Adonis Diaries

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Umam, la mémoire libanaise de Lokman Slim

Après l’assassinat de l’intellectuel chiite, sa femme, Monika Borgmann, souhaite continuer la mission que le couple s’était fixée.

OLJ / Par Lyana ALAMEDDINE, le 11 février 2021 

Note 1: Monika Borgmann,Chloé Kattar wrote that “The Hangar” was a political decision in order to counter Hezbollah “monopoly” on the kinds of arts and culture prevalent in Al Dahiyat. « Le Hangar, c’était une décision politique, une façon de dire “Ne donnons pas Dahyé uniquement au Hezbollah” », raconte Monika.

Chloé Kattar added: By opening the quarter of Haret Hreik

« En ouvrant à Haret Hreik cet espace culturel qui parle d’arts, qui fait des nuits cinéma et des mini expositions, ils ont répondu à un besoin dans ces régions marginalisées où l’accès à la culture est limité ou monolithique à cause du parti politique dominant. Ils ont offert une alternative », commente Chloé Kattar, qui effectue un doctorat à l’université de Cambridge sur la guerre civile libanaise.

« Vous devriez discuter, vous êtes tous les deux intéressés par les choses morbides. »

C’est cette petite phrase, lancée par l’un de leurs amis en commun, qui est à l’origine de la première rencontre entre Monika Borgmann et Lokman Slim en 2001, au Zico House à Hamra.

Entre la journaliste allemande arabophone et l’intellectuel libanais, « cela a tout de suite été le coup de foudre », confie Monika dans le bureau de son époux, en plein cœur de la banlieue sud, dans la maison patricienne des Slim.

C’est là, dans la villa blanche aux fenêtres et portes vert pastel, « qui a vu passer cinq générations », que le couple a donné naissance à Umam en 2004, une association de documentation et de recherches visant à reconstituer et réconcilier les mémoires libanaises.

Dans les locaux d’Umam, une affiche montrant Lokman Slim. A l’arrière-plan, sa soeur Rasha el-Amir. Photo João Sousa

Umam, c’est avant tout l’histoire de leur rencontre. Celle de deux individus passionnés par la nature humaine, dans ce qu’elle a de meilleur et (surtout) de pire, et par les blessures et les traumas du passé.

« Tout a été très vite entre nous. Nous avons commencé à travailler ensemble, puis nous nous sommes installés ensemble », raconte la cofondatrice de l’association, entourée des livres, objets et cartons qui remplissent la pièce, laissant à peine transparaître les murs.

Dès 2001, le couple se lance dans son premier grand projet, un documentaire sur les massacres de Sabra et Chatila en 1982, racontés par 6 des bourreaux de l’époque.

Massacre“, coproduction libanaise, suisse et allemande, sort en 2005 et remporte plusieurs prix internationaux dont le Fipresci Award Berlin 2005.

« Cette expérience (commencée en 2001) a été le déclic pour créer Umam », explique la journaliste. « Comme le massacre est extrêmement politique, il fallait vérifier toutes les informations venant des tueurs. Dans un pays normal, nous les aurions puisées dans les archives nationales, mais au Liban, nous ne pouvons pas y accéder », poursuit-elle.

C’est là qu’ Umam entre en scène, pour combler un manque lié à l’absence d’institutions publiques dignes de ce nom. L’association est à la fois un outil et un espace de réflexion sur la guerre et la « banalité du mal » qui lui est intrinsèque.

« Nous voulions comprendre cette violence collective : comment en sont-ils arrivés à commettre des actes si inhumains ? » Confronter le passé pour ne plus répéter les mêmes erreurs. « Je fais partie d’une génération qui a grandi avec la mémoire de la Shoah », dit Monika Borgmann.

L’un des objectifs d’Umam : créer des archives accessibles à tous. Photo João Sousa

« Plus nous creusons, moins nous comprenons »

Au départ, deux objectifs : créer des archives accessibles à tous et sensibiliser le public au Liban via des événements culturels pour provoquer des discussions difficiles mais nécessaires.

Au fil des événements (guerre de 2006, affrontements de mai 2008, soulèvement du 17 octobre 2019), Umam endosse un rôle politique et se donne la mission de traiter de sujets d’actualité tout en les liant au passé. « Ce travail de mémoire a montré la complexité de ce pays. Plus nous creusons, moins nous comprenons », analyse Monika Borgmann.

En 2005, le couple fonde le Hangar, un lieu de discussion et de rencontre poussant des gens de tous les milieux à venir dans la banlieue sud pour assister à des tables rondes, expositions, ateliers ou projections.

« Une fois, lors d’un événement, il y avait un cheikh qui faisait sa prière dans une cabine en vitre près de personnes qui buvaient du vin », se souvient Nathalie, assistante chercheuse depuis trois ans à Umam.

« Le Hangar, c’était une décision politique, une façon de dire “Ne donnons pas Dahyé uniquement au Hezbollah” », raconte Monika.

« En ouvrant à Haret Hreik cet espace culturel qui parle d’arts, qui fait des nuits cinéma et des mini expositions, ils ont répondu à un besoin dans ces régions marginalisées où l’accès à la culture est limité ou monolithique à cause du parti politique dominant. Ils ont offert une alternative », commente Chloé Kattar, qui effectue un doctorat à l’université de Cambridge sur la guerre civile libanaise.

Rasha el-Amir, la sœur de Lokman Slim. Photo João Sousa

« Le travail d’archives force à se poser des questions, enclencher des échanges et des réflexions », explique Nathalie, qui travaille sur les archives en lien avec le Studio Baalbeck, ancien cinéma fondé par un Palestinien et ayant fait l’objet d’une exposition dans le Hangar.

En 2010, alors que le bâtiment du cinéma est sur le point d’être démoli, le matériel cinématographique est donné à Umam. Les dizaines de milliers de documents d’archives sont rangés par thématique et ordre chronologique, organisés par l’équipe qui vérifie les pages manquantes, les rangent mais aussi les numérisent partiellement pour les ajouter à la base de données.

Un véritable travail de fourmi qui témoigne de l’exigence dont faisait preuve Lokman Slim. « Je lui demandais “qu’est-ce que tu veux ?” il me répondait “tout” », se remémore une collègue ayant requis l’anonymat.

Cet amour des archives lui vient de sa famille qui collectait depuis toujours des journaux, des brochures, des tracts ou encore des posters.

Monika Borgmann, la femme de Lokman Slim. Photo João Sousa

« Umam était sa défense »

Dans un pays encore marqué par les blessures de la guerre et qui n’est pas allé au bout du processus de réconciliation des mémoires entre les différentes communautés, la tâche du couple était herculéenne. « Ils ont effectué un travail artisanal pour collecter les archives », estime la collègue précité.

Ces archives ne sont pas que des livres, mais aussi des brochures, des interviews, des journaux, des objets tous rangés dans les locaux et ouverts au grand public. « À la fin de la guerre, il y avait une amnésie collective, conséquence directe de la loi d’amnistie : pas de justice, de tribunaux, de dialogue ou d’initiative publique ou privée, et surtout pas de travail institutionnel de la part de l’État, ce qui a empêché une sorte de catharsis.

Aujourd’hui, le travail se fait de façon dispersée et éclatée entre différents acteurs », explique Chloé Kattar. « Le travail de Lokman est fondateur pour reconstruire une histoire orale. Construire une mémoire, c’est se mettre à la place de l’autre pour mieux se pardonner et avancer », résume l’essayiste Mona Fayad.Lire aussiL’assassinat de Lokman Slim réveille le spectre des liquidations politiques

À partir de 2008, l’association prend une nouvelle envergure. « Nous avons lancé une série d’ateliers sur la justice transitionnelle sur une durée de deux ans, accompagnés d’expositions ouvertes au public sur les disparus de la guerre civile. Nous avions commencé avec 25/30 personnes, puis fini avec 80. C’est là que nous avons commencé à gagner en visibilité », raconte Monika Borgmann.

Esprit libre et téméraire, personnage parfois provocateur, Lokman Slim incarnait une sorte de contre-miroir du Hezbollah, qu’il n’hésitait pas à critiquer sur la scène publique et depuis la banlieue sud. Présenté comme un « chiite des ambassades » par les organes de propagande du parti, qui l’accuse d’être un agent à la solde de « l’ennemi américano-israélien », l’écrivain est menacé de mort à plusieurs reprises, avant d’être assassiné le jeudi 4 février dans le caza de Zahrani.

