Adonis Diaries

Archive for May 2016

After Surviving Aegean Sea, Syrian Swimmer Hopes For Spot In Olympics

She had to swim to flee the war. Now she’s swimming to compete in the next Olympics

Yusra Mardini visits the Olympiapark Berlin on March 9. The 18-year-old Syrian refugee hopes to qualify for the Rio Olympics as a swimmer on the refugee team. Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images for IOC hide caption

Last summer, Yusra Mardini was swimming through the Aegean Sea in a last-ditch attempt to survive a perilous sea crossing from Turkey to Greece.

This summer, she hopes to swim in the Olympics.

Mardini is one of 43 refugees who are vying for the opportunity to compete at Rio as a part of the first-ever “Refugee Olympic Athletes” team.

In a video released by the International Olympic Committee, the 18-year-old Syrian refugee says it was difficult maintaining her athletic training during Syria’s war. Trainings were canceled — or held at pools that were then struck by explosives. She describes looking up at the roof over a pool and seeing the sky through holes blown by bombs.

She had to swim to flee the war. Now she’s swimming to compete in the next Olympics

Mardini fled her home in Damascus with her sister Sarah. The Associated Press describes their journey:

“The sisters left Damascus in early August, joining a wave of Syrian refugees who lost hope of the conflict ending soon. They made their way to Lebanon and then Turkey, where they paid smugglers to take them to Greece.

“Their first attempt was thwarted when Turkish coastguards drove their boat back so they tried again, boarding a small inflatable dinghy at dusk. There were 20 people crowded onto the boat, all but three of whom couldn’t swim. Within half an hour, the boat was taking on water.

“All the passengers’ bags were thrown overboard in an effort to stay afloat as wind churned up the Aegean Sea. But it wasn’t enough. As a last resort, Yusra, Sarah and another strong swimmer jumped into the water to give the boat more buoyancy.”

They spent 3 1/2 hours in the water before reaching Lesbos. It was awful, Yusra Mardini says, and left her with a hatred for the open sea.

But it didn’t destroy her love of swimming

Mardini and her sister traveled through Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary and Austria before reaching Germany. There, the two of them were connected with a local swimming club.

Mardini has been training for the past five months, hoping to qualify for the Olympics.

In the video released by the IOC, Mardini says she didn’t want to sit around and cry.

“It’s tough. It was really hard, for everyone, and I don’t blame anyone if they cried. But sometimes you just have to move on,” she says.

She’s proud to be a refugee, she says: “My sister, when she wants to encourage me, says, ‘Show them the refugee, what she will do.’ ”

But she’s more focused on being an athlete.

“In the water,” she says, “there is no difference if you are a refugee or a Syrian or German.”

All told, 43 athletes are aiming for a spot on the refugee team.

The IOC has identified Mardini and two others: Raheleh Asemani, an Iranian taekwondo fighter living in Belgium, and Popole Misenga, a judo competitor from Congo training in Brazil. You can read about all three in The Guardian.

Mid-30s females who hate being told in lack of happiness

“Mid-30s, female, single, no children and living in the western world:

I’ll tell you what I’m really missing. What I’m really missing is a society that stops telling me what I lack in happiness.”

It was a glorious day. In fact, it was so glorious that I couldn’t help but wonder whether I’d accidentally gate-crashed a film set.

The warm spring sun was shining, the flower arrangements were delicately fitting. And my friend simply looked stunning. In her wedding gown. She seemed so happy. And I was so happy for her.

Just before the ceremony was about to start, I lined up with my friends at the bar to get some bubbly. I started chatting to another guest. We talked about how we got to know the bride, and how beautiful the venue was. Then suddenly she asked: “So where did you get married?”

I said: “I’m not married.”

You know that split second when someone hesitates in responding to something you said? As if you just told them you kill kittens for a living? Yeah, that. She gave me that.

And then she just went: “Oh.” And wandered off.

And I was left standing there, prosecco in hand, stunned.

Then I realized I had a problem. A huge problem. I’m in my mid-30s. But I’m not married. And I don’t have kids. So far I haven’t felt so bad about that… But maybe I was wrong.

I realize I should probably sound more apologetic when I tell people I’m not married.

