Adonis Diaries

Archive for November 20th, 2015

“If anyone understands any Arabic in the vicinity of gate 4-A : come to the gate immediately”


After learning my flight was detained 4 hours, I heard the announcement: If anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any Arabic, please come to the gate immediately.

Well—one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there.

An older woman in full traditional Palestinian dress, just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly.
Help, said the flight service person. Talk to her. What is her problem? We told her the flight was going to be four hours late and she did this.

I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly.
Shu dowa, shu- badick habibti, stanni stanni schway, (wait a little) min fadlick, sho bit se-wee?

The minute she heard any words she knew—however poorly used—she stopped crying.

She thought our flight had been canceled entirely.
She needed to be in El Paso for some major medical treatment the following day.

I said no, no, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just late,

Who is picking you up? Let’s call him and tell him.
We called her son and I spoke with him in English.
I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and would ride next to her—Southwest.

She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it.

Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and found out of course they had ten shared friends.

Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian poets I know and let them chat with her. This all took up about 2 hours.

She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life. Answering

She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies—little powdered sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts—out of her bag—and was offering them to all the women at the gate.

To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a sacrament.

The traveler from Argentina, the traveler from California,
the lovely woman from Laredo—we were all covered with the same powdered sugar.

And smiling. There are no better cookies.

And then the airline broke out the free beverages from huge coolers—non-alcoholic—and the two little girls for our flight, one African
American, one Mexican American—ran around serving us all apple juice and lemonade and they were covered with powdered sugar too.

And I noticed my new best friend—by now we were holding hands—
had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing,

With green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.

And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought, this is the world I want to live in.

The shared world.

Not a single person in this gate—once the crying of confusion stopped—has seemed apprehensive about any other person.

They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women too.
This can still happen anywhere.

Not everything is lost.
Naomi Shihab Nye


Photo by Manon Clavelier

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berlin-artparasites's photo.

Why Paris shows that ISIS is losing and we who maintain the Greystone are winning

At first I had nothing. Nothing at all. The second mass murder of civilians in a year in the same city by homicidal maniacs inspired by the same ideology.

A strategy of multiple, coordinated killings by people hell-bent on their death in addition to that of others, which by its nature is near impossible to stop.

The usual catch-all claim/excuse from those claiming to be the perpetrators that it was “because” of a foreign policy (this time Syria, but it might as well be the rebel attack on the Death Star in the original Star Wars so desperate is the search for justification), AND that it was immoral Western values they were attacking.

November 14, 2015 by Paul Goldsmith

Then the polarized reaction, particularly on social media, of those hell-bent on using this to attack Islam, and those hell-bent on insisting that ‘Western Foreign Policy’ causes these things. Nothing new then. So I had nothing new.

Eventually, stumbling around intellectually as if I were drunk, I tripped over Iyad El Baghdadi (here), an Arab Spring Activist who was expelled by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in response to his activities. He had something. It certainly gave me a lot more clarity.

El-Baghdadi tends to use a series of tweets to make his point, and then engage in reasoned debate with anyone willing to engage with him in a sensible way.

Two of the threads that have resulted can be found here and here.

The first of these is really important. In it, El-Baghdadi argues that ISIS want to eliminate any sense that it is possible for Muslims and non-Muslims to co-exist, because if that is possible, then the binary world of “believers” and “non-believers” can’t exist.

Any sense of a “Greyzone” in between, where, in the words of ISIS, the Muslim and the Kufar co-exist must therefore be destroyed, so that, in El-Baghdadi’s words, the world becomes as black and white as ISIS’s flag.

ISIS have quoted Osama Bin Laden’s view that “The world today can be divided into two camps. Bush spoke the truth when he said ‘Either you are with us, or with the Terrorists’. Meaning, either you are with the crusade, or you are with Islam.”

So, El-Baghdadi argued, the worst thing that we in the Western World can do is give ISIS what they want.

