Adonis Diaries

Archive for September 12th, 2014

 

A lost Lebanon – in pictures

When artist Ania Dabrowska started working with Diab Alkarssifi, a homeless Lebanese man in London, she made a startling discovery.

Diab was a compulsive photographer with a hoard of unseen pictures from his homeland.

Diab has saved more than 27,000 pictures

To support the publication of this archive, visit

A Lebanese Archive at kickstarter.com/projects/ 723440909/a-lebanese-archive-by-ania-dabrowska

Young men standing by a pool in the 70s
Young men standing by a pool in the 70s Diab Alkarssifi Photograph: Diab Alkarssifi
Millitary skiing championships in the Cedar mountains
Millitary skiing championships in the Cedar mountains Diab Alkarssifi
Posed portrait of an unknown woman
Posed portrait of an unknown woman Diab Alkarssifi Photograph: Diab Alkarssifi
Fatima Hammdo in traditional dress and army uniform in the 1970s
Fatima Hammdo in traditional dress and army uniform in the 1970s Photograph: Diab Alkarssifi
Diab Alkarssifi with a friend in the 1980s
Diab Alkarssifi with a friend in the 1980s Photograph: Diab Alkarssifi
Miss Universe Georgina Rizk visiting Baalbek in 1977
Miss Universe Georgina Rizk visiting Baalbek in 1977 Photograph: Diab Alkarssifi
Diab’s wife, Ietedal, in 1989
Diab’s wife, Ietedal, in 1989 Photograph: Diab Alkarssifi
A state visit of King Saud bin Abdul Aziz to Baalbek Temple in 196
A state visit of King Saud bin Abdul Aziz to Baalbek Temple in 1966 Diab Alkarssifi Photograph: Diab Alkarssifi
Baalbeck festival, 1970s
Baalbeck festival, 1970s Photograph: Diab Alkarssifi
Ashad's Mother, Chlifa village, 1984
Ashad’s Mother, Chlifa village, 1984 Diab Alkarssifi Photograph: Diab Alkarssifi
Political martyrs memorial rally, Almarg village, 1977

Political martyrs memorial rally, Almarg village, 1977 Diab Alkarssifi Photograph: Diab Alkarssifi
More galleries from The Guardian

Are Lebanese on the verge of committing Anti-Syrian pogroms?

(Note: The local news didn’t cover most of these stories and the government is’t coming foreward with news on what it is doing to liberate the over 40 Lebanese soldiers held by the Syrian insurgents)

Abu Gaby’s life (a pseudonym) hasn’t been the same since Saturday evening.

He’s not sleeping properly. He’s changed his daily routine – no longer using taxis after dark; “taking precautions,” as he puts it, “that I never thought about before.”

His work as a filmmaker has ground to a halt. “I’m unable to focus on anything,” he says. “I’m thinking only about how I can stay safe in this situation.”

Alex Rowell published this September 10, 2014 (Myra Abdallah contributed reporting).

Anti-Syrian pogroms point to darker future in Lebanon

With refugees now fearing for their lives, Lebanon is edging closer to breakdown

As NOW’s Rayan Majed reported Tuesday, Abu Gaby was one of dozens of Syrian refugees physically assaulted across Lebanon Saturday after news broke of the execution (slain and head detached) of a second Lebanese Army captive by Islamic State (ISIS) militants.

Hearing his Syrian accent in a shared Beirut taxi, a passenger beside him asked him his name. He replied with a fake Armenian one, hoping it would spare him.

Brandishing a knife, the passenger then grabbed him by the collar and shook him, saying, “I’m letting you go [only] because you’re Armenian.”

Under the circumstances, Abu Gaby was fortunate: many Syrians suffered far worse in the ethno-sectarian pogroms that ensued from Beirut to the south coast to the eastern Beqaa Valley.

Pictures soon surfaced of Syrian refugees and laborers lying on the streets being kicked and beaten by mobs.

In one case, residents in Baalbek tied up two men and left them as human roadblocks facing the traffic at the town’s entrance.

Meanwhile, gunmen set up flying checkpoints on several Beqaa roads, checking motorists’ IDs and detaining Sunni Muslim passengers, leading one columnist to dub it another “Black Saturday,” in reference to an infamous 1975 massacre of motorists at militia checkpoints based on sectarian identity, (and perpetrated by Christian Phalangists and of current Samir Ja3ja3 Lebanese Front).

Notices appeared on walls in numerous neighborhoods demanding the departure of all Syrians within hours, with one in Beirut’s Zoqaq al-Blat threatening those not complying with “slaughter or torture until death.”

Tents in makeshift refugee camps were torched, prompting hundreds of families in Shiite-majority areas of the Beqaa to pack up their tents and flee to Sunni regions.