Perhaps I should try a bit harder to make those around me less embarrassed when they meet me. I’m a disgrace. I’m a single lady. I was about to get drunk on lots of prosecco. I’m always the wedding guest — not the bride. And I don’t even own a cat.

What is the world to do with me? What shall I do with myself?

At the time, I just shrugged and went back over to my friends. I told them about the “oh” incident, and we laughed about it.

But the next day, with the wedding over and the world appearing without that romantic filter again, I got angry.

Because that “oh” wasn’t just the careless “oh” of some thoughtless person. No. It was a little more. It was not the first time I — or some of my girlfriends — had come across that “oh.” We’ve all heard it plenty of times. That slightly muted expression of pity, of concern: She’s not married? What is wrong with her?

Let’s see. I’m happy. Some days more than others. But I’m generally happy.

Never before in my life have I so truthfully felt that way. What a gift. Also: I’m healthy. And I feel loved. My family is there for me. Always. I have good friends who would do anything for me, as I would for them.

I like my job. I enjoy what I do every day. Some days more than others. And I meet men. I go on dates.

I enjoy this. Some days more than others. I’m in sync with my age. I’m grateful for all the experiences I’ve had — good and bad. I feel like a stronger woman because of them.

(Not many married females can boast a couple of these privileges)

Dare I say it? There’s probably nothing seriously wrong with me.

But thinking this through, I’m realizing I might actually have a problem after all — albeit a different one than people think.

I do in fact have a problem with people assuming that there is something wrong with me. Because these are mostly people who blatantly do not live up to their own standards.

Many of us like to see ourselves as very liberal people.

We accept sexual relationships before marriage; we admire independent and successful women. We know that you can have kids well beyond the age of 40. We fought for same-sex marriage.

We know that monogamous relationships are not the be-all and end-all of a life filled with love.

We know that “forever and ever” should maybe not be taken too literally in a country that has high divorce rates.

We are accepting — and in fact, encouraging — of so many different lifestyles, like never before. Which is great. Would anyone wish to live in another decade? Didn’t think so.

Yet we still have a problem with unmarried women. (And worse with unmarried man)

Because a society in which an unmarried woman in her 30s seems worthy of an astonished “oh” suddenly doesn’t seem so liberal after all. Which makes me wonder how liberal we really are towards all these different lifestyles.

When that wedding guest gave me that pitiful look, I could almost sense her scanning me for some fault. What’s wrong with her, she seemed to be checking.

Nothing’s wrong with us single ladies. We are fabulous — that much Sex and the City has taught us. And being fabulous has nothing to do with being in a relationship or not.

A relationship, a marriage even, is not the ne plus ultra of all lifestyles. On the contrary: I’ve never been as unhappy as I’ve been in an unhappy relationship. Loneliness in pairs is the worst kind of loneliness.

Mid-30s, female, single. I’ll tell you what I’m really missing. What I’m really missing is a society that stops telling me what I lack in happiness. This, it seems to me, is the true problem.


Fighting for the Man; (October 9, 2009)

Food aplenty for the few:

They are addicted to junk food.

Leftovers for the leftover of humanity;

Delicious: hungry


Fighting for the traits, given and wanted traits,

Thriving for characters of the beyond;

Fighting for the provocation of the ambient collective;

The objective environment and the living one;

The ambient social, psychological, and family;

Fighting for the Man.


Toys aplenty for the few;

They are addicted to one-on-one machines.

Leftovers for the leftover of humanity;

A piece of paper and threads gets kites flying high; smiles even higher;

A couple of sticks get a team running and laughing;

An old makeshift ball got kids gamboling and shrieking with joy.


Fighting for the society of objects;

The historical environment, of body and soul;

The cosmic belonging, the instinctive thrust;

The defense of the ego and the taste to live;

The denying and utilization of the other;

Fighting for the Man.


Vaccines and antibiotics for the few;

Open heart surgery for the few;

They got to be ninety and end up in nursing homes;

Alone: the refuse of humanity.

Leftovers for the leftover of humanity;

Barely first generation antibiotics;

They don’t get to live long;

Their young memory didn’t erase the fresh good time.

They die within their community and among parents.