Which would be to turn on the Muslim world, giving them no choice but to align themselves with ISIS.

Given the ability of ISIS, who represent a tiny percentage of the Muslim World to terrorise us, imagine, asks El-Baghdadi, a situation where they get a lot more support.

The answer therefore is to find authentic Muslim ideological allies against ISIS, as only Muslims can eliminate ISIS.

We should remember that the vast majority of Muslims already regard ISIS as their enemy (but the silence ones? Anyone performed a study on them?).

After all, ISIS kill more Muslims than any other group. So, we in the Western World MUST ensure that the greyzone is maintained.

Which is why, according to El-Baghdadi, the attacks took place yesterday. They were an act of desperation in response to the West’s help for refugees fleeing from Syria and Libya. All those Western democracies lining up to say that they welcome refugees? That didn’t fit the narrative.

“You know what pissed off Islamist extremists the most about Europe?

It was watching their very humane, moral response to the refugee crisis.

Seeing Europeans line up to help and embrace Muslim refugees infuriated and shattered the worldview of so many Islamist extremists. 

The Islamist extremist worldview says that we’re separate, different, hate each other and are eternal enemies. 

Wanna shatter the Islamist extremist worldview? Show them we aren’t separate or different and don’t hate each and can be eternal friends.” 

(But France was lukewarm on accepting refugees. Germany should have been the prime target. But again, Germany is more prepared security wise and the Moslem there, mostly Kurds are Not going to make incursion of terrors in Germany.)

So, ISIS realised they had to do something to stop us taking in refugees. They had to do something to remind us that Muslims are supposed to be our enemies.

They had to do something to make us fear these ‘strangers’ in our midst.

That they had to resort to what they did on Friday night, and according to the latest reports, they trained and sent 15 to 18 year old boys to carry out these murders, shows that the West is winning, not losing.

Whatever we do now, we must not stop winning. We must be brave and maintain the greyzone.

Yes, people died last night. But the alternative is going to be a war in which millions more could die. So we must show the same courage as the French people are showing today.

Security spending always increase after an attack:

And no security personnel or politician is challenged or fired

From Mises Institute

On the heels of recent events in Paris, French President Francois Hollande proves the old adage that when all you’ve got is a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail:

Hollande announced that France will intensify air strikes against the so-called Islamic State (IS) in Syria, and said that the French Constitution should be changed to better deal with this kind of crises in future.

He also unveiled plans to boost security spending and hire 5,000 new police officers over the next two years.

Hollande made it clear that, as a result, France will miss the deficit reduction targets agreed with the European Commission, adding that “the security pact prevails over the [EU] stability pact.” (A nice way Not to fulfil anything he promised)

It’s important to note that when state intelligence and security agencies fail spectacularly, their budgets and personnel increase. 

Nobody gets fired, nobody apologizes.

On the contrary: military, security, and intelligence bureaucrats use events like terror attacks to demand more money, more power, and an expanded mission. (It never fails. Actually, they perpetrate terror attacks or hide intelligence pieces for this purpose)

This represents the very antithesis of how markets should operate, where failures are swiftly punished and non-performing actors are sent into bankruptcy.

Is there something magical about state-provided security that forces us to accept this?

The left loves to talk about supposed market failures, but why don’t we talk about state failures in the aftermath of tragedies like Paris?

Consider the enormity of the US government’s failures culminating on September 11th, 2001.

Even after spending trillions on Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, DOD, CIA, NSA, FBI, FISA, state and local police, etc. etc., a handful of middle class Saudi flight students with box cutters were able to kill several thousand Americans. But did a single American official lose their job as a result?

Without market discipline and market signals, it is impossible to judge the effectiveness of Hollande, Bush, or Obama in fighting terrorism or anything else. It is impossible to judge alternative uses of money and manpower. It is impossible to calculate whether a particular policy “works.” Everything becomes a matter of good intentions.