A sign of how frightened those doubly-displaced Syrian refugees are is the lengths they’ve gone to conceal themselves. I

n Al-Rahma Camp, the largest Syrian refugee settlement in the central Beqaa’s Bar Elias, a representative of the charity running the camp told NOW Tuesday there were no new arrivals as a result of Saturday’s attacks.

“I heard they went to Jeb Jenin,” he said. A half-hour drive later, a camp official in Jeb Jenin assured NOW they weren’t there, either.

“I have no information on their whereabouts,” he said, echoing what the UNHCR, the Ministry of Social Affairs, the municipalities of three major refugee-hosting towns in the Beqaa, and Human Rights Watch had all said as well. “You have to understand, they’re terrified,” said Nabil al-Halabi, a lawyer and activist who runs a local human rights NGO, LIFE, working with Syrian refugees.

“They’re not willing to work with the authorities. They’re not even telling us where they are.”

 

Indeed, with reports Wednesday that the Lebanese Army itself has begun dismantling camps in the southern Tyre region, refugees’ distrust of Lebanese state institutions may yet grow more pronounced.

“I never thought this could happen to me in Lebanon,” Abu Gaby told NOW of his Saturday evening experience. “I had the same feeling as when I was arrested by Syrian intelligence in Damascus. In Lebanon, I now have the same level of fear and worry as I had in Syria.”

Should these events lead to further and long-lasting deterioration in relations between Syrian refugees and their Lebanese hosts, there could be grave social and political repercussions, analysts told NOW.

“What happened on Saturday is a first sign potentially heralding the breakdown of Lebanese society,” said Hussam Itani, columnist at Al-Hayat newspaper. “It’s very dangerous. We’re in a situation of total disconnection between the government, civil society, and all the middle grounds that could unite the Lebanese people.”

The underlying cause of this crisis, argued Itani, was repeated sectarian and political incitement against Syrian refugees by Lebanese political parties.

“These incidents were not spontaneous. They are the result of 3-and-a-half years of a discourse opposing the Syrian uprising and the Syrian people’s right to decide their fate, and categorizing the Syrian people as supporters of the Islamic State and opponents of the so-called ‘resistance.’ This created a tense atmosphere that only needed one reason to explode.”

An especial concern for the longer run is the potential future militarization of some Syrian refugees, emulating the history of Lebanon’s Palestinian refugees in the 1970s.

To be sure, 80% of Syrian refugees in Lebanon are women and children. But the worse the situation becomes, the greater is the chance of a fringe minority developing a desire to take up arms, says Itani.

“This is an important question that very few are thinking of,” he told NOW. “If things get worse, the refugees’ reaction could turn dangerous, and it could turn uncontrollable. The lack of organization of the refugees makes them vulnerable to political manipulation.”

“They might today be occupied with their daily life problems, but this doesn’t mean they might not one day join the political battlefield and defend their interests.”

Note: Lebanon political system is at a standstill for over 3 months. No president to the republic has been selected and the parliament is no longer legitimate since it has extended its tenure for 2 years and expecting to re-extend its stay without election the coming month. Only the army with scarce weapons and ammunition and Hezbollah can keep security for a while.

Is Israel hiding the facts? “The secret report” by PATRICK COCKBURN

The secret report that helps Israel hide facts

The slickness of Israel’s spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by the pollster Frank Luntz

Israeli spokesmen have their work cut out explaining how they have killed more than 2,000 Palestinians in Gaza, most of them civilians, compared with just three civilians killed in Israel by Hamas rocket and mortar fire.

But on television and radio and in newspapers, Israeli government spokesmen such as Mark Regev appear slicker and less aggressive than their predecessors, who were often visibly indifferent to how many Palestinians were killed.

There is a reason for this enhancement of the PR skills of Israeli spokesmen.

Going by what they say, the playbook they are using is a professional, well-researched and confidential study on how to influence the media and public opinion in America and Europe.

Written by the expert Republican pollster and political strategist Dr Frank Luntz, the study was commissioned 5 years ago by a group called The Israel Project, with offices in the US and Israel, for use by those “who are on the front lines of fighting the media war for Israel”.

Every one of the 112 pages in the booklet is marked “not for distribution or publication” and it is easy to see why.

The Luntz report, officially entitled “The Israel project’s 2009 Global Language Dictionary, was leaked almost immediately to Newsweek Online, but its true importance has seldom been appreciated. It should be required reading for everybody, especially journalists, interested in any aspect of Israeli policy because of its “dos and don’ts” for Israeli spokesmen.

These are highly illuminating about the gap between what Israeli officials and politicians really believe, and what they say, the latter shaped in minute detail by polling to determine what Americans want to hear.

Certainly, no journalist interviewing an Israeli spokesman should do so without reading this preview of many of the themes and phrases employed by Mr Regev and his colleagues.