Fighting for the nutritional instinct, sexuality,

The race, age, gender, and life;

Variations in metabolism, language of the forms,

The sick body and the domesticated body;

The presence and ascendancy of the other;

Fighting for the Man.


Spaces and green horizons for the few;

They are addicted to tiny cubicles in overcrowded megalopolis.

Leftovers for the leftover of humanity;

Wind, dust, eroded land, dry earth,

A shade under an old resilient tree out in the nowhere;

A trickle of water of a drying source;

Crying babies, skeletal babies, over-stretched stomachs;

And white carcasses dotting the parched landscape.


Fighting for the emotive duality, the emotive matrix,

The emotive root of characters;

Getting a grip on the conscious, rhythm, perseverance;

Space and living duration;

The I, here, and now; in extension, in tension, and in intention;

Generosity and avarice;

Fighting for the Man.


Homes, gardens, and highways for the few;

They are addicted to driving and drinking.

Leftovers for the leftover of humanity;

Trekking for hundreds of miles; bare foot, crackling skin,

Sore dried up eyes;

To reach one of those Blue Tents

Erected and tended by romantic hearts.


Fighting for accepting reality;

Refusing reality, imaginary refusal;

The real, irrational and the surreal;

Carnal intelligence, dramatic intelligence,

Dialogue, rational arguments, democracy, discrimination,

The master action, the power of deciding,

The struggling with obstacles,

The greatness and misery of the will;

Fighting for the Man.


A car accident, a mugging,

A child left unattended, locked in a car,

A dog, a cat, an iguana for the few.

One million widowed, two millions disappeared,

Three millions refugees,

Four millions disabled in pre-emptive wars,

To depose a dictator here, a tough-minded leader there;

Five millions orphans, dislocated institutions and social fabrics;

Fifty thousands incarcerated:

Potential terrorists, with no hope for legal due processes,

For the leftover of humanity.


Fighting for the moral character, the moral act,

The religious expression of moral limitation;

Comprehending the Man is a science;

Far more complex and exhilarating

Than inanimate physical sciences;

You don’t need to be neutral in human behavioral sciences,

Just be plainly unbiased.

You don’t need to be odorless and insipid in social sciences;

I have got to be fighting for the Man!

Fallujah siege: ‘Families are surviving on dried dates and river water’

After two years of occupation by armed military groups, Iraqi forces have launched a major push to retake the city of Fallujah. Becky Bakr Abdulla from the Norwegian Refugee Council tells of the families caught up in the conflict

The first thing that struck me was the silence.

On Tuesday, as I entered Al Iraq, a displacement camp in Amiriyat Al-Fallujah and the nearest to the besieged city of Fallujah, no one was outside their tents. As fighting raged just 30km away between armed opposition groups and the Iraqi military, it was strangely quiet.

Andrew Bossone shared this link

I can’t imagine living in war under siege. It must be miserable.

Becky Bakr Abdulla from the Norwegian Refugee Council tells of the families caught up in the conflict|By Holly Young

The camp shelters some of the few families who have managed to escape the fighting in the city that has been under armed opposition groups control for the last two years. On Monday, as the Iraqi military began an offensive in the city, the atmosphere in our office in Baghdad became particularly tense, as the already dire humanitarian situation became critical.

Staff shared the latest scraps of news. Some became particularly anxious about their friends and family among the estimated 50,000 civilians still trapped in the city. (of 250,000 before the events)

The families I met were in a state of shock and spoke about the ordeal of their escape. They were among the 21 families in Al Iraq camp, out of approximately 114 who we believe have escaped the city so far.

One woman, whose family was told by armed opposition groups that they would be shot if they tried to flee, waited until night-time to make a move. They removed their shoes and sandals so they were not heard as they started running.

Mohammed (sitting up) told us: “My feet were very painful and tired after having to run all night”
Mohammed (sitting up) told us: ‘My feet were very painful and tired after having to run all night.’ Photograph: NRC/Becky Bakr Abdulla

Nine-year-old Mohammed told me how, once outside his house, he ran for hours until his feet were in pain. He escaped alongside 16 or 17 other families, with one person in front checking that the coast was clear of fighters and planted explosives.