« Umam était sa défense », explique sa sœur, l’écrivaine Rasha el-Amir. « Sa seule arme était la mémoire. Les archives sont une manière de résister contre l’amnésie. On étudie, on réfléchit, on se remémore puis on continue. » Et maintenant ? Comment l’association peut-elle survivre sans celui qui en était incontestablement le cœur ?

« Personne n’est comme Lokman, il comprenait la valeur de toutes ces archives, même d’une simple note, grâce à ses connaissances », estime Monika Borgmann. Elle refuse toutefois de renoncer à la mission qu’ils s’étaient fixée. « Partir ? Jamais. Encore moins après son exécution… Nous croyons en Umam, nous avons un impact… C’est ma vie, c’est vingt ans de travail. Je me le dois. Je le dois à Lokman. Ma place est ici. »

Un rassemblement aura lieu aujourd’hui dans la demeure familiale en mémoire de Lokman Slim. Il sera à son image, cosmopolite : « Des prêtres de toutes les confessions feront une prière pendant trente minutes, il y aura également une sorte de micro ouvert pour permettre aux gens de dire quelques mots sur Lokman, et une séance Zoom pour se connecter à l’étranger, notamment à la Sorbonne, établissement où a étudié Lokman… » explique son épouse. Sur France Culture en 2019, l’écrivain ne doutait pas du fait que son travail lui survivrait. « C’est un travail infini. Nous sommes tout à fait conscients que, finalement, peut-être qu’il va nous survivre, mais, sûrement, nous n’allons pas lui survivre. »

Note 2: Monika Borgmann stated « Je fais partie d’une génération qui a grandi avec la mémoire de la Shoah ». And I am wondering what the memory of the Shoah has to do with supporting this implanted colonial apartheid State of Israel? I would be interested in reading a few of Borgmann articles on how she views Israel policies and what are her opinions and positions on the Return of the Palestinians to their Homeland.

Amid the waning of the humanities, Edward Said turned out to be one of the last literary scholars with a public presence.

Udi Greenberg @udi_greenberg. One of Said’s students

Teaches at Dartmouth College and is the author of The Weimar Century: German Émigrés and the Ideological Foundations of the Cold War (2015).

Note: wordpress is Not opening new texts on my Samsung Chrome in the last month. Maybe I need a better laptop. Untill then, minimal editing on the saved drafts.

Exiles often have conflicting feelings about their adoptive society, and Edward Said was no exception.

As a Palestinian in the United States, he recognized the country’s pervasive racism and violence, but he also knew its educational system made his career as a renowned and prosperous thinker possible.

His life was indeed filled with paradoxes and contradictions. He was one of the twentieth century’s most influential anti-colonial writers, who mostly studied his colonizers’ literature; a proponent of Palestinian liberation who wrote in English and mostly for English-speaking audiences.

Few statements capture his embrace of such tensions more than his surprising claim in an interview with the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz that he was now the only heir to the Jewish tradition of radical criticism.

“I’m the last Jewish intellectual,” he exclaimed. “You don’t know anyone else. All your other Jewish intellectuals are now suburban squires.… I’m the last one.”

Places of Mind: A Life of Edward Saidby Timothy BrennanBuy on BookshopFarrar, Straus and Giroux, 464 pp., $35.00

As comical as this statement can seem, Timothy Brennan’s new biography, Places of Mind: A Life of Edward Said, suggests it captures Said’s unique place in public life: a Middle Eastern exile who provided an original explanation for American imperialism, powerfully condemned it, and successfully reached mass audiences.

By telling Said’s life, from his childhood in British-ruled Palestine to his death in New York in 2003, Places of Mind seeks to explain his unique ability to blend intellectual production and public activism.

Impressively researched and powerfully written, it charts Said’s many triumphs: his revolutionary scholarly writings, which became classics and are taught decades after their publication; his rise as a media celebrity (an unusual fate for an academic); and his role in making the Palestinian national movement a source of international fascination.

For Brennan, who was Said’s student and is an accomplished literary scholar in his own right, his teacher was everything a humanist should be.

By embracing his status as an “outsider”—an exile, a Palestinian, an “Arab”—he successfully infused America’s mainstream with new ideas and political visions.      

Yet by claiming to be a “Jewish” intellectual, Said was doing more than placing himself in the company of giants like Franz Kafka or Theodor Adorno.

What he recognized, and what Places of Mind sometimes misses, was the tragedy of his career: how by his life’s end, the causes for which he fought were ultimately defeated.

The Palestinian liberation movement, whose cause animated so much of Said’s writing, was headed toward ruin (a reality that he was among the very few to realize).

(Fateh, the signatory to the Oslo treaty, was displaced by more radical movements in Gaza, and currently a new wave of reactions from every mixed towns and villages in the West Bank)

And the humanities, whose flourishing made his career possible, were entering a downward spiral from which they show no sign of recovery. Reflecting on Said’s life is not only a chance to celebrate groundbreaking achievements: It is also an invitation to recognize, soberly, some of our era’s heartbreaking misfortunes.  


Colonialism is a brutal business, and this was certainly true of British rule in the Middle East and mandated France in Syria and Lebanon. Whenever locals protested the empire’s authority, as Palestinians did during the so-called “Great Revolt” of 1936 to 1939, British troops responded by demolishing entire neighborhoods, imprisoning thousands of civilians in concentration camps, and putting hundreds to the gallows.

(The British had to dispatch 100,000 troops to squash this civil disobedience movement that had a source the refusal of the British to have municipal elections on the ground that the Jews constituted only 20%)

Like many other colonialists, however, the British also sustained their rule in the region by offering alluring opportunities to some of their subjects. Those willing to cooperate could gain access to British markets, find jobs in the colonial bureaucracy, and send their children to European-run schools. These were the carrots that Europe’s “civilizing mission” dangled in front of its subjects’ noses: Submit to us, colonialists promised, embrace our language and culture, and maybe, one day, some of you would control your own fate.

This was the duality that made the young Said. Born in British-ruled Jerusalem in 1935, much of his childhood took place in the shadow of the Palestinian national trauma. While his parents, Hilda and Wadie, rarely talked politics at home, other relatives often protested their people’s fate. The price of political oppression was even more apparent once British troops were replaced by the armed forces of the Jewish Yishuv, which decimated the Palestinian national movement.

In 1947, Said’s parents fled to Cairo, which rapidly became home to many hungry and dispossessed Palestinian refugees. At the same time, colonialism helped cushion the Saids from some of this brutality. Not only were they affluent merchants, but they also benefited from being Anglican, a tiny minority that enjoyed preferential treatment by British authorities. Said’s father supplied office materials to the British (which ran the formally independent Egypt), and Said was sent to study in the elite schools of British missionaries.

Nothing demonstrated colonialism’s contradictory imprint on his family more than his regal first name, Edward, which his mother chose because she admired the Prince of Wales—a fact that Said bemoaned his entire life. 

When Said’s parents sent him to the U.S. at age 15, he would find a similar pattern of simultaneous subjugation and inclusion. In his years as a student, first at an elite prep school in New England and then at Princeton, Said was alienated by the other students’ oppressive self-absorption. Almost all white, they were confident in the superiority of their Anglo-Saxon heritage and considered Arab culture primitive.

As he put it in a note uncovered by Brennan, “to be a Levantine” in the U.S. meant “not to be able to create but only to imitate.” At the same time, the postwar U.S. system of higher education provided remarkable opportunities. After Princeton, Said enrolled in Harvard’s graduate program in European literature, and in 1963, he was hired as a professor at Columbia. Ivy League prestige, as it often does, opened many doors, and Said quickly learned how to prosper in the world of U.S. letters.

He published a book on Joseph Conrad, built ties to the New York literary world, and began contributing essays to magazines like The Nation. For all the whiteness and Euro-centrist ethos of American academia, Said cherished his success in it. To his parents’ dismay, he preferred to spend most of his summers in New York, feverishly churning out academic writings.    

These paradoxes of imperial power do not get much attention in Places of Mind, and its first chapters say frustratingly little about the colonial Middle East or the Cold War U.S. This is a missed opportunity, as the similarities between the two systems would later become crucial to Said’s intellectual and political agenda. Most important, both the British and Americans elevated certain minorities (Christians in the Middle East, Jews in the U.S.) to justify their subjugation of others (Muslims under British rule, Black people and other people of color under white U.S. hegemony).

