Area there used to be an annual demonstration for Peace, Jobs, and Justice throughout the 1980s, and no speakers on Palestine were allowed to speak nor they supported the two-state solution.)

Without exception, every foundation that funds work on Palestine (from the most conservative to the most “progressive”) does so from the understanding that Israel, as it currently exists, should stay intact, and the solution is to change Palestinians aso that they will adapt to their colonial situation.

Now, for instance, the [Open Society Institute] wants to bring Palestinian intellectuals to the US to “train them.” Train them to do what? Train them to see the situation in the way the US does and facilitate the continued colonization of Palestine?

Zeina Zaatari: Organizations that are able to operate and function and have enough resources to hire staff–these organizations are careful and strategic about what they say. There are lines they do not cross, or else they are penalized.

United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) has more foundation support than Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER), although both coalition efforts organize against war.

A big  difference is that ANSWER includes Arab organizations with a clear political view, groups UPFJ doesn’t invite into its leadership. Basically, it is not okay for organizations to address Zionism or historic Palestine. You can talk about occupation, but you cannot talk about discrimination within the Israeli state or the right to return.

For instance, San Francisco Women Against Rape lost funding when it started to address the issue of Zionism in its organization. On the issue of Lebanon, it is okay to send money for support services, but it is not okay to talk about liberation.

If you talk about violence, you must denounce the liberation movement in Lebanon; you cannot focus on the violence perpetrated by Israel. Follow the money track, and it’s clear that foundations are driving these and other political agendas.

For another example of how deeply foundation funding impacts this movement, compare the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) with the National Council of Arab Americans. The ADC works with the FBI, supports US interventions in Afghanistan, does not take clear stands on Palestine, and works with US government officials (such as Colin Powell and Madeline Albright) who are responsible for killing our people. Its focus is to make Arabs acceptable to the mainstream US, not grassroots organizing.

The National Council of Arab Americans, meanwhile, calls for an end to the colonization of Palestine, addresses Zionism, and does not support the two-state solution. Consequently, it has a much more difficult time getting funding. Additionally, as a result of the Patriot Act, even individuals are afraid to support Arab liberation organizations because they are targeted by the US government.

Atef Said: In Egypt, NGOization often competes with grassroots organizing  work. or instance, in labor organizing, NGOs encourage workers not to clash with business owners, thus pacifying labor struggles.

Sadly, most NGO leaders were previously involved in the country’s Left movements, but were seduced into the NGO world  because they can be funded (including personal benefits like travel and luxury hotel accommodations) and incur less trouble with the establishment. A significant problem with this model, of course, is that NGOs depend on foundations for their resources, not the people.

Thus, they spend little if any time organizing and are instead accountable only to their funders. For example, since NGOs err dependent on foundation support, directors of NGOs focus on quantity rather than quality of work (that is publish  more reports in less time).

In 1997 and 1998, I started to observe from my work in these human rights NGOs that they are a bit isolated, and while they claim to defend people’s human rights, they are not invested in the question of social change and social justice.

For instance, if we look at the case of workers who are fired or o n strike–a labor organizer would work with them to continue their activism and organization. BUt the NGO legal aid staffer would ask to be authorized legally to sue the employer on the worker’s behalf. In other words, the NGO asks the worker to stop her/his activism: “Go home and just authorize me to sue him.

After 1998, I continued to work in these NGOs with no big hope that they will really do genuine human rights work. I started to work voluntarily with labor as well as the Palestine solidarity movement, and it  became clear that my work for human rights NGOs was just a paid job.

On the positive side, because of growing social movement that are not NGOized, particularly those in support of Palestine, some NGOs are focusing more on grassroots work, even if it impacts their funding.

Historically, how has the NGOization of the Palestinian struggle developed?

Hatem Bazian: Beginning in the 18th century, Christian missionary workers emerged in the middle East and set about influencing policy through education. Banking institutions also developed that became involved with Christian elites. European countries, in turn, often claimed themselves as the protectors of Christians in the area to justify political intervention in the region. Using educational exchange programs, England, France, and later, the US aspired to create an elite within the region that would support their interests.

After Israel was created in 1948, the Palestinian liberation movement was often shaped by Arab states. They tried to control the movement and its interaction with Israel so that it would not negatively impact their diplomatic relations with Western countries. The PLO, which was constructed from outside Palestine,  mirrored the authoritarian structure and corruption of the neocolonial Arab states. However, since the uprising of the 1980s, the shaping of this movement has shifted from outside Palestine to inside of it. It is now less susceptible to being co-opted into the Arab state structure and can as sert a different vision for struggle. This vision, of course, is fluid and the movement has diverse sectors.

After the 1970s, NGOs emerged as key shapers of the movement. But they too attempted to influence the movement in ways that accorded with US and Western interests. So, while NGOization is amore recent phenomenon, it is part of a legacy of outside interests attempting to shape a liberation struggle in a way that support imperial forces rather than the Palestinian people.

Zeina Zaatari: Oslo helped set the framework for what is and is not acceptable. Pre-Oslo, or during the first intifada, political movements were still strong, organizing within Palestine, and, to a lesser extent, in refugee camps outside Palestine. But Oslo isolated the Palestinian issue as unrelated to larger Arab-Israeli conflicts, and transformed the movement by shifting its focus from liberation to statehood  and from decolonization to peace.

Funders supported the Oslo agenda by rewarding projects concerned with mutual coexistence, and forced the collaboration between Israeli and Palestinian groups. Within Palestine, organizations previously concerned with a broader vision for justice — such as freedom for historic Palestine ,the right of return, and the land — turned their attention to smaller issues such as social services and other structures necessary for statehood, representational politics, and constitutional development.