Once these families reached the checkpoint leading out of the town they waved white flags made of cloth to prevent them from being shot. After that they kept moving, 30km on to the Al Iraq camp.

Many others have not been so lucky. I’ve just heard the news of one father trying to escape while carrying his two sons in his arms. He stepped on an IED planted on the outskirts of the city. All three were killed immediately.

NRC is present in Al Iraq camp in Amiriyat Al- Fallujah, Anbar providing displaced families from Anbar and Fallujah with water, food parcels and hygiene kits.
NRC is present in Al Iraq camp in Amiriyat Al- Fallujah, Anbar providing displaced families from Anbar and Fallujah with water, food parcels and hygiene kits. Photograph: NRC/Becky Bakr Abdulla

Those I met at the camp were filled with relief. Although it is located in Anbar province, which is still not a completely safe area, one woman I spoke to was so happy to be “safe”. She told me how much she loved her new house and how she never wanted to leave – bearing in mind her new house is a 20 sq ft refugee tent. Many said they are just happy to be able to eat and sleep again.

Others find it difficult to talk about their recent experiences under siege in Fallujah, where there has been no access for humanitarian aid since December.

For the vulnerable people in real need of aid, the situation is increasingly critical. One woman who escaped on Monday told me there is nothing left in the city – no food, no electricity and no fuel. Her family had largely survived on dried dates and water from the river.

She also told us that people were starving to death and that some had started to commit suicide, although with no access to the city we are unable to verify this yet.

One mother, she said, had drowned herself and her two children rather than slowly die of hunger.

One family, that escaped on Monday, only managed to bring with them two towels, one bag with their ID’s and the clothes on their bodies.
One family, that escaped on Monday, only managed to bring with them two towels, one bag with their ID’s and the clothes on their bodies. Photograph: NRC/Becky Bakr Abdulla

Those I spoke to in the camps had little idea of what was going on in the wider city while they were under siege. Telephone lines are bad so it is difficult to contact others, and many had stopped leaving the house. Children have stopped going to school. They lived with shooting on their doorsteps.

One women told me she lived in a constant state of panic. Now they have escaped there is no way of contacting those they have left behind.

For now, our priorities are to get food parcels, water and hygiene kits to the families who have managed to escape. But the situation is deteriorating rapidly, and access to the people in need is a huge challenge.

We are among the few humanitarian agencies here and although we still have some staff at the displacement camps, we have now been put under curfew so our teams in Baghdad are unable to join them.

As the fighting intensifies the window for people to escape is getting smaller and smaller. There are no safe routes out of the city.

The situation in the camp is very dire indeed, but my main worry is for the 50,000 people still in Fallujah. We know so little about what is going on inside the city.

It is frustrating that we are only 30km or so away from those in need, ready to assist them with emergency aid, and yet there is little we can do for them. I strongly urge all parties to the conflict to secure safe exits for the civilian population of Fallujah.

Becky Bakr Abdulla is the media coordinator in Iraq for the Norwegian Refugee Council.

In praise of Macro-finance in Africa?

In this talk, financier Sangu Delle questions whether microfinance — small loans to small entrepreneurs — is the best way to drive growth in developing countries.

“We seem to be fixated on this romanticized idea that every poor person in Africa is an entrepreneur,” he says. “Yet, my work has taught me that most people want jobs.”

Delle, a TED Fellow, makes the case for supporting large companies and factories — and clearing away the obstacles to pan-African trade.

Sangu Delle Investor. He is an entrepreneur and clean water activist. A TED Fellow who hails from Ghana, he sees incredible potential in the African economy. Full bio

Speech filmed in Oct. 2014

Patsy Z and TEDxSKE shared a link.

Traditional prescriptions for growth in Africa are not working very well. After one trillion dollars in African development-related aid in the last 60 years, real per capita income today is lower than it was in the 1970s.

(Successive pre-emptive civil wars fomented by the colonial powers all over Africa insured the total reliance of Africa on the export trades of these countries and robbing the raw mineral at the lowest of prices)

Aid is not doing too well.

0:32 In response, the Bretton Woods institutions — the IMF and the World Bank — pushed for free trade not aid, yet the historical record shows little empirical evidence that free trade leads to economic growth.