The two cultures also similarly viewed their elites’ culture as universal, a sacred trust they had to bestow upon humanity. Both British and American elites were therefore eager to demonstrate that “outsiders” like Said, who appreciated the brilliance of Western culture, could join their club, as long as they fully assimilated and “overcame” their non-Western origins. It is likely that these parallels informed Said’s later insistence that the U.S. emulated European empires.

And it is clear that his effective navigation in both inspired his later claim that colonialism was not just oppressive but also creative, that hegemonic cultures could possess a certain allure even for their victims.       


Said’s career up to the mid-1960s was headed in a predictable direction. Groomed by and for WASP institutions, he was on the path to become a footnote in their history, yet another scholar who studied the European canon and reproduced elites in his teaching.

But the convergence of two revolutions, one intellectual and one political, soon upended this trajectory. Harnessing their energies, Said went on to produce one of the twentieth century’s most important intellectual events. Be the most
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In its most impressive chapters, Places of Mind reconstructs Said’s participation in these two revolutions. The first was post-structuralism. Under the influence of philosopher Jacques Derrida, a group of French scholars launched blistering attacks on Europe’s intellectual traditions. Even after the Enlightenment, they claimed, Europe remained obsessed with enshrining hierarchies and binaries (between men and women, “primitive” and “civilized”); the most urgent task was to dismantle those.

While Said is not always associated with this school today, he was among the first to embrace it in the English-speaking world.

He took part in the early conferences on post-structuralism in the U.S. and was one of the first to utilize its concepts in his writings. He borrowed especially from Michel Foucault and his provocative depiction of the link between knowledge and power. Artists and thinkers, Foucault claimed, were rarely individuals who challenged authority. Most of the time, they reproduced and reinforced their society’s structures of authority, making them seem natural and even benevolent.

The second project that Said joined, and for which he became especially famous, was the Palestinians’ renewed struggle for self-determination. After the shock of the 1967 war, which initiated Israel’s military rule over large Palestinian territories, Palestinian activists and leaders sought to make their cause the center of international attention. They appealed to international institutions and launched multiple violent attacks on Israel to keep their struggle in the headlines.

While Said had little personal interest in returning to Palestine (by that point he considered his exile a permanent condition), he joined this campaign and quickly became its most prominent international figure.

He published fiery essays that compared the Palestinian struggle to other anti-colonial struggles in Asia and Africa and helped launch organizations that called for an end to the West’s support for Israel. His eloquence and rare status as a Palestinian at the center of U.S. letters made him into an icon. Palestinian politicians and leaders, some of whom he met in person during a prolonged academic stay in Beirut, sought his advice; in 1974, he helped edit and translate Yasser Arafat’s historic address to the United Nations, the first by any Palestinian leader in that forum. Three years later, Said became a member of the Palestinian National Council, the coordinating organization of the Palestinian national movement.

Bringing these two projects together was hardly an obvious undertaking. Post-structuralism’s philosophical musings, with its notoriously impenetrable jargon, seemed worlds apart from the blood and sweat of daily Palestinian resistance.

Yet in his monumental Orientalism (1978), Said fused these two projects to provide a new understanding of Western attitudes toward the Middle East. Drawing on his own experiences as a beneficiary and victim of colonialism, Said claimed that Europe’s colonial domination in the Middle East did not rely merely on military or political might. Rather, it was a vast intellectual project, in which countless scholars and novelists voluntarily rushed to explore, interpret, and explain why Europe had to dominate the “Orient.” Said further argued that the Orientalist project was in fact foundational to Europe’s own self-understanding. As Europeans sought to define themselves as rational, industrious, and self-controlling, they simultaneously identified the Orient’s people as emotional, lazy, and pathologically obsessed with sex.Said, in short, exposed how knowledge and art worked in the service of oppressive power.

This claim about colonialism’s centrality to Europe’s identity would have been enough to make Orientalism an intellectual bombshell. But Said went even further, using his literary study to explain the aggression of modern American diplomacy. Said argued that the collapse of formal European empires after World War II did little to diminish the orientalist mindset. Rather, orientalism continued to flourish in the U.S., where journalists, artists, and scholars conflated their country with a “civilization” that they contrasted with the Middle East’s alleged primitivism and fanaticism.

Indeed, Said maintained that U.S. diplomacy in the region, and especially its unwavering support for Israel, reproduced Europe’s earlier racism, arrogance, and myopia. U.S. diplomats and their Israeli allies inherited the view of Arabs as inhuman and thus dismissed their political demands as emotional and even animalistic outbursts. Said’s most scorching invective was directed at Middle East specialists like Princeton scholar Bernard Lewis, whom he acidly described as the intellectual foot soldiers of U.S. imperialism. Their writings about the Arabs’ supposed fanaticism, he wrote in a related essay, provided “not history, not scholarship, but direct political violence.”  

Said, in short, exposed how knowledge and art worked in the service of oppressive power. And in so doing, he forever transformed the meaning of the word orientalist: Rather than a term for a scholar of the Middle East, it now became an adjective describing a racist and paternalist worldview.  


Orientalism’s sweeping claims could hardly leave readers indifferent, and Brennan masterfully traces both the admiration for and backlash to Said’s masterwork. Conservative commentators predictably dismissed Said as an ignorant trespasser who failed to understand the West’s greatness as he downplayed the orient’s failings.

In a lengthy review, Lewis lambasted the book as “insouciant,” “outrageous,” and “reckless,” inaugurating a rhetorical dual with Said that would continue for decades. Even more sympathetic readers highlighted the book’s limitations. Scholars like the French historian Maxime Rodinson noted that Orientalism was far too sweeping in approach. The study of the Orient, he noted, was a diverse field, and many of its proponents hated empire.

Other supportive readers questioned the book’s focus on ideology and representation. Wasn’t colonialism ultimately driven by economic exploitation? The critique that stung the most came from Arab and Pakistani Marxists, who lamented that Said unintentionally strengthened Muslim conservatives. The Syrian philosopher and activist Sadiq Al Azm, for example, argued that by depicting European knowledge as hopelessly tainted, the book “poured cold water” on the effort to popularize Marxist ideas in the Middle East and bolstered lazy anti-Western sentiments. 

These misgivings, however, did little to diminish Orientalism’s impact on the international republic of letters. Appearing in 30 languages, it was widely celebrated as a fresh and sophisticated assault on Western arrogance, one equal to anti-colonial classics like Frantz Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth (1961). “Here for the first time,” Palestinian historian Tarif Khalidi wrote, “was a book by one of us telling the empire basically to go f— itself.” In a world reeling from the manifold disasters perpetrated by the U.S. in Vietnam, understanding the connections between Western self-righteousness and violence seemed more urgent than ever.

Said helped inspire the work of countless literary scholars, philosophers, historians, and political scientists who mapped colonialism’s intellectual legacies in the present. He was the founding figure of what in the 1980s became known as “postcolonial studies.” The impact of this intellectual project spilled beyond academic circles. After Orientalism, theater programs, museum catalogs, and Hollywood films began to adopt less Western-focused perspectives.

According to Brennan, Said in fact infused the humanities with renewed significance. Works like Orientalism and Culture and Imperialism (1993), which expanded its insight to more novels, demonstrated the centrality of literature and art to political discourse. Said turned the traditional Marxist view of culture on its head. He claimed that novels and images were not mere expression of social domination but their very heart; they informed how journalists covered world affairs, how citizens thought about politics, and how politicians enacted policies. Countless students and scholars came to view the study of stories, movies, and representation as political action, and journalists the world over courted Said, endlessly asking for his take on political matters.

Places of Mind’s last chapters trace Said’s rising prominence to the position of celebrity. As a testament to his triumph, they catalog the mind-numbingly abundant prizes and honors he received, describe his never-ending stream of interviews on radio and TV, and depict his collaborations with many famous artists, such as the conductor Daniel Barenboim. Yet along with the rapid ascent came frustration. Said’s publications may have made a splash, but they were unable to materially advance the Palestinian national cause, which suffered defeat after defeat.


For Said, stories were essential to the struggle for Palestinian self-determination. If Americans so enthusiastically lavished Israel with weapons and supported its cruel occupation, he claimed, it was not out of some hard-nosed calculation, but because they bought into a particular narrative, one in which persecuted Jews had heroically defeated their evil Arab neighbors.

According to Said, this story was sustained not only by relentlessly pro-Israel politicians, magazines, and TV shows but by the fact that Americans were rarely exposed to Palestinian perspectives. Said noted that this was true even for those who were deeply critical of Israel’s actions. Noam Chomsky’s Fateful Triangle (1983), for example, condemned U.S. diplomats and Israeli politicians for enabling the horrific massacres of Palestinians in Lebanon, but it, too, relied on Western sources and did not include Palestinian testimonies.