Have you noticed that intentions loom large as a justification for the war on terror?

We are the good guys, spreading democracy and fighting extremism.

Thus the nobility of our mission excuses the occasional collateral damage. (How about frequent?)

In this sense the war on terror brings out in conservatives the same errors, emotionalism, and blind spots that the war on poverty elicits among left progressives.

A progressive person looks at a neighborhood mired in poverty and reacts viscerally.

The state must act, and act quickly, to alleviate the situation.

The fastest and most obvious remedy is money, since poverty is defined by a lack of it.

So we should give poor people money, and keep doing so until they are not poor.

Never mind the underlying causes of poverty: criminality, unwed birth rates, drug use, and indifference/hostility to education (progressives think these are symptoms rather than causes, of course).

Never mind that anti-poverty programs implemented by the state are thoroughly wasteful and create all the wrong incentives. And

Never mind that generation after generation remains mired in poverty, made hopelessly dependent on government despite the trillions spent since the birth of the Great Society.

For progressives, good intentions are all that matters.

Only a heartless conservative could look at a poor neighborhood and think government should do nothing– or worse yet, that the private sector could attack poverty more effectively.

A conservative looks at an act of terrorism and also reacts viscerally.

The state, through its military apparatus, must get the bastards. The fastest and most obvious approach is to lash out with bombs, planes, tanks, guns, and boots on the ground.

ISIS wants war, let’s give them just that.

Never mind that both the US and France have been thoroughly involved in destabilizing the Middle East for decades. (France institutions hate the Syrians. Period. The Syrians opposed valiantly French mandated power over Syria.)

Never mind that endless military spending has not made America or Europe one iota safer, and in fact has made them less safe due to readily predictable blowback.

And never mind that Christians, who once found reasonable security in Iraq, Syria, and Libya, are now fleeing for their very lives in those countries.

What matters is that we do something, and fight the bastards over there. That’s the conservative position.

Only someone who hates freedom could dare question whether any of this actually works, or suggest we’re actually worse off than before the death, carnage, and expense of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

And so it goes. While states and politicians blunder about, perhaps the world will wake up to what really creates peace and security: commerce, trade, and military non-intervention. (Most wars were pre-empting a country trade outperforming another country. The example of England against Germany in WWI)

In the meantime, we might look at a place like the Bataclan Theatre in Paris and ask ourselves whether private security might have made a difference.


In 24 hours:  Discovering that humanity is even better than fairy tales.

After the attacks in Lebanon and France and the one to one encounters with the thousands of refugees fleeing war and terror, I lost hope in humanity and my tears started pouring every now and then for stupid reasons.
In the last 24h of my trip in Greece I went out to listen to live music, was looking at this amazing singer with her amazing voice embracing the world, so happy and festive and my tears were just pouring non stop.

The night ended with all of us dancing, meeting each other, hugging and celebrating life.

On that last same day in Greece, we went for a hike. On the way, and just like in fairy tales, we met an old guy who has Parkinson’s disease, sitting by himself eating nuts.

He stopped us, showed us the way and gave us an orange.

We then passed by a distillery, the smell reminded me of my uncle’s winery.

The family sitting inside invited us in, we ate with them, they gave us fresh bread for the road and a full bottle full of fresh Ouzo.

Few hours later we passed by a real Greek wedding happening in a small chapel by the sea with two men playing violin and busuki.

We enjoyed the music, the scenery and the love all around. We then hitchhiked back with two French men half way, and a group of Greek and American guys the other half to get to the car.

This all happened in 24 hours, as if the universe and maybe Greece specifically didn’t want me to leave feeling so sad and hopeless.
They wanted to let me know that humanity is not lost and that life can and is even better than fairy tales.

Note: Sabine and her troop of clowns (clowns without borders) spent more than a week in Lesbos cheering the refugee children who barely reached the seashore safely.

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Sabine Choucair's photo.




November 2015

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