The newly prescribed silver bullet is microcredit. We seem to be fixated on this romanticized idea that every poor peasant in Africa is an entrepreneur. (Laughter) Yet my work and travel in 40-plus countries across Africa have taught me that most people want jobs instead.

My solution: Forget micro-entrepreneurs.

Let’s invest in building pan-African titans like Sudanese businessman Mo Ibrahim. Mo took a contrarian bet on Africa when he founded Celtel International in ’98 and built it into a mobile cellular provider with 24 million subscribers across 14 African countries by 2004.

The Mo model might be better than the everyman entrepreneur model, which prevents an effective means of diffusion and knowledge-sharing.

Perhaps we are not at a stage in Africa where many actors and small enterprises leads to growth through competition.

Consider these two alternative scenarios.

One: You loan 200 dollars to each of 500 banana farmers allowing them to dry their surplus bananas and fetch 15 percent more revenue at the local market. Or

Two: You give 100,000 dollars to one savvy entrepreneur and help her set up a factory that yields 40 percent additional income to all 500 banana farmers and creates 50 additional jobs.

We invested in the second scenario, and backed 26-year-old Kenyan entrepreneur Eric Muthomi to set up an agro-processing factory called Stawi to produce gluten-free banana-based flour and baby food.

Stawi is leveraging economies of scale and using modern manufacturing processes to create value for not only its owners but its workers, who have an ownership in the business.

Our dream is to take an Eric Muthomi and try to help him become a Mo Ibrahim, which requires skill, financing, local and global partnerships, and extraordinary perseverance.

But why pan-African? The scramble for Africa during the Berlin Conference of 1884 — where, quite frankly, we Africans were not exactly consulted —  resulted in massive fragmentation and many sovereign states with small populations: Liberia, four million; Cape Verde, 500,000.

Pan-Africa gives you one billion people, granted across 55 countries with trade barriers and other impediments, but our ancestors traded across the continent before Europeans drew lines around us.

The pan-African opportunities outweigh the challenges, and that’s why we’re expanding Stawi’s markets from just Kenya to Algeria, Nigeria, Ghana, and anywhere else that will buy our food.

We hope to help solve food security, empower farmers, create jobs, develop the local economy, and we hope to become rich in the process. While it’s not the sexiest approach, and maybe it doesn’t achieve the same feel-good as giving a woman 100 dollars to buy a goat on, perhaps supporting fewer, higher-impact entrepreneurs to build massive businesses that scale pan-Africa can help change this.

The political freedom for which our forebearers fought is meaningless without economic freedom. (They go hand in hand)

We hope to aid this fight for economic freedom by building world-class businesses, creating indigenous wealth, providing jobs that we so desperately need, and hopefully helping achieve this.

Africa shall rise.

Tom Rielly: Sangu, this is strong rhetoric. You’re making 100 percent contrast between microcredit and regular investment and growing regular investment. Do you think there is a role for microcredit at all?

5:22 Sangu Delle: I think there is a role. Microcredit has been a great, innovative way to expand financial access to the bottom of the pyramid. But for the problems we face in Africa, when we are looking at the Marshall Plan to revitalize war-torn Europe, it was not full of donations of sheep.

We need more than just microcredit. We need more than just give 200 dollars. We need to build big businesses, and we need jobs.

Senior Fellow Mouin Rabbani: “Ignore Palestine At Your Peril”

Palestinian Abandonment

The main impression I got – in a variety of rural areas and also in Ramallah and Jerusalem – was how severely abandoned the average Palestinian and Palestinians collectively feel by their own leadership, their own political movements, by the Arab states and increasingly by the Arab people as well.

And abandoned by the international community.

Broadly speaking, a sense that no one is in anyway interested in the Palestinian issue anymore, let alone seriously cares about even seeing it resolved.

And this to a large extent explains what we’ve been seeing on the ground for the last six months or so – individual actions, often by young teenagers, overwhelmingly disconnected from and unconnected to any organizational structure or even a clear political agenda and many of these initiatives, or attacks, are not even connected to each other.

An act of desperation by members of the people who are being slowly, overwhelmingly crushed right before the eyes of the whole world and in which no one seems in the least interested in doing something about it.