Alongside his campaign against the orientalist tradition, Said therefore launched an effort to open new spaces for Palestinians in the Western imagination. As he wrote in the essay “Permission to Narrate” (1983), the task was to forge “a socially acceptable narrative” that would allow people to empathize with Palestinians and view them as fellow humans. Venturing beyond European literature, Said sought to integrate Arab perspectives into the Western literary canon.

While most of his academic work remained focused on English and French authors, he also began studying Palestinian writers like Mahmoud Darwish and helped facilitate their translation into Western languages. And he collaborated with photographer Jean Mohr on After the Last Sky: Palestinian Lives (1986), a collection of images and short texts that depicted Palestinian people in everyday activities.If Said’s words still resonate today, it is because the evils he helped expose are as powerful as ever.

 Yet readers largely ignored After the Last Sky and similar projects, and most certainly did not lavish it with the prizes and honors that were showered on Orientalism. They were mostly interested in the analysis of the West’s colonialism; oppression’s victims were an afterthought. Said was painfully aware that this part of his work had limited impact, and during the 1980s and 1990s he became progressively despairing about the prospects of Palestinian liberation. “The road forward is blocked,” he ruefully wrote, “the instruments of the present are insufficient, [and] we can’t get back to the past.” His gloom only grew after the Palestinian leadership signed a tentative peace agreement with Israel in 1993 (the so-called Oslo Accords), which Said predicted would not lead to statehood but to deepening occupation. By the end of his life, he was politically isolated; his books were even banned in the Palestinian Authority over his criticism of Yasser Arafat’s authoritarianism.

Said’s high hopes for literary studies—that they would lead the expansion of the world’s political options—also proved fleeting. Said’s career, in fact, was not only a rare exception but also a product of broad intellectual sources. It emerged from the 1970s and 1980s, when debates about the literary canon roiled institutions of higher learning and figures like Paul de Man and Alan Bloom were famous.

But by the early twenty-first century, the humanities began to decline. Students were beginning to abandon them, a trickle that would soon become a flood. In such a world, Said was quickly becoming a monument for a passing era. He was one of the last literary scholars to gain the public’s attention; when he lamented being the “last Jewish intellectual,” he in part recognized he was not likely to be followed by others. His increasing alienation from his adoptive country was reflected in the location of his grave. At his request, it stands not in New York, where he spent most of his career, but in Beirut, where he was only an occasional visitor. 


If Said’s words still resonate today, it is because the evils he helped expose are as powerful as ever. In the two decades since the 2001 attacks, orientalist sentiments have only intensified: Western politicians still treat Muslims and Arabs as fanatical terrorists, and Western media still perpetuate those narratives. As historian Maha Nassar recently noted*, of the thousands of pieces run by The New York Times and The Washington Post on the Israel-Palestinian conflict, barely 1 percent were written by Palestinians.

The grip of orientalism on U.S. knowledge production has in fact only tightened since Said’s passing. In 2002, the historian Daniel Pipes, who began his career with a campaign against Orientalism, founded the organization Campus Watch, which has targeted scholars who express sympathy with Palestinians. The case of Fresno State University in California was probably the most on-the-nose expression of Said’s lasting relevance. In 2016, the university’s leadership posted a job ad for its newly created Edward Said chair in Middle Eastern studies, only to abruptly call off the search by summer of 2017.

Just like his life, Said’s legacy is a paradox. His ideas are relevant exactly because their political impact was limited: The vast campaign he launched in scholarship, the media, and political activism could not dislodge orientalist bigotry. Similarly, Said looms so large in the humanities because a career like his is now hard to imagine. Rather than blazing a path for other literary scholars to become influential political commentators, he turned out to be among the last humanists with a public presence. Those who share in his quest for a more equal and humane world still face the question that always vexed him: If one has a humanist story to tell, how to make others listen? 

British and Zionist terror tactics in Palestine in years in the 1930’s

Posted on November 4, 2011

In the 1920’s, under British mandated power, the Palestinians delivered countless petition to the British administration to conduct democratic elections for municipal and the Parliament, as did the French mandated power in Syria and Lebanon.

The Zionist Jews, in Palestine and their lobbies in England and the USA, blocked any election process, on the ground that since they are in the minority (one Jew to 10 Palestinians), the election would be at their disadvantage.

As England refused to institute democratic laws and representation in Palestine, the Palestinians realized that the mandated power is intent on establishing a Zionist State in part of Palestine.

In Nov. 1935, sheikh Al Qassam and four of his followers moved to the forest of Jenine and started training and preparing for civil resistance.  The British assassinated all of them.

And the “Great Revolt“, as labeled by the British, lasted 3 years. 

The British engaged 100,000 troops to quell the civil insurrection by all means of cruelty and brutality.

A British physician on the field, Tom Segev, wrote in his diary: “The brute tactics used by the British forces and the methods of humiliation could be efficiently adopted by Nazi Hitler.  Nazi Germany could learn and assimilate the British terror tactics on smooth running of concentration camps...”

The British initiated and trained Jewish colons to participate in the taming of the Palestinian civil disobedience.

David Niv, the official historian of the terrorist Zionist organization, the Irgun, wrote in “The campaign of the National Military Organization 1931-37”:

The violent attacks of the Irgun are not done in reaction of those who perpetrated acts of violence against Jews, and the random violence were not conducted in localities where violent acts were done.  

The principal criteria were:

First, the targets must be accessible, and

Second, the terror attacks must kill the maximum of civilian Palestinians…”

In their National Bulletin, the Irgun displayed their satisfaction of the 3-week-long terror attacks on Palestinians, throwing bombs in crowded markets, Mosques, hand grenades in buses, machine-gunning passing trains…

The 3 weeks spree of random violence killed over 140 Palestinians, a number far greater that the Palestinian resistance movement killed in 18 months…

The leader of the Irgun, the Polish Zionist Vladimir Jabotinsky, wrote in 1923:

We must develop the colonies behind a “Wall of Steel”, backed by a protective force that could not be broken.  The Palestinians (labelled Arabs) will never accept any Jewish colony as long as they conserve a slight hope of dislodging it.  A voluntary agreement is not thinkable. We have to resume the colonization process without taking into consideration the humors of the indigenous population...”

David Ben Gurion, leader of the Zionist Haganah organization, rallied to that strategy, though he publicly condemned Jabotinsky fascist methods (Jabotinsky was a staunch admirer of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini)

The terrorist Zionist Stern organization, lead by Menahem Begin and Yitzak Shamir, (both later to be elected Prime Ministers in the 80’s), merged with the Irgun as Ben Gurion proclaimed unilaterally the establishment of Israel in 1948.

The Stern and Irgun and Haganah conducted terror attacks and genocides in many Palestinian towns and villages, forcing the Palestinians to flee: The Palestinians believed the leave will be of short-term duration, as the UN will negotiate their return…

Actually, the Zionist organizations started collecting intelligence pieces on the villages and towns they planned to transfer by terror tactics since 1939.  

They waited for a war to start to give the green light for the execution of detailed plans in 1947, the year England decided to relinquish its mandated power over Palestine.

Note 1 : Article inspired from a chapter in “A history of Lebanon, 1860-2009” by the British journalist David Hirst.  Hirst was the correspondent of the British daily The Guardian in the Middle-East for 43 years.  He was kidnapped twice during Lebanon civil war.

Note 2: The British secret services trained French assassins since 1942 during WW2

Note 3: You may read this link on doctoring reports of random violence by Israel establishment http://www.stoptorture.org.il/files/Doctoring%20the%20Evidence%20Ab

The Ex-Obama White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel case: Father Specialized in Bus Bombings of civilians in Palestine

Posted on January 7, 2016

Wayne Madsen Special to Salem-News.com

Wikipedia deleted the page about Rahm Emanuel’s father in 2008. Makes you wonder.

Irgun, the army of Rahm Emanuel's father, is short for Irgun Zvai Leumi
Irgun, the army of Rahm Emanuel’s father, is short for Irgun Zvai Leumi– “National Military Organization” in Hebrew, was a terrorist Zionist group that operated in Palestine, killing innocent Palestinians and British soldiers; blowing up buildings.

(WASHINGTON D.C.) – Note from Publisher: In an effort to assist our government in keeping information “transparent”, we are publishing this important article by Wayne Madsen, on the father of Rahm Emanuel.

