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.

Lebanon and Palestine: Same and Different(Part 1)

Posted on April 29, 2009

Brief ancient history:

Lebanon is a recognized State by the UN in 1943. The Lebanese State got its fictitious “independence” from France who withdrew its troops in 1946 (2 years before the State of Israel was recognized by the UN).

Palestine was partitioned in 1947 between Palestinians and the minority Jews (barely 40% but allocated 55% of the land of Palestine).

Currently, all of Palestine is under occupation by this Zionist State called Israel.

Lebanon and Palestine were throughout antiquity under the domination of neighboring Empires such as in Egypt, Turkey, Iran, and Iraq (Mesopotamia). 

The people in the two tiny stretches of coastal lands on the Eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea were mainly mariners, traders, middlemen among Empires, and skilled artisans. (They were united under the Seleucid dynasty, an officer of Alexander army)

Under the nominal or explicit domination of Empires, Lebanon and Palestine had autonomous administration of their society as City-States that were highly democratic within the city limits as Athens emulated in the 7th century BC. 

The famous City-States from north to south are Ugarite, Tripoli, Jubail (Byblos), Saida, Sour (Tyr), Akka (Acre and Haifa), and Askelan. 

The City-State of Jubail (inventors of the alphabet) built Saida; Saida built Sour and dominated the sea routes; and Sour built Akka and relayed Saida in sea domination and expanding the trading posts to Spain. 

These City-States were the masters of the sea and traded with all Empires, and build trading towns: they have resisted many overwhelming sieges, sometimes for years, and occasionally managed Not to be entered and devastated.

Every empire that conquered Syria resumed its drive by dominating Lebanon and Palestine. 

In general, when more than one empire co-existed at the same period and when the empire in Egypt was powerful enough then it governed the southern half of Palestine while the other empire governed the upper half, including Lebanon. 

The strip of Gaza to Yafa was mostly under Egyptian cultural influence.

The coastal strip from north actual Syria to the Sinai was called Canaan. Then, the upper stretch to Akka was called Phoenicia or even Saida (in reference for the main City-State).

The Sea People, called Philistines and probably coming from the Adriatic Sea, destroyed Greece fleet, devastated many coastal cities, and conquered Egypt before they were driven out and settle in Gaza and the southern part of Canaan, called Palestine ever since.

Moses (this mythical story) arrived with an amalgam of nomadic tribes and his successors attempted to occupy part of south Palestine.  These tribes worshiped Yahweh/Yahwa, thus, yahoud and Jews for the Latin people

These tribes under Moses reverted to worshiping the all encompassing God of the Land called El., except a few tribes such as Judea and Benjamin.  During the Roman Empire, and most of the empires that dominated Syria, the district of Tyr administered the upper half of Palestine, including Galilee.

Modern History:

 In the beginning of the 20th century, the military in Turkey deposed the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire and started policies focused on Turk Nationhood.  Many in Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine immigrated to Egypt. 

During the First World War famine fell on Lebanon along with a devastating wave of locust; they immigrated to the USA, Brazil, Latin America, and many were dropped in Africa by unethical ship captains who claimed that they reached the Americas.

After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in the First World War, Britain had mandate over Palestine and Iraq; France had mandate over Lebanon and Syria.

Consequently, the bilingual Palestinians spoke English, and their counterpart in Lebanon spoke French.

In 1930, Haifa grabbed the center of trades and many Lebanese flocked to Haifa and Palestine.  The reverse wave occurred when the State of Israel was recognized by a majority of one vote at the UN in 1948.  Lebanon received Palestinian refugees who were installed in camps on the ground that their stay is temporary! and will return under the UN resolution 194

In one chapter of “World Adrift” Amine Maaluf said “The western powers are now paying the price for failing to apply their values in the colonies” 

The European colonial powers of Britain, France, Germany, and the  Netherlands had no intentions of spreading their moral values to those they considered Not worthy of their pearls and gems.

The indigents were to be enslaved, exploited, and humiliated;

The indigents who adopted the western values of equality, liberty, and democracy were persecuted and harassed and imprisoned;

The colonial administrators negotiated with the conservative conformists who were ready to strike deals and cohabit with lesser human rights. 

Dictators in Europe maybe abhorred after their defeat, but the colonial powers readily accept dictators in underdeveloped States to facilitate the embezzling businesses.