Andrew Bossone shared this link
 telling hard truths
Institute for Palestine Studies Senior Fellow Mouin Rabbani spoke to Palestine Square on developments on the ground in Palestine after his recent trip to the West Bank and Jerusalem. Palestinian Ab…

The other aspect is of course the Israeli occupation, today being perpetuated by an Israeli government that seems to be growing more extreme by the day, to the extent that even the regular rights and privileges that Israeli citizens, particularly Israeli Jews, have enjoyed are being significantly eroded so you can only imagine what this means for Palestinians.

And a government that seems to being getting more extreme, more violent, more expansionist by the day. The pattern seems to be that the more extreme it becomes the more impunity it enjoys and the less accountable its actions are being held by anybody.

Failure of the Palestinian Leadership

The Palestinian Authority has no vision, no agenda, no aspiration, and no objective whatsoever. No vision apart from remaining in power from one day to the next.

The disconnect between people and leadership is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, particularly when you consider this is supposed to be a national liberation movement. A leadership that, at best, has nothing but total contempt for its own people.

Not even fear of its people as in seeing them as an obstacle to its own agenda. But real and total contempt. (As if the backing of the US and Israel immune it from the reactions of the Palestinians)

To give one example, when you’ve had these periodic Israeli assaults on the Gaza Strip, the leadership in Ramallah sends its security forces into the streets to break up demonstrations which were neither organized by Hamas nor organized to expressly support Hamas.

But, rather, organized in solidarity with the residents of Gaza who are being bombed by Israel’s air force. And these are demonstrations that are taking place Not on the boundaries between areas of Israeli and Palestinian control where you could make an argument, however inappropriately, that the Palestinian security forces are intervening to prevent clashes and Palestinian casualties.

These are peaceful, civil demonstrations organized in the very heart of Palestinian urban centers and they are attacked at a time when there’s an Israeli assault on the Palestinian people in the context of an Israeli occupation.

I wouldn’t single out the Palestinian Authority.

One can equally make the same argument about the Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip. As for the prospect of reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas I don’t think this will happen anytime soon.

Both parties are fundamentally committed to preventing it because they feel they have more to lose by reconciliation than they have to gain.

Creeping Annexation of the West Bank?

Israel’s policy in the West Bank has always been characterized as one of creeping annexation. And that’s basically because the Israeli government in 1967 – with the exception of East Jerusalem and its surroundings – took the decision that it was for a variety of reason unprepared to simply annex the West Bank but nonetheless wanted to permanently control it.

Over the past half century, Israel has expanded its physical control and settlement territory on an incremental basis and that has now been continuing at an accelerating pace.

Whole areas of the West Bank, although not formally annexed, are now functionally part of Israel in their governance, demography, infrastructure and so forth. We’re talking about a process of creeping annexation.

And there are now increasing calls not just from the militant fringe in Israel but from senior members of the Israeli government for the outright formal annexation of at least most of Area C if not the West Bank in its entirety.

And you look at those who appointed themselves the sponsors of the so-called peace process and they basically look the other way. See no evil. Hear no evil.

And above all speak no evil. And if there’s one thing the Israelis are learning from the international community is that they have virtual impunity and that there will be no accountability for their actions.

End of Two-State Settlement?

Many people who say the two-state settlement has failed are people who were formally committed to a two-state settlement and believed that Oslo was the great hope for achieving that.

When Oslo didn’t produce that outcome they became disillusioned not only about Oslo but its purported objective as well.

If you reject a two-state settlement as a matter of principle that’s one thing. But if you reject it because you believe it has been tried and failed, my response would be there’s no evidence that it has been seriously attempted, least of all in the context of the Oslo agreements.

And if you’re then going to start saying it’s no longer feasible because of the number of settlements, settlers etc.,  these are matters of politics not of physics. And in politics these things can always be changed and transformed and reversed by mustering sufficient political will and resources.

It can of course be substantially more difficult under one set of circumstances than the other, but there’s no evidence it cannot be done.