You won’t find his bio on wikipedia, or any where else easily accessed. It has been deleted.

Former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel held a top position in our country’s leadership and his example of ethics and integrity is of the highest importance.

This is not diminished regardless of his aspirations to leave the national spotlight and become the mayor of Chicago.

But, it seems, some secrets must just be harder to share. This revealing article will leave you with a better understanding of why no one wants to talk about Benjamin Emanuel. And why they should.
– Bonnie King

A

well-placed British source informed WMR that Rahm Emanuel’s father, Benjamin Emanuel, specialized in the terrorist bombings of buses carrying British troops and policemen during the British Mandate in Palestine.

British MI-6 files contain information on the elder Emanuel’s participation in the terrorist activities of Irgun Zvai Leumi, a Jewish terrorist organization that targeted British forces, UN officials, and Palestinian Arabs in the lead up to Israeli independence in 1948.


Emanuel’s father Benjamin was part of
the Israeli assassin team that murdered
Sweden’s Count [Folke] Bernadotte in ’48.
Bernadotte was the UN envoy in Palestine
who sought to find a solution to the UN
Partition Plan that gave Palestinian land
to Jews from “beyond the pale.”

Benjamin Emanuel, a Jew from Russia whose real name was Ezekiel Auerbach, was arrested by British police for terrorist activities in the months prior to Israeli independence.

Many of the British policemen killed by Emanuel and his Irgun colleagues between 1947 and 1948 had been transferred to Palestine upon Indian and Pakistani independence in 1947. Irgun saw the increase of British policemen from the Indian subcontinent as a major threat.

The Jewish terrorist murders of British troops and policemen resulted in massive anti-Jewish riots in London, Liverpool, Glasgow, Manchester, and Cardiff in 1947.

In 1946, Emanuel’s Irgun bombed the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, killing 91 people, including 28 British soldiers and policemen.

British intelligence also believed that Benjamin Emanuel may have been related to Vladimir Jabotinsky, a Russian Jew from Odessa who founded Irgun.

Jabotinksy, who was an admirer of Benito Mussolini and who secretly negotiated for the expatriation of Jews to Palestine with the Nazi government in Germany and Admiral Miklos Horthy’s pro-Nazi regime in Hungary, died of a heart attack in New York in 1940.

Wikipedia deleted Benjamin Emanuel’s entry in 2008*, shortly after Rahm Emanuel was designated as President Obama’s chief of staff.

Wikipedia is a favorite device for the perception management goals of Dr. Cass Sunstein, Obama’s director of the White House Office of Regulatory Affairs.

With a record of terrorist acts contained in his MI-6 files, Benjamin Emanuel was permitted by U.S. authorities to emigrate to Chicago from Israel in the 1950s, becoming a citizen. Rahm Emanuel was born in 1959.

*See the original (now deleted) Wikipedia page on Benjamin Emanuel, CLICK HERE.

(Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report. May 13, 2010)

Ziad Abi Chaker wants to replacing stolen metal drain covers with recycled materials that last longer and cost less (and do Not entice the robbers to resume their beneficial enterprises?)

Saving Lebanon’s streets: the engineer with a sustainable fix

Using recycled single-use plastic, the industrial and environmental engineer applies a technique known as extrusion to melt the raw material and form it into the required shape.

In this case, Mr Abi Chaker repurposes plastic waste to make drain covers to replace stolen ones.

Where other people see rubbish, he sees opportunity.

“I’m an industrial engineer, so my job is to find resources for manufacturing,” But I’m also an environmental engineer, so I find these resources among discarded, recyclable material.” Mr Abi Chaker told The National

Mr Abi Chaker makes use of all single-use plastic, such as plastic bags, plastic bottles, food packaging and more, and turns them into long-term sources of raw material to give them a new life.

His line of thinking offers a creative solution to a mounting problem in Lebanon.

Metal theft is becoming increasingly common as the country’s economic situation continues to deteriorate.

The stolen materials are being sold for scrap in US dollars as people grow increasingly desperate to generate income in a country with scarce jobs and a depreciating currency.

Ziad Abi Chaker, Lebanese industrial and environmental engineer and CEO of Cedar Environmental. Courtesy of Ziad Abi Chaker
Ziad Abi Chaker, Lebanese industrial and environmental engineer and CEO of Cedar Environmental. Courtesy of Ziad Abi Chaker

Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces confirmed the increase in these crimes to The National, with at least one person arrested for stealing a drain cover off the streets.

Other recent thefts included steel wires and pylons from power stations, plunging Lebanon further into darkness in March.

Eleven metal graveyard doors were also stolen from a small Lebanese town in Bekaa on April 4, prompting protests against sanctity violation.

Yasa, a Lebanese NGO for road safety, warned of the dangers of missing drain covers after a car got stuck in an uncovered manhole in Jnah, Beirut in April.

But with his simple and sustainable approach, Mr Abi Chaker is saving the environment and the streets.

So far, the engineer has been able to manufacture three manhole covers, with 20 more in the works, out of his own pocket.

Capable of supporting 100 kilogrammes, up to 400kg, they are fit for human and road traffic. He is also producing a cover able to carry up to 800kg.

The first manhole was set to replace a missing lid in the south of Lebanon, while the two others were placed near Beirut River.

According to Mr Abi Chaker, the plastic covers are much more cost-effective than metal ones.

“The human traffic covers are between $20 and $30, while the vehicular ones cost between $40 and $60,” he told The National. “They’re 50 per cent cheaper than steel covers.”

The plastic drain covers are also faster to make, taking two to three days to complete each piece, which is “a record compared to casting iron”.

Although the plastic covers are a highly efficient quick fix, Mr Abi Chaker cannot carry the cost burden on his own.

He is on the lookout for contributions from supporters of the project in the Lebanese community. “It’s the best way to go,” he said.

Beirut Mayor Jamal Itani showed interest in the project, telling The National he is open to receiving a proposal from Mr Abi Chaker team on the details of the initiative to study potential collaboration and methods of implementation.

“Of course we’re interested in an alternative, replacing the metal covers with new metal ones costs a fortune,” he said.

But Mr Abi Chaker would rather secure funds independently from the municipality owing to the urgency of the matter and lack of faith in Lebanon’s officials – a sentiment shared by many who took to the streets in October 2019 against political corruption and mismanagement.

Mr Abi Chaker is working with lawyers to pursue legal action against the municipality for “failing to properly and hastily respond to an imminent danger affecting vehicles and pedestrians of the city”.

Manholes in Lebanon have been coverless for some time after the thefts began during the first quarter of 2021.

Despite the huge risk to pedestrians and vehicles, authorities have yet to take action. The open drains join a long list of malfunctioning public properties, alongside failing traffic lights and low-grade infrastructure.

The manhole covers are not the first initiative by Mr Abi Chaker to take the country by storm.

One of his projects, the Green Glass Recycling Initiative Lebanon, was ranked eighth out of 10 most innovative companies in 2021 for the Europe/Mena region after recycling 125 tonnes of discarded glass after the Beirut port blast.

The August 4 explosion killed more than 200 people, injured more than 7,000 and destroyed large parts of the city, leaving huge piles of shattered glass in the streets.

Instead of discarding the glass in Lebanon’s overrun landfills, the initiative collected the material and provided it to the few remaining glass packaging factories in the northern city of Tripoli, supporting the country’s glass industry and one of the poorest cities in the Middle East.

When asked why he continues to give to a country that does not give back, Mr Abi Chaker said: “When you love someone, do you give up on them in their time of need?

“Our country is afflicted with a disease of the ruling class, and I won’t give up on it now. Even though I was tempted by numerous offers to do the work I do over the world, I love being here, I love the work I do here, I love the impact we make here, I love the people and places here, and this is why I won’t leave.”

READ MORE

German firms unveil $7.2bn proposal to revamp Beirut port

Explained: Why Lebanon has an ongoing trash problem

Why Nadine Labaki believes Beirut blast marks the ‘birth’ of a new world: ‘There’s a revolution inside us’

In two parts: biographies and speeches 

Posted on June 3, 2009

Hezbollah and Nasrallah

Hassan Nasr Allah (Nasrallah) is currently the Secretary General of Hezbollah.  He was born in August 31, 1960 in the poorest section of East Beirut called Nabaa

Hassan was the eldest among 9 offspring and his father supported this vast family selling vegetable. Hassan refrained from playing soccer with the neighboring kids or joining them for a swim; he was deeply religious and admired greatly Imam Moussa Sadr who gave the Muslim Shia sect sense of their pride and potentials in the Lebanese fabrics. 