Donors put much money behind this kind of work, and the work of liberation became much more compartmentalized: for instance, the issue of refugees became separated from the larger liberation struggle, its emphasis redirected in the post-Oslo political and funding climate from the right of return to humanitarian relief.

“The Little Schools” of Mount Lebanon. And Joseph Delore (1873-1944)

In the first half of 1900, The Jesuit missionaries in Mount Lebanon instituted “little Schools” in the poor villages of Mount Lebanon, particularly in the current districts of Batroun and Kesrouwan.

Joseph Delore (1873-1944) consecrated his life in running, organizing and supplying 42 primary schools, serving about 1,800 kids and taken care of by 47 teachers, recruited in the remote towns.

The Jesuit priest Delore was born in Limonest (Lyon district in France) and joined the Jesuit congregation at Ghazir (Lebanon) in 1891.

He spent 4 years in Cairo (1895-99) and was consecrated priest in 1907.

Back to Ghazir until WWI broke and Delore enlisted as military nurse in the French army.

Delore didn’t witness the famine calamity that harvested a third of the population in the two aforementioned districts, but he already sensed the miseries of the people before the war broke up and tried hard to warn the missionaries to sending more fund and more supplies to the remote villages in Mount Lebanon.

For the remaining of his life, Delore dedicated his time, energy and sleepless nights to running the little schools. Actually, many of these schools were funded by benefactors that Delore was in contact with them, and kept their names and addresses secret from the Jesuit congregation.

Delore visited all these schools on foot, and when a mule was used, it was to carry supplies like books, notebooks, cloths, shoes… and stuff for religious ceremonies. He carried two bags over his shoulders, one bag in leather and the other one in cloth.

He ceaselessly walked treacherous paths and in high altitudes, in warm and cold weather, were he could encounter wolves, hyenas… Luckily, he was never seriously injured or broke a bone.

His visits were to surprise the teachers and the students and check if the schools are meticulously run and controlled.

Delore had no secretary, and used no typewriters or copiers.

All his missives and letters  were handwritten and classified (Read, reviewed, responded to, seen, finished with…). Any researcher would need the patience of Job to untie the parcels and unfold letters within larger envelops…He did all the wrapping of parcels by himself and all the accounting…

In order to recruit teachers, Delore submitted them to a series of exams.

With all his dedication to learn the Arabic language and the local dialects, he failed to communicate in the local languages.

An artist who drew his portrait 4 years before Delore’s death, described him as someone with a “central idea’ that no one could deter him from pursuing.  Delore was still svelte, alert, an ascetic face, the forehead ravaged by deep rides.

Delore never slept on a bed and used public phones instead of the one that the congregation installed in his room.

It was a habit for Delore to confess everyone he met on his path, and he confessed 5 times a day to the clergy in the villages so that to encourage them to confess to him.

This is a passage from Delore diary after he returned from WWI to Lebanon:

“I climbed for 3 hours to the village of Hommairah overlooking river Ibrahim. All the people attended the evening mass and confessed.

I witnessed the same religious zeal at Sannoun. In these two villages, only 100 of the 270 inhabitants survived the Great Famine (1915-1918) and the houses were in a crumbling condition. My third station was at Michene whose poor church is dedicated to St. George. I resumed my trip to Machnaka and found 3 sculpted steles: One to Adonis, one to Astarte and the third representing the King, Queen and Son.

I descended to Farhet where only 70 of the original 300 survived the famine. Even the Metwalis (Moslem Shia) of about 200 homes demanded a school for girls. A school for girls will serve 10 other villages, including Hosoun…”

Note 1:  This is a quick review of “The Little Schools” of Mount Lebanon, edited and arranged by Levon Nordiguian. All the black and white photos were taken by Joseph Delore, including aerial pictures of cities such as Beirut, Jounieh, Homs, Hama…

It is striking to see all these photos of student kids of the period (1910-1944) in their homemade garment, the kinds of photos that grand moms looked like. Many came to the school, an annex to the church, barefooted and threadbare tunics.

It would be an excellent project or thesis to revisit these villages, strong with the photos, and investigate how many graduated and how their offspring fared in the second half of the century.

Note 2: In the district of Batroun you had the schools in Kfar Abida, Smar Jbeil, Zane, Abdilleh, Toula, Bejjeh, Ghalboun, Abaydate, Lehfed, Jaj, Tartej, Bchaaleh, Douma, Kartaba, Akoura…

In the district of Kesrouwan you have the schools in Halat, Jezayer, Aqaibeh, Bouwar, Safra, Tabarja, Ghazir, Jounieh, Haret Sakhr, Ghosta, Chananiir,, Dlepta, Jdaidet Ghazir, Fatka, Ghodress, Nammoura, Ghbaleh, Bez3el, Bir el Hait, Ya7choush, Chouwan,  Mcheteh, Nahr Dahab, Chahtoul, Hiyata, Kfar Debyene, Meyrouba, Hrajel, Faraya…

Note 3: Father Maurice de Frenon described the villages in his book “Visit of the schools in Lebanon 1937)

” Smar Jbeil with its citadel and old church… Abdilleh with its crumbling houses and falling in ruin after the Great Famine (1915-1918), Jaj, both well-off and miserable, Tartej with poor houses and dirt roofs and savage kids in tatered cloth running after their goats, Bchaaleh where young girls work the “broderies and dantelles”… Douma, a Greek orthodox town, comfortably settled amid a green amphitheater and feeric red tiled homes…

The kids in the Metwali towns (meaning the Moslem Shiaa in Kesrouwan) throw stones at passing cars… And way up, two towns: Kartaba welcoming visitors in modern European hotels and Akoura that remained intact from civilization at the feet of mountains…”




November 2013

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