Palestine Always Returns

While Israel is committed to perpetual occupation and the international community has basically taken a collective decision to not confront Israel, I nevertheless remain convinced – and this has nothing to do with a personal inclination toward optimism or pessimism – that this reality cannot and will not be indefinitely sustained, and that it will not be resolved by the Palestinian people rolling over and playing dead.

If the current Palestinian leaderships – and I use the plural advisedly – are unable to get their act together and more effectively serve the interests of their people, I am confident they will in due course be replaced by people who do have that commitment.

This Palestine question is not going to go away as a major regional and international issue. It is a cause which has maintained an existential hold on Arab identity.

It is in my view also only a matter of time before the international community is compelled to focus on Palestine once again. It’s important to stress that this is not a particularly comforting prognosis if you go to some obscure village in the Hebron region which is being literally crushed under the weight of Israeli bulldozers and settler violence and  reassure these people “I’m sure your issue will return to the regional and international agenda.”

Part of the problem has to do with the governments we have in the region.

We see this phenomenon of normalization that has extended beyond those that have formal peace treaties with Israel. In the past it used to be limited, at least publicly, to Egypt and Jordan and even then it was largely a cold peace. We will see a shift back to the Palestine problem, but it can take time and depends on how developments proceed within the region.

In the end, you ignore Palestine at your peril.

Interview conducted by Khelil Bouarrouj

Posted on: May 27, 2016

Clara from Nigeria:

Smiling for Three (Dec. 2002)

Dedicating this song to Clara

She responded to my numerous ads in a few of the Real Estates magazines.

I used to advertise myself as “Dr. Adonis” since I earned a PhD in 1991 in Industrial Engineering.

This story is taking place around 1999.

My odd ads occasionally generated calls for healing the sick people.

Clara actually wanted to buy herself an apartment.

She could secure a loan for a $100,000 property. She knew her limits, but a palace would be far nicer.

Clara hired me to help her buy her first real dream.

Clara is from Nigeria, living in the USA, working for an International organization.

She is beautiful, in her thirties, a young single mother raising a 10-years old boy.

We toured two dozen properties together, mostly in her car, and we wrote a dozen failed offers.

Finally, she managed to move in, in my first choice of a neighborhood, which she refused to consider 6 months ago.

When we signed the deal she was ecstatic and I was happy for a hard job done.

Clara liked me very much and stuck with me during these depressing successive failures.

Four years later, I remembered her and I am dedicating this song to Clara.

You know Clara; I am more independent than most men.

I am single, with no children to care for.

One meal suffices and I am not picky with food.

No mortgage to pay.

You are single too, but you have a kid.

You have to work for two.

You have to worry for two.

You have to be scared for two.

A woman, with a child and no family support, emigrating from modern Africa.

A harsh life there, but still a harsher life here in the USA.

You know Clara; you still have more life than me.

If you smile, you are smiling for two.

When you are happy, you are happy for two.

When you laugh, you are laughing for two.

Not often.

But how could my feelings come close?

You said: I don’t mind working, worrying, and fearing for more than two people.

I would like, one more time, to be happy.

I want to smile and laugh for three.

What can Google tell us about Middle East conflicts?

Many countries across the Middle East and North Africa have been, for a long time now, struggling with political instability and on-going wars that seem to have no end.

Throughout the years, international coverage has Not been very consistent. However, with the rise of the Internet, that has changed.

Although the rise of digital media has given consumers access to global news coverage, media outlets often fail to deliver news objectively.

People are not all oblivious to the fact that the media is not always 100 percent objective, which is why they have resorted to Google for more detailed information.

As Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Palestine and Libya continue to struggle to keep a stable ground, here’s what people have been searching|By Leyal Khalife

70 years of independence of the Jordanian Kingdom?

What kinds of independence and from whom?

The British mandate created this Kingdom, as a buffer zone with the rest of the neighboring States with Israel.

Even before the Saud tribe, bolstered with the Wahhabi Islamic brand of sect, invaded and conquered Mecca and ousted the Hashemite tribe, England had already appointed 2 of the Hashemite prince as kings in Jordan and Damascus.

Faisal of Damascus was reappointed king of Iraq after the Syrian defeated the French mandated power.