The regions of predominantly Shias in south Lebanon and in the Bekaa Valley were neglected in the budgets for infrastructure by the central government since the independence in 1943.  

The Imam of the Mosque where Hassan prayed in Nabaa was Mohammad Fadlallah who is presently the highest Imam of the Shia in Lebanon.

At the age of 14, Hassan moved with his family to their home village Bazourieh in south Lebanon. He aided Sheikh Ali Shams el Deen opening a small library of religious manuscripts and Hassan started teaching religion in the village and then finished his high school in Tyr.  

By the age of 15 Hassan joined the “AMAL” movement of Imam Moussa Sadr and was quickly appointed officer of the Bekaa district and then a member of the politburo. 

Sheikh Muhammad Ghrawi facilitated to Nasrallah higher religious learning in Najaf (Iraq). 

Nasrallah met in Najaf with Abbas Moussawi (later the first Secretary General of Hezbollah).  By 1978, and after two years spent in Najaf, Nasrallah returned to Lebanon. 

A couple of months later Imam Moussa Sadr disappeared after a visit to Libya in August 1978 (Believed assassinated by Gaddafi?).

In 1979, Khomeini came to power in Iran and the Shah went to exile. 

The geopolitical condition in the Middle East changed drastically. Iran was now against the USA interests in the region, supported the Palestinian cause, and was the first State to officially allow the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) to open and embassy in Tehran.  

Israel invaded Lebanon in June 1982; the operation was baptized “Peace in Galilee”. 

Israel put siege to Beirut for two months and Yasser Arafat and 11,000 Palestinian fighters left to Tunisia. 

The Lebanese President of the Republic Elias Sarkis invited Nabih Berri (leader of AMAL) to join Walid Jumblatt (Druze leader) and Bashir Gemayel (leader of the Christian Lebanese Forces) to form a national rescue team.

Many AMAL cadres quit Nabih Berri such as Abbas Moussawi, Sobhi Toufaily, Hussein Moussawi, Ibraheem Amin Sayyed, Naeem Qassem, and Nasrallah. 

They created Hezbollah and blew up the US Marines and French barracks in Beirut in 1983. Nasrallah had said that Hezbollah was the consequence of Israel entering Beirut in 1982.

Hezbollah postponed declaring its formation until 1985 after Israel assassinated one of Hezbollah’s leaders Sheikh Ragheb Harb. The Iranian leaders Ali Mohtashami was then the spiritual father of the Party and Muhammad Akhtari the military father.

Hassan Nasr Allah learned from Ragheb Harb the famous dictum “The word is taking a stand and shaking hands is acknowledgement of assent” and thus Harb never shook hands with any Israeli army officers who were trying hard to win Ragheb over to supporting the Israeli occupation of south Lebanon.

In 1987, Nasrallah was appointed member of the highest legislative order in Hezbollah and chairman of the executive branch.  I

n 1989, Nasrallah resumed his religious studies in Qom (Iran) and returned in a hurry to Lebanon when military skirmishes with the AMAL movement spread. 

The AMAL party was executing the orders of the Syrian regime to entering the Palestinian camps and disarming the Palestinians of any heavy arsenal. 

Hezbollah followed the policies of Iran to leave the Palestinian out of harm.  After many months of fighting both parties settled out their differences as Syria and Iran reached a compromise.

Israel assassinated Hezbollah leader Abbas Moussawi in 1992.  

Nasrallah was the closest aid to Moussawi and had extensive contacts with the base, and studied in Qom. 

Hassan Nasrallah replaced Moussawi as Secretary General; he was only 32 of age.  Nasr Allah said: “A movement that witnesses its leader falling martyr can never be defeated”. Hezbollah evolved into a qualitative phase in organization and political acumen.

Israel invaded Lebanon in July 1993 for 7 days under the code name “Settling Accounts” and then re-invaded in 1996 under Shimon Peres (Nobel Peace prize winner! Go figure, he and Menachem Begin the terrorist with Egypt Sadat before him)

This operation of total destruction lasted for 17 days under the name “Grapes of Wrath” and shelled a UN compound in Qana where civilians had taken refuge and over 100 died and 300 were gravely injured.  

Hadi, the eldest son of Nasrallah, fell martyr during a resistance operation in September 1997; twas the night before Nasrallah was to deliver a major speech and he insisted on speaking and said: “In Hezbollah we do not save our children for the future; we honor them when they fight in the front lines against our enemy Israel; we stand tall when they fall martyrs”

Israel had to retreat from all of Lebanon, with the exception of Shebaa Farms and the hills of Kfarshouba in May 24, 2000 without pre-conditions or negotiations. 

The “Arabs” recognized Hezbollah as the main resistance movement that vanquished Israel and acclaimed Nasrallah as the Hero of liberation. 

In the large town of Bint Jbeil Nasrallah delivered the Victory Speech and offered the liberation in the name of all the Lebanese.  Nasr Allah said: “Israel has nuclear arsenals and owns the most lethal air force in the region.  Israel is still much weaker than the spider web” (It was a reference of a spider web on a cave that saved the Prophet Muhammad from being caught by the Quraish tribe of Mecca persecutors while fleeing to Yathreb)

Israel bombarded the villages in south Lebanon in 2003 and then raided Beirut in 2005. 

Israel re-invaded Lebanon in July 2006 for 33 days and failed to achieve any of its proclaimed objectives.  

Nasrallah was recognized as the most charismatic and powerful resistance leader in the Arab and Muslim World.  Nasr Allah played the catalyst for the Shia in Lebanon to participate in projecting the living messages in the symbolism of the Koran verses, and thus be capable of assimilating and accepting changing social and environmental conditions.

According to the famous journalist Seymour Hersh, these “leaders” of Cheney, Elliott Abrams, and Bandar Bin Sultan conspired to finance and whisk the members of Fatah El Islam (Qaeda affiliated) into the refugee camp of Nahr Al Bared with the purpose of destabilizing Lebanon and starting civil war between the Muslim Shias and Sunnis, and thus immersing Hezbollah into a potential civil war.

It didn’t work because the Lebanese army was hurt in its pride after many soldiers were executed by severing their heads in the summer of 2007. 

The Lebanese army lost over 160 soldiers and many hundreds were severely injured but the Muslim extremism objectives were defeated after 6 months of engagement in the camp. 

Deputy Bahiya Hariri (sister of late Rafic Hariri) acknowledged that she contributed substantially in financing extremist Palestinian groups in the refugee camps.

 The Israelis take very seriously Nasrallah promises and threats. 

The Lebanese Government of Seniora PM failed to understand that “A word is a commitment”

Nasrallah had said that Hezbollah will never turn its arms internally except when coerced to relinquish its arms; especially its secured communication lines, the most potent arm it had during the war in 2006. 

In May 5, 2008 Seniora PM Government, with No Shia minister representatives in the cabinet, executed a plan to dismantle Hezbollah secure communication network. 

Hassan Nasrallah delivered a speech demanding the government to retract its decision. 

By May 7, the AMAL militias confronted the security forces of the Mustaqbal (Hariri clan) movement in Beirut and quickly closed down those arm caches intended to start civil disturbances.

The AMAL forces were controlled by cadres of Hezbollah in order for the confrontation not to degenerate into sectarian infighting. For example, the rioters saved the huge pictures of late Rafic Hariri PM and removed the pictures of Saad Hariri and Seniora PM. 

Israel admitted that its patient work of infiltrating Hezbollah for two years vanished within a couple of hours. Over 20 Lebanese agents spying for Israel have been apprehended.   Nasrallah is demanding that the traitors be hanged. Israel spy bunkers in Beirut were closed

 Hezbollah has joined the Parliament since 1992 and has increased the number of its Deputies; it has cabinet ministers since the year 2000.  

Lebanon is getting ready for Parliamentary election in June 7, 2009 and all the indications point to victory of the opposition headed by Hezbollah, AMAL, and the movement (Tayyar) of Change and Reforms of current President General Michel Aoun. 

Note:  The biographical sections were extracted from the recent Arabic/Lebanese book “Shock and Steadfastness” (Sadmah wa Sumoud”) by Karim Bakradounyi

Young Raja Oueis posted this article in 2013, written during a creative co-sensing circle.

He passed away a week ago, of cancer in 2015

Posted on February 23, 2015 (with a few editing on my part)

He lives in the fleeting moment.