The booklet is full of meaty advice about how they should shape their answers for different audiences.

For example, the study says that “Americans agree that Israel ‘has a right to defensible borders’. But it does you no good to define exactly what those borders should be. Avoid talking about borders in terms of pre- or post-1967, because it only serves to remind Americans of Israel’s military history. Particularly on the left this does you harm. For instance, support for Israel’s right to defensible borders drops from a heady 89% to under 60% when you talk about it in terms of 1967.”

How about the right of return for Palestinian refugees who were expelled or fled in 1948 and in the following years, and who are not allowed to go back to their homes?

Here Dr Luntz has subtle advice for spokesmen, saying that “the right of return is a tough issue for Israelis to communicate effectively because much of Israeli language sounds like the ‘separate but equal’ words of the 1950s segregationists and the 1980s advocates of Apartheid. The fact is, Americans don’t like, don’t believe and don’t accept the concept of ‘separate but equal’.”

So how should spokesmen deal with what the booklet admits is a tough question? They should call it a “demand”, on the grounds that Americans don’t like people who make demands.

“Then say ‘Palestinians aren’t content with their own state. Now they’re demanding territory inside Israel’.” Other suggestions for an effective Israeli response include saying that the right of return might become part of a final settlement “at some point in the future”.

VIDEO: THE LATEST FROM GAZA

Dr Luntz notes that Americans as a whole are fearful of mass immigration into the US, so mention of “mass Palestinian immigration” into Israel will not go down well with them. If nothing else works, say that the return of Palestinians would “derail the effort to achieve peace”.

The Luntz report was written in the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead in December 2008 and January 2009, when 1,387 Palestinians and nine Israelis were killed.

There is a whole chapter on “isolating Iran-backed Hamas as an obstacle to peace”.

Unfortunately, come the current Operation Protective Edge, which began on 6 July, there was a problem for Israeli propagandists because Hamas had quarrelled with Iran over the war in Syria and had no contact with Tehran.

Friendly relations have been resumed only in the past few days – thanks to the Israeli invasion.

Frank Luntz

Frank Luntz

Much of Dr Luntz’s advice is about the tone and presentation of the Israeli case. He says it is absolutely crucial to exude empathy for Palestinians:

“Persuadable people won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Show Empathy for BOTH sides!” This may explain why a number of Israeli spokesman are almost lachrymose about the plight of Palestinians being pounded by Israeli bombs and shells.

In a sentence in bold type, underlined and with capitalisation, Dr Luntz says that Israeli spokesmen or political leaders must never, ever justify “the deliberate slaughter of innocent women and children” and they must aggressively challenge those who accuse Israel of such a crime.

Israeli spokesmen struggled to be true to this prescription when 16 Palestinians were killed in a UN shelter in Gaza last Thursday.

There is a list of words and phrases to be used and a list of those to be avoided.

Schmaltz is at a premium: “The best way, the only way, to achieve lasting peace is to achieve mutual respect.”

Above all, Israel’s desire for peace with the Palestinians should be emphasised at all times because this what Americans overwhelmingly want to happen.

But any pressure on Israel to actually make peace can be reduced by saying “one step at a time, one day at a time”, which will be accepted as “a commonsense approach to the land-for-peace equation”.

Dr Luntz cites as an example of an “effective Israeli sound bite” one which reads: “I particularly want to reach out to Palestinian mothers who have lost their children. No parent should have to bury their child.”

The study admits that the Israeli government does not really want a two-state solution, but says this should be masked because 78 per cent of Americans do. Hopes for the economic betterment of Palestinians should be emphasised.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is quoted with approval for saying that it is “time for someone to ask Hamas: what exactly are YOU doing to bring prosperity to your people”. The hypocrisy of this beggars belief: it is the seven-year-old Israeli economic siege that has reduced the Gaza to poverty and misery.

On every occasion, the presentation of events by Israeli spokesmen is geared to giving Americans and Europeans the impression that Israel wants peace with the Palestinians and is prepared to compromise to achieve this, when all the evidence is that it does not.

Though it was not intended as such, few more revealing studies have been written about modern Israel in times of war and peace.

Mohamad Al Jabban posted on FB

Ansam, aged 9, with the body of her 4 year-old brother, Sameh Jned, before his funeral in the Jabaliya Refugee Camp, North Gaza Strip.

Sameh was killed by Israeli tank fire in the garden of his family home.

READ MORE
WHAT IF IT HAD BEEN 35 PALESTINIAN DEAD, AND 800 ISRAELI?
WHY I’M ON THE BRINK OF BURNING MY ISRAELI PASSPORT
AYELET SHAKED: MY RESPONSE TO MIRA BAR-HILLEL

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