 Leyal Khalife. May 25, 2016 . More posts by author

Seventy years ago on May 25, the Emirate of Transjordan became the “Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan” under the Treaty of London, in which Jordan finally gained its independence. (Which States discussed this Treaty?)

It later became the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in 1949, the name it holds today.

Let us look at 7 things you may have not known about the kingdom.

1. The kingdom is named after the Jordan River, and was Arabized into “Al Urdun” after the Crusader rule of Jordan

Photo source: Wikipedia

Photo source: Wikipedia

2. “Hashemite” comes from the house name of the ruling family in Mecca before the Saud tribe occupied Mecca with the support of England and the USA

3. The lowest land point on Earth is Jordan’s Dead Sea

Photo source: Wikipedia

Photo source: Wikipedia

4. Nabateans, nomadic Arabs, established Petra as their capital; the Greeks founded new cities in Jordan including Amman, Jerash, Umm Qays, Tabaqat Fahl and Irbid

(Many of these cities existed before the Seleucia Greek empire over Syria)

5. Jordan has one of the oldest Christian communities in the world and Christians made up 20 percent of the population in 1950

(The Israeli planted land mines, still existing, so that the Jordanian cannot visit these sites)

Photo source: Wikipedia

Photo source: Wikipedia

Jordan is part of the Holy Land, being home to several biblical attractions including Al-Maghtas ruins, the place where the baptism of Jesus is believed to have occurred.

6. Although May 25 is the day of celebration for independence, the mandate for Transjordan officially ended on June 17, 1946

7. Jordan has been home to millions of refugees as early as 1948 with an estimated 2 million Palestinians and 1.4 million Syrian refugees residing in the country


This is an image of a portion of the Zaatari refugee camp, home to approximately 83,000 refugees.

And… just a little bonus:

In 2016, for the first time ever, a Jordanian film, Theeb, was nominated for the 88th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film (I saw the film and was not that impressed)

Note 1: The first appointed king was Abdullah. He had the best trained army by the British and failed to engage the troops in 1948 when Israel entered towns and villages and chased out the Palestinians.

He was assassinated for his collusion with the new Zionist State.

Note 2: Not much to be happy, neither for so-called surprise things in this article, nor how the people in Jordan live. The saddest piece of land.

We Need you to Walk:  The Walk of the Free

There are millions upon millions of Lebanese in the Diaspora.

Since the civil war in 1975, anyone who could borrow money for a plane ticket immigrated.

In the city of Sao Paolo in Brazil there are more Lebanese descendants than all Lebanese citizens.

Many boldly declared that they have cut the bridges and burned the ships, never to return to their homeland, as if infamy was a badge of honor.

This tiny land that was coveted by dozens of Empires for its milk and honey;

this land that exported to the world olive oil, wine, and dried fruit;

this land that built city-States and created the alphabet;

this land that manufactured and roamed the seas and oceans and transacted with every people is reaching bottom.

This land of water and cool sources has no potable water.

International Zionism never relinquished its zeal to bust our doors and sap our energy and determination, even after being defeated twice in less than a decade.

This land that exported highly cultured and educated people is reduced to graduating sectarian, uncouth and poorly cultured new generations that barely can read or write.

We don’t want you to come and talk the talk of the sectarian.

We don’t want you to behave the pessimist and defeatist.

We need you to come and walk the walk of the free;

to experience the harsh life of the brave, to participate in our miseries, to revolt and to change and reform a tiny Nation that led the world for millennia.

You in the Diaspora, you might have earned individual successes, medals, honors, or riches but you can never erase a tiny dot of the huge and ugly blotch that scars your forehead.

As long as your homeland is humiliated, shrivelled, and under-developed among the nations then this scar will be prominent on your forehead and on your descendants’ because you bare a large part of the responsibility for our degradation and instability.

We need you to bolster the fainthearted who dream harder to inflate the rank of the Diaspora.

We need you to come and prevent those hot air arrogant bourgeois from taking away the arms of the steadfast, brave, and resisting patriots.

“Ye, stiff-necked Levantine; ye the uncircumcised in heart, ears, and tongue.

My curses are upon you and your descendants in the Diaspora to the end of time.

Ye, blasphemous Levantine, wizen up;

never dare take my curse lightly!




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