What life is for ,if not to live, think, love, exist in the moment?

He isn’t worried. He isn’t phased.

He knows life will continue whether he steps to smell the roses or not.

He Knows that he will learn, change, adapt, evolve, …

Newer versions of himself will emerge …

Love had a way of materializing as soon as he wore his heart on his sleeve … 

His heart – is now exposed, vulnerable, yet free and alive.

Another part of him seeks similar emergence – his mind. 

Just as love requires an object on which to focus, the mind requires one, in order for ideas to bloom.

The opening for his ideas to spring forth, lies ahead:

A change of institution, a change of country, perhaps just a change in nature, a new design created.

The opening widens as technology advances and he watches, wide-eyed

At a loss for knowing where to begin, the timing this creator desired to create.

Through the opening, his mind plants the seeds of budding ideas:

Augmented reality, telepresence, a world where organic technology doesn’t sound like an oxymoron –

These seeds need care to grow, they need diligent work and focus.

Many of these seeds will never grow, the mind will never access the granted opportunity,

Lest he does also learn to live and love …

His life, his love, his thoughts interact in the background of his mind. 

Instead of a sandbox, there is gray matter, to immerse himself in. 

Instead of a slide, there are ridges and valleys to woosh down.

Instead of a jungle gym, there are synapses to jump across.

Instead of a water fountain, there is a stream of consciousness,

And all in the mental playground, from which all came together and meshed.

Raja Oueis

The 2020 film AK-47. This amateur inventor who shot to global fame

A review of the 2020 film AK-47: Kalashnikov

By Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin / April 21st, 2021

AK-47: Kalashnikov (2020) is a biographical film about Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov (1919–2013), the inventor and designer of the AK-47 automatic rifle.

This Russian film, released in February of last year, follows the young Kalashnikov as he is bombarded by Germans during WWII and is interspersed with flashbacks of his childhood.

Disturbed by the failure of a newly designed gun that nearly gets a comrade killed when it jams, he examines the parts and lists out various problems with the new design.

An amateur inventor who had been playing around with various types of primitive gun designs since he was child, Kalashnikov goes back to work in a steam engine workshop after being injured in battle.

There he is assigned a desk and tools, and struggles to assemble a new gun design he had been drawing up. Help is at hand when the other workers in the workshop offer their after-hours services to help him tool the parts necessary for his new design.

After this, his life takes many twists and turns as he struggles to perfect his design and he gains acceptance through inventor competitions, testing ranges and the military hierarchy.

The story focuses on his drive and sincerity in producing a safer gun that would help the Soviets win the war. Although the gun he is famous for was Not produced until 1947 (“Avtomát Kaláshnikova” (Russian: Автома́т Кала́шникова, lit. ‘Kalashnikov Automatic Gun’), its reliability and design ensured its wide use in many armies around the world in subsequent decades.

The film also strives to show Kalashnikov as a role model for how someone with a basic education (Kalashnikov left school after seventh grade) can achieve so much in the way of plaudits and global fame.

In AK-47: Kalashnikov, the testing processes of the gun were not complete successes but Kalashnikov is given more promotions and more help in developing his ideas.

With the development of new technologies, a simplified, lighter version of the automatic rifle was developed which soon became the most ubiquitous variant of the AK-47.

In the real world, the popularity of the design meant that “approximately 100 million AK-47 assault rifles had been produced by 2009, and about half of them are counterfeit, manufactured at a rate of about a million per year.

Izhmash, the official manufacturer of AK-47 in Russia, did not patent the weapon until 1997, and in 2006 accounted for only 10% of the world’s production.”

Kalashnikov’s first submachine gun

The film is beautifully shot with realistic battle scenes and panoramic landscape settings. The relations between the soldiers, and between the soldiers and their superiors are developed without the stereotyped or charicatured portrayals seen in films like Enemy at the Gates (2001), as Kalashnikov gets help and encouragement all around him, even at his lowest points when he feels like giving up.

In these days of instant-everything and easy consumption access to any product, it is refreshing to see male and female workers with so many skills (including his drafting technician who becomes his wife) bringing an idea from drawings through precision tooling to the finished gleaming weapon.

Kalashnikov himself did suffer “spiritual pain” about whether he was responsible for the deaths caused by his weapons, but also believed that their use was defensive rather than offensive.

The AK-47 has been used in many anti-colonial wars and received the ultimate praise when appearing on some national flags and coats of arms.

Like any weapon, his guns have been used in terrorist organisations but one could argue that overall its reliability and simplicity evened up the stakes in many an asymmetrical war.

Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov (1919–2013)
Kalashnikov at the Kremlin, December 2009

Kalashnikov was hospitalized on 17 November 2013, in Izhevsk, the capital of Udmurtia and where he lived and died on 23 December 2013, at age 94 from gastric hemorrhage.

A statue dedicated to Kalashnikov was commissioned by the Russian Military Historical Society and unveiled in Moscow in 2017. It is a 7.5m (25ft) monument, which shows Kalashnikov holding an AK-47 in his arms.

It was soon spotted that the technical drawing of the gun etched onto a metallic plate at the base of the monument was actually of an StG 44 rifle used by the Nazis during WWII.

The symbolism of this mistake was not lost on the public, a country that lost millions of its people at the hands of the Nazi invasion which started on Sunday, 22 June 1941.

The section of the metallic plate with the gun design was soon removed with an angle grinder.

Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin is an Irish artist, lecturer and writer. His artwork consists of paintings based on contemporary geopolitical themes as well as Irish history and cityscapes of Dublin.

His blog of critical writing based on cinema, art and politics along with research on a database of Realist and Social Realist art from around the world can be viewed country by country at http://gaelart.blogspot.ie/Read other articles by Caoimhghin.

Book review of “Farewell Beirut”

Posted on November 14, 2008

Farewell Beirut is fundamentally an autobiographical witnessed short stories and is of 220 pages distributed in 15 chapters.

Late Mai Ghoussoub is a writer, sculpture, theater promoter, and a co-founder of the publishing house Dar Al Saki, was 54 when she died of complication from a surgery in London on February 17, 2007.

Mai participated in the Lebanese civil war by caring for the downtrodden Palestinians living in shantytown of refugee camps.

She lost an eye by a rocket that hit her car while aiding in a clinic of Nabaa in East Beirut, and she suffered greatly for three years out of that injury.  Mai decided to leave Lebanon in 1979 and lived for a while in Paris and then moved to London.

Mai suggested to her old school friend Andre Caspar, who was hitchhiking in the USA, to join her and open a library that would offer Arabic books and manuscript.  The library led to instituting the publishing house Dar Al Saki in 1983. Mai married Hazem Saghieh, a writer and newspaper editor.

During an art exhibition in Shore Ditch London, Mai and her Israeli actress friend Anna Sharbati donned Muslim attires and held tennis rackets to stir any climate of conservatism in London, but nobody noticed them.

Mai recalls that at the age of 12, she was attached to her female French teacher Nomie.  To please her teacher she wrote a lengthy fictitious essay that ended with an injunction for revenge on harms done to her.  Nomie gave her only 10 out of 20 points because the want for revenge is the basest of emotions… Mai retained that lesson and struggled with it most of her turbulent life, especially during part of the civil war.

First story.

Tiny and sickly Latifa was barely 9 years old when her Syrian father “rented” her for a year to work as maid (house helper). Latifa was to get up before any member of the family and go to bed in a corner of the kitchen after every member was asleep and work non-stop most of the time. Latifa, treated worse than a slave, endured all the miseries and humiliations.

(We had 3 Syrian kids girls from Safita in Syria, ranging from 10 to 12. The father of the kid used to pay us a visit every year to collect upfront the yearly wage of the daughter. The father barely spent any time, much less quality time with his daughter. These girls experienced a heart-wrenched moment when they had to leave us. They got used to us, though we never demanded from them a glass of water. Mother was the boss and we had nothing to do with these hard working helpers. I guess they sensed they will have a harsher life and maybe be married at a young age)

Latifa’s father used to show up drunk once a year to be paid without even bringing his daughter a token of a gift or spending any time with her.

Latifa was raped by the eldest son of the family and she was no longer permitted to leave the apartment. During the civil war in Lebanon, tiny Latifa was to brave the snipers and rockets to bring food to the family. 

Latifa joined the militias of the neighborhood and moved with them; she covered her face with a hood (cagoule) so that nobody would recognize her, but her large eyes could not conceal her.  Latifa never took revenge on her “masters”, but tried her best to move forward.