Human values had different quality and flavors according to the whims and interest of the exploiting colonial powers. 

Britain used astute diplomatic policies to subjugate their colonies more frequently than France did; but France of the French Revolution had No patience negotiating and communicating with their colonial people and never skipped an occasion to stat its true purpose for domination.and exhibiting arrogant military posturing.

 The colonial powers installed infrastructures that were appropriate for exploitation of the colonies; they established the required administrations for smooth and efficient exploitation.

The other administrative offices for legislation and justices were carbon copies of the ones in their homeland, but these codes could be disposed off and trampled at the first occasion that short sighted interest called for swift and immediate actions.

Contemporary history:

Current Lebanon was created by France during its mandate period and cut out from Syria; it is now a recognized State by the UN since 1943.  Palestine was divided but the Zionist movement conquered the allocated portion for the Palestinians by the UN in 1948. through a detailed pre-planned attack drawn in 1935. 

The Palestinians are now located in the West Bank of the Jordan River and in Gaza where Israel has built 150 Jewish-only colonies and increasing every year. 

The Palestinians who fled their towns and villages in the State of Israel are refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.  And they spread throughout the 5 continents. The UN resolution 193 demands the repatriation of these Palestinians to their hometowns but Israel has been rebuffing that resolution since 1948.

Lebanon suffered many civil wars and calamities for Not being capable or unwilling of absorbing the Palestinian refugees.

Israel has waged four devastating wars against the State of Lebanon on flimsy pretexts based on the Palestinian resistance trying to regain their rights for a homeland.

And three more pre-emptive wars against after the withdrawal of the PLO in 1982.

Note: More detailed facts of the daily business trades between Lebanon and Palestine in Part 2. The implantation of Israel was mainly meant to break down daily trades, and One market, and prevent daily communication among the One people in One Nation: Syria.

“Orientalism” with a twist

Posted on December 13, 2012

Note: Currently, Lebanon is bankrupt: State, Banks , Central Bank and public institutions. The port of Beirut was blown down by an electromagnetic pulse missiles that only the superpower own.

For much of its contemporary history, Beirut has been characterized as the Paris of the Middle East, a cosmopolitan metropolis that misfortune has placed in the middle of a region hostile to the civilized pleasures of material excess, free-flowing alcohol and exposed female skin.

(Kind of the adjacent States, including Israel, refuse to agree for Lebanon to be like a neutral Switzerland!)

Beirut’s Parisian charm has tended to become less apparent during periods of mass sectarian slaughter during the 13 years of civil war that displaced mixed religious people in towns into cantons of similar religious sects.

In the introduction to his Orientalism, the late US/Palestinian author Edward Said notes repercussions of civil conflict in Lebanon on the European consciousness:

“On a visit to Beirut during the terrible civil war of 1975-1976 a French journalist wrote regretfully of the gutted downtown area that ‘it had once seemed to belong to the Orient of Chateaubriand and Nerval [18th- and 19th-century French Romantic writers] ‘.

This journalist was right about the place, especially so far as a European was concerned. The Orient was almost a European invention, and had been since antiquity a place of romance, exotic beings, haunting memories and landscapes, remarkable experiences.” (See link in note 2)

Belen Fernandez published in AlJazeera on Nov. 6, 2012 “Orientalism with a surgical twist: Beirut”


The ‘New York Times’ advertised Beirut as number 1 out of 44 ideal travel destinations in 2009 [Reuters]Can the representation of Beirut as a “Middle Eastern Paris brimming with wealth” function on behalf of imperialism?
“The civil war may indeed have upset a regional landscape constructed over time by European scholars, poets, travelers and other self-appointed authorities, who, as late Edward Said argues, helped institutionalize Eurocentric prejudice, deny agency to the actual inhabitants of the romanticized exotic lands and thus facilitate imperial and colonial conquest.

The civil war did not, however, halt Orientalist traditions – made quite clear in manuscripts like From Beirut to Jerusalem, unleashed to wide acclaim in 1989 by former New York Times Beirut bureau chief Thomas Friedman.

According to Friedman’s account, civil war-era Lebanon was populated by “buxom, Cleopatra-eyed Lebanese girls“, whose presence threw invading Israeli soldiers for a loop:”

This was not the Sinai, filled with cross-eyed Bedouins and shoeless Egyptian soldiers“.

That such caricatures were permitted to pass as insight, exposes the delusional nature of Friedman’s subsequent complaint that “a toxic political correctness infected the academic field of Middle Eastern studies“.

Paris revisited In recent years, Beirut has reclaimed its image as the Paris of the Middle East, outfitted with expanded shopping opportunities and a spiffy new downtown erected on the former dividing line between the Muslim and Christian halves of the city.

A spate of Times articles about Beirut’s various amenities offers such trivia as that “In a city of many faiths – Christian, Sunni, Shia, Druze – at least one religion is universally practiced: sun worship“.

The New York Times has dutifully taken on the role of PR firm for the resurgent Lebanese capital, advertising it as number 1 out of 44 ideal travel destinations in 2009.

Given that the specified temples of worship are high-end beach clubs where “hordes of heliophiles absorb ultraviolet rays and cultivate their bronzed exteriors”, it would seem that said religion is Not so universal after all– either from an economic perspective or one that recognises the incompatibility of certain prominent faiths with public bronzed exterior cultivation.

On the new Zaitunay Bay waterfront promenade, a “luxury playground” where “tablecloths gleam white and bottles of wine sweat in silver coolers”, the Times observes that the boardwalk planks, “a nod to maritime authenticity, present a design flaw perhaps foreseeable in this city:

Women with Louis Vuitton handbags are forever extracting their spike heels from the cracks”.

Additional sights at Zaitunay Bay, itself described as “Lebanon’s latest effort to recapture the prewar 1960s – when Brigitte Bardot was a regular and Beirut was a fashionable port of call”, include an Iraqi immigrant in “leather miniskirt, thigh-high boots and a fur vest and whose fire-engine-red lipstick and long yellow hair” would have appeared out-of-place in her native land but “were right at home in Beirut”.

In other Beirut-centric dispatches, the Times raves about gay nightlife and restaurants offering beef and duck flown in from France.

The point of taking issue with such idealised odes to money and fashion is Not to deny the affluence that exists in the city or the comparatively liberal nature of its society.

However, the marketing of a Beirut brand of “joie de vivre“, so blatantly equated with material wealth becomes morally problematic when we acknowledge the glaring economic disparity in the country, visible in the capital itself.

Consider, for example, the aesthetic differences between the refurbished downtown and the overcrowded and neglected Palestinian refugee camps and primarily Shia southern suburbs.

In these areas, recent infrastructure projects have included the rampant flattening of apartment blocks by the Israeli air force in 2006.

Needless to say, less sanitary aspects of life in Lebanon – such as the enslaved status of many migrants employed in the domestic help sector – have no place in the portrait of Beirut as a paradise of wealth, where tantalising opportunities await foreign visitors and their pocketbooks.

Cleopatra on Botox Three decades after Thomas Friedman discovered buxom Cleopatra in Lebanon, another Western voyager by the name of David J Constable has confirmed that the women still “look like Cleopatra”, and that they have acquired new methods for enhancing their appearances – becoming in the process veritable ambulatory showcases for “tucks, lifts, firming, lipo, implants, grafting, tightening, otoplasty, mammoplasty, rhinoplasty and many other physical manipulations”.

A member of the Royal Geographical Society, Constable approaches his anthropological subjects with Orientalist vigour, compiling his findings in a Huffington Post report entitled “Boobs, Botox, and the Babes of Beirut“.

Constable dispatch begins with the curious hypothesis:“For a largely “Arab “country it’s a bizarre thing that in Lebanon (Beirut specifically), women care more about their appearance than men. Males lead a rather sullied existence, priming their closely cut mini-beards and, from my own observations, eating rather a lot.

The formula in Lebanon’s capital for women is fashion-forward, from their choice of cloth to the decisions they make surgically.”

Non-experts on Arab grooming habits might of course be surprised to deduce that men usually spend hours preening in front of the mirror while women mope about in filth.

Undeterred, Constable rumbles on: “Muslim, Christian and Druze women in Beirut dress surprisingly skimpy. There are vests and silks and bikinis and cashmere and come-hither off-the-shoulder numbers.

Constable warns of occasional inauspicious outcomes among operated females: “Some look as if a drunken Picasso has drawn a face on to a balloon”.

In the very least, Picasso’s inebriated doodles attest to the European role in literally shaping the Orient.

Indeed, in 2006, the Israelis were presumably just as pleased as they’d been in 1982:  They discovered that not all Arabs were cross-eyed Bedouins, and Lebanon is still inhabited by bikini-clad plastic surgery recipients (and their slovenly overeating menfolk).

Field notes The Orient’s existence as a spectacle for the Westerner to behold and interpret is meanwhile made especially clear during Constable’s expedition to a nightclub “to witness the dolls and their dates myself”.

A power outage interrupts the exotic display but is fortunately resolved:“The lights slowly raise and the permafixed smiles return.

The waxed, toned limbs of party women begin to pop and gyrate again.They’re back on show, electrified so their surgical enhancements, botoxed-brows and designer names can bounce off my eyes, competing in a variety of silk-cut blouses, Louboutin heels and over-night handbags.

At another rooftop bar, Constable surmises that “there are benefits to marrying/dating/having sex with a plastic surgeon, since surely No one can afford to spend that much of their own cash on reconstructive surgery and blow-me-up operations”. Case closed.

As with the New York Times‘ fixation with Beirut glamour, the effect of essays like Constable’s is to reduce the Lebanese to a superficial existence in which personal concerns are limited to inflating one’s lips and breasts and not getting one’s designer heels stuck in boardwalk planks.

Never mind that many Lebanese are faced with more pressing preoccupations, such as a southern neighbour with a penchant for massacring civilians, upending infrastructure and saturating portions of the country with unexploded cluster bombs to serve as post-conflict population control.

Some may argue that the Times Constable approach is less detrimental than other reductionist portrayals of the country, such as Lebanon equals terrorist den.

These reductionist statements helps propagate an ethnic stereotype that has been exploited to justify more than one imperial project in the Arab/Muslim world.

The representation of Beirut as a Middle Eastern Paris brimming with wealth and cleavage – a place the West can relate to on account of its fervent materialism – can also function on behalf of imperialism, eliminating as it does all context legitimizing other aspects of Lebanon’s identity, like resistance to Israeli regional designs.

Note 1: Belen Fernandez is the author of The Imperial Messenger: Thomas Friedman at Workreleased by Verso in 2011.She is a member of the Jacobin Magazine editorial board, and her articles have appeared in the London Review of Books blogAl Akhbar English and many other publications.The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

Note 2https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2008/10/12/culture-and-resistance-by-edward-w-said/

Note 3: I think Miss Lebanon of 2012 is the one on the far left, the tall blonde one?

Report (#17). (April 25, 2009)

Every now and then you read optimistic editorials that an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians is very close because the US wants it, again, this time around. 

I heard these optimistic reflection 15 years ago by the Egyptian Ambassador to the USA who later was appointed Foreign Minister. 

You are led to believe that a Syrian-Israel accord is already completed and just waiting for a suitable political climate; and we all wonder and worry what “suitable political climate” entails as it has never been, but more wars and massacres to Lebanese and Palestinians.

 In the weekly “Jeune Afrique” (Young Africa) the editorial of Bechir ben Yahmed would like you to sit tight and see a wonderful movie of peace achievement unfold in the region , No later than two years from now.  Why? 

Because the new US Administration has set its mind that the establishment of a Palestinian State is the cornerstone for its long range policies in the Middle East, and that the European community badly wants this resolution on ground that it can No longer afford to pay for frequent reconstructions in Palestine and Gaza.

And Why the US has finally set its mind? 

Simply because a panel of 10 illustrious men in US politics has proposed this resolution. They are Brent Scowcroft, Paul Volcker, Zbigniew Brzeziński, James Wolfensohn, Henry Siegman, and others.

What is the ready plan of the US Administration?

First, the return of Israel to its 1967 border with “concessions on several parcels of lands” Yes, right.

Second, dividing Jerusalem as Capital for the two States;

Third, the return of Palestinian refugees to the Palestinian State. And why Israel is still transferring Palestinians to Gaza?

Forth, the admission of Israel of its responsibility and financial compensation by the “World Community”; and

Finally, the stationing of International Peace Force on the borders.

Nothing more and nothing less; see you all how simple and straightforward has this plan boiled down too! 

In the mean time:

First, the Palestinians and the “Arab” States have to recognize a purely Jewish State in their midst;

Second, the US has to recognize Hamas as a democratically elected party as it recognized the democratically elected ultra racists Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman. Not for long, before shaming Hamas as a terrorist movement.

Third, the US has to recognize that Israel has nuclear bombs and missiles that can deliver them and thus has the responsibility Not to leave decisions of mass destruction in the hands of foolish racist and “Arab hate mongers“; and

Forth, the US has to stop delivering white phosphorous bombs to Israel, as well as cluster bombs….

The German cargo transporter “Wehr Elbe” discharged 300 containers of military ammunitions in Israel and containing White Phosphorous bombs that caused the outcry of the international community for being dropped consistently on Gaza and burning thousands of Palestinians.

What else did these containers deliver? Cluster bombs, you guessed it.

Every week a child or a shepherd dies or is maimed in south Lebanon due to the millions of cluster bombs that Israel “delivered” in the last day of the 2006 July War.

That is not the end of the story.

Two other cargo shipments are in the pipelines. Why?

The previous Bush Administration has signed an accord with Israel for $25 billion dollars in free military package aids

Funny, President Obama does not want to rescind criminal decisions, as if closing Guantanamo Bay prison is of a lesser magnitude in hypocrisy.

An Iranian proverb says: “Balding men dies with a toupee of abundant curly regrets

This proverb squarely applies to Israel ex Ehoud Olmer PM. 

For three years, Olmert had the opportunity to sign peace agreement with Syria and establish a Palestinian homeland but he failed to do so.  In his departure farewell he delivered a public testament urging his successor Netanyahu to boldly and courageously grab a historic initiative to that effect.

If these decisions had no other alternatives then why has Olmert failed in his responsibility?

Israel, the US, and the European Union would like the general public to consider Iran the main nemesis for world peace. 

They don’t dare say that Pakistan that owns nuclear bombs is falling to a Taliban-like extremism. 

They also don’t dare say that the over 300 million Muslims in India are mostly of Shia sect leaning, like in Iran.

In Lebanon, over 750 candidates for the Parliamentary election in June 7 deposited $6,000 each to be eligible. 

Many withdrew from the race and recovered $1,500; the remaining lost their deposit. 

The treasury would be over 3 millions dollars richer. 

The New York Times published yesterday that Saudi Kingdom is pumping hundreds of millions of dollars to support the government candidates.  Saad Hariri is the medium for receiving and distributing the Saudi dirty money. 

Saudi monarchy would like the government in Lebanon to return as majority even with one candidate.  All the main lists of candidates have been formed by both alliances.

Today is the official anniversary of the Armenian genocide; the Armenians in Lebanon are not happy that Seniora PM decided to hold a meeting for the cabinet today. 

I had posted an essay on the genesis of the Armenian genocide under the title “Cursed Cities: Kars”

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.”

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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

Extracted from my diary, and written on November 24, 2006

Posted on October 23, 2008

It is a sunny and clear day. I think that it is important to first review the study prepared by Mark Perry and Alistair Crook for the British Forum of Confrontations on the July war between Israel and the Lebanese Resistance of Hezbollah.

(Actually, the main objective of Israel was to completely destroy all Lebanon infrastructure, bridges, “refineries”, highways, and Dahiyat in south Beirut. That’s what Israel did)

The bogus study came to the conclusion that Hezbollah won the war and was successful in penetrating the Israeli strategy, its cycle of decision making in the chain of command, intelligence gathering, and military maneuvering.

Though Hassan Nasrallah, (General Secretary of Hezbollah), warned Israel in many public speeches that Hezbollah is about to capture Israeli soldiers in exchange of the release of the Lebanese prisoners, still Israel was taken by complete surprise at the bold attack: mainly Israel supposed that this maneuver will not take place during summer when the “Arab” States from the Gulf and the Muslim Lebanese Shia emigrants flock to Lebanon for vacation.

The Hezbollah operation was easily carried out, and the later videos demonstrated that fact.

The incompetence of the Israeli commander, who failed to follow the military procedures, resulted in two tanks being destroyed in a minefield and many Israeli soldiers died. This unwarranted Israeli military error forced Olmert PM to escalate the confrontation into a full-fledged war, ahead of schedule set by the USA Bush Jr. for late autumn.

Though the vicious surprised escalation by Israel took Hezbollah by surprise it managed within minutes to mobilize its forces and the rocket officers.  The study estimated that Hezbollah has 600 rocket depots hidden 40 meters deep in mountains south of the Litany River.

The Hezbollah political officers had no knowledge of the locations of the depots for security reasons, even a field commander knew about the location of only three depots within his field of operation.

All the varied Israeli sources of military intelligence failed to accurately locate the rocket sites, as well as locating the leaders of Hezbollah, since Not a single one was killed; even Abu Jaafar, the southern military commander of Hezbollah did not die as Israel proclaimed on June 28.

Israel was flabbergasted by the total adherence of the Hezbollah militants by the war truth, 33 days later, a fact that confirmed the effective communication among Hezbollah bases after the methodical Israeli aerial bombardments for over 30 days and nights.

Hezbollah was also very successful in counter thwarting the Israeli espionage operations in Lebanon: it captured 16 spies before the war, many more during the war, and leaked erroneous information to the Israelis about the rocket sites which resulted in civilian casualties and worldwide uproar for the Qana massacre.

(The same town that witnessed the massacre of 110 civilians massed in the UN compound in 1996)

Israel lost as many soldiers and officers as Hezbollah did, or about 180.

The Hezbollah Nasr brigade in the south, strong of 3,000 fighters, did not need to be replenished neither in fighters or supplies during the whole period of the war.

The cause of continuous wavering of the Israeli military command to start the land invasion was due mainly to the disastrous previous small skirmishes that proved that the Hezbollah fighters were steadfast in holding on to their towns and villages and will not retreat.

When Israel called up the reserves sooner than expected on June 21, the US military strategist surmised that the Israeli army is in great trouble and is no longer doing well as hoped.

On June 21, Ehud Olmert PM urgently demanded from the US ammunition supplies which confirmed that Israel’s air depots have been depleted within the first week of its air strikes, and that Israel is in deep trouble.

The environs of the towns of Maroun El Ras and Bent Jbeil, by the border, did not fall in the hands of Israel for the duration of the war, even after Israel called up an additional 15,000 soldiers and the Golani brigade to dislodge the tenacious fighters.

The Merkava tank was defenseless against the second generation of anti tank missiles used by Hezbollah and which were fabricated in 1973.

At the same time, the “Khyber One” rockets which targeted the airbase in Afula, deep inside Israel, could not be intercepted.

Finally, the US hurriedly worked out a UN truth, at the instigation of Israel on August 10, because the Zionist soldiers, deep in south Lebanon, feared encirclement, total defeat, and surrender.

The consequences of this defeat, as stated by the study, were disastrous to both Israeli image of an undefeated State and the US foreign policies.

First, when US diplomats and politicians tried to be in touch with Jordan, Egypt, or Saudi Arabia after the war they realized that nobody in these pro American States dared respond to their calls;

Second, the US realized that its air superiority in a war against Iran is susceptible to be a failure in order to snatch any quick victory;

Third, the popularity of Hassan Nasrallah has become overwhelming in all the Arab and Muslim World, a fact that pursuing the accusations of terrorism will ridicule the US administration and sap any remnants of its credibility;

Fourth, the strategy adopted by Hezbollah discredited the complete political affiliation of the Arab regimes with the US policies in order to gain a few irrelevant advantages;

Fifth, the US is already unable to contemplate a coalition of the Arab and Muslim States in anticipation of an invasion of Iran, simply because these States can no longer afford to look as US stooges toward their people;

Sixth, any attempt by Israel to disable the Iranian nuclear plants will instigate a retaliation toward Israel nuclear plants and further weakening of the American presence in the Arab Gulf States as well as the fall of many pro American Arab States in a domino fashion. (A few days ago, an air-air missile fell by Israel Nuclear site of Dimona, and the Dome of patriotes failed to intercept it.)

Seventh, Israel is going to need, at least 15 years, to rebuild its military and intelligence capabilities in order to regain the image of undefeated army. Israel lost all its spying bunkers (labelled security services in Beirut) in 2008 by a 3-day cleaning up by Hezbollah.

Eight, the position of Iran in Iraq has drastically increased and the Shiaa might soon start an offensive against the US and British troops, their previous allies;

Ninth, the position of Syria in Lebanon has strengthened which is a defeat to the French program since it would be impossible from now on to form a government in Lebanon that antagonizes Syria.

The previous consequences of the study