Latifa got famous as “Um Ali”, and one of the toughest fighters in Beirut. 

She was killed mysteriously and her “masters” had no photo of her to plaster it on the street in remembrance of a “martyr”.  Latifa lived incognito and died incognito.

Second story.

Said was the only son of the owner of a small grocery.  His family was constantly worried for his upbringing.  Said was a short, stocky, jovial and smiling helper; he delivered the groceries to the homes and was liked by the entire neighborhood; he wanted to join the “hospitality” business.

The civil war changed Said: he joined the militias and became a tough fighter.  There were plenty of rumors about Said’s deeds during the war; a sniper, a blackmailer, a leader of a group of fighters and anything that warriors are expected to end up doing among scared and humiliated citizens.

Said opened a small hotel after the war.  The author was unable to label a definitive judgment opinion on Said as she recalled him when Mai was settled overseas.  Can a man be fundamentally good and change to the opposite when circumstances change?

Third story.

Hashem is an Iranian refugee in Beirut, fleeing the new Khomeini Islamic regime

Hashem is well liked and funny and has strong and definite positions against the Western States and cultures.  He immigrated to Denmark during the Lebanese civil war and married the tall, beautiful and blonde Kirsten.  

Kersten did her best to assimilate Hashem’s culture and tradition; she befriended his friends, learned to cook Iranian and Lebanese dishes, helped bring Hashem’s family to Denmark and had promised him to wear the veil when they decide to return to Iran or settle in Lebanon.

Hashem fell in love with Maria, a Chilean girl, while attending a Danish language center.  Maria didn’t care for Hashem’s friends or even his health; all she cared for was her relationship with Hashem.  Kirsten didn’t like the situation; she never reprimanded Hashem verbally: her eyes and silence and posture expressed her displeasure.

Hashem was killed in Denmark in 1989; Kirsten set up an official obituary in her church and in the mosque. She organized the funeral to its minute details and delivered the eulogy; she persisted on keeping Hashem’s memory every year and obliterated Maria from the picture. From now on Hashem solely belongs to Kirsten.

Mai volunteered her aid in the clinic of the Chatila Palestinian camp at the start of the civil war; she cataloged the medicines and shelved them accordingly. A young Palestinian leader visited the camp and saw Mai; he sent one of his sbirs to fetch Mai to his headquarter.

Mai and Abu Firas enjoyed a secret amorous affair for long time until Mai’s brother got injured.  Abu Firas made the error of visiting Mai at the hospital; Mai’s family and acquaintances got wind of her marginal affair and she had to leave Lebanon to Paris when her brother recovered.

Mai never carried a weapon or engage in any skirmishes.  Mai was comfortably installed in Paris when she received a long distance call from Lebanon; Mai refused to take the call of Abu Firas:  instead, she wandered in the streets of Paris to relieve the anxiety of the onslaught of her memory of the civil war.

Mai had questions nagging at her “would she ever be able to convince herself that she didn’t participate in the civil war?”, “would she be able to erase the facts that she met assassins and didn’t oppose their deeds?”

One thing that Mai is convinced of is that she allied to mercenaries on ideological grounds and let her country go to hell.

Will Biden be able to stop Erdogan neo-Ottoman expansionism?

Christian Malard, International policy expert and diplomatic consultant

The Ottoman Recep Tayyip Erdogan is trying to reweave the nationalist fibre, through external provocation, because he is weakened on the inside by a sluggish economy and growing unpopularity.

It is a dangerous game because he wants to project himself beyond his borders and is once again seeking to settle scores with his historical Armenian enemies, whose genocide in 1915 was caused by Turkey (and processed and executed by the Kurds?). Which Erdogan denies. And that is a shame

Erdogan also defies Europe, the United States and NATO (Trump had an open and almost daily communication with Erdogan), of which he is a member, and above all Russia, on three fronts:

In Syria, where he provides military aid to Islamist rebels hostile to Bashar al-Assad supported by the Kremlin; in Libya, where he supports the camp opposed to Vladimir Putin; and in the Caucasus, at the heart of the Russian president’s sphere of influence. (And still, Putin is patiently negotiating Russia economic interests with Erdogan)

NATO, for its part, shows a distinct weakness by refusing to sanction him. Undoubtedly for fear of letting go the second most powerful army, after that of the United States, within the Atlantic Alliance. (Like what the Turkish army can come to aid against Russia army?)

Diplomats stationed in the region, for the most part, say that Erdogan is opening new fronts as a diversionary tactic because his cursor is set by the 2023 presidential election.

Erdogan fears late fallout from the “Arab Spring”. He still has in mind how his late friend, the Egyptian Muslim Brother, Mohamed Morsi, was ousted in 2013 by the military after a year in power.

And then, it should be recalled, first of all, that the Russo-Turkish alliance is an unnatural alliance, even if it has erased, in recent years, its numerous geopolitical divergences.

History is there to remind us that the Ottoman and Russian empires fought many wars for the domination of the Middle East. (Actually, the decision to get rid of the Armenians during WWI was because they consistently supported Russia wars against the Ottoman empire, as Germany was confronting the Russia emperor forces on the Turkish front.)

Until now, their good relations have been based on a common will to drive the West out of conflict zones and to take advantage of the vacuum left by Donald Trump’s America in the Middle East.

Today, we must ask ourselves two questions:

  1. Has the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict signed the end of this unnatural geopolitical alliance? And is Vladimir Putin going to want (and be able) to continue to use Turkey to divide NATO? For, by opening a third front in the Caucasus against Russia, Erdogan has called into question the status quo that Vladimir Putin maintained in the region.

2. If Turkey persists in tilting the balance of power, Vladimir Putin will no doubt end up coming out of his reserve. And the anti-Western policy will no longer suffice to mask the growing differences with Ankara.

Things aren’t looking good with France either.

It should be remembered that Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a Muslim Brother, therefore being an Islamist. And as such, it is unacceptable for him to hear Emmanuel Macron’s speech against the Islamist pandemic launched against the West and its values.

One wonders who Fahrettin Altun, Erdogan’s communications director, is mocking when he says that “the insidious policy of cartoons, separatism against the Muslims and searches of mosques are not linked to freedom of expression.

Erdogan, who had thousands of soldiers, lawyers, judges, politicians, journalists, Kurdish activists, etc… eliminated to establish his power. Is he best placed to give lessons on freedom of expression?

Erdogan wants to challenge the secular heritage of Mustapha Kemal Ataturk, which dates back to 1924, by initiating a resurrection of the Ottoman Empire. He seeks to appear as the best defender of Muslims throughout the world and the leader of a Sunni world in which he wants to compete with Saudi Arabia, which he classifies as an anti-Turkish axis, along with the United States, the United Arab Emirates and Israel.

Like Vladimir Putin, he took advantage of the American withdrawal from the Middle East to increase his influence and territorial expansionism.

Through this international outbidding, Erdogan aims to create a diversion to hide the chaotic economic situation in his country: the unemployment rate is 13% and affects 26% of young people.

And the Turkish currency the lira is collapsing against the dollar. So much so that there is no longer a sacred union around Erdogan, despite all the powers he enjoys.

His popularity is waning; his Islamist conservative party, the AKP, is torn apart since its defeat at the 2019 municipal elections.

His former Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, and his former Minister of Economy, have gone into opposition.

And if the presidential and legislative elections, scheduled for June 2023, were held today, he would come out losing to his republican rival, Ekrem Imamoglu, who took away the mayor of Istanbul, held by the Islamo-conservatives for 25 years.

Weakened as never before on the inside, Erdogan tries to bounce back, multiplying provocations and outrages on the international scene.

But a question now arises for him: will the arrival of Joe Biden force him to revise Turkey’s foreign policy, at a critical moment for him internally?

Just over a year ago, Joe Biden called Erdogan an “autocrat” and pledged to support the Turkish opposition.

More recently, during the Turkish president’s intervention in Nagorno-Karabakh, Joe Biden called Erdogan’s bellicose rhetoric, including the use of Syrian jihadist mercenaries to terrify the Armenian population, “irresponsible”.

For the time being, Erdogan wants to be conciliatory, but we cannot be fooled by his manoeuvres.

As always. He bets on the idea that Joe Biden will ensure, like all his predecessors, the stability of his relationship with Turkey, so as not to weaken the Atlantic Alliance, which has several hundred nuclear warhead missiles on Turkish soil (to do what with these atomic bombs?).


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

October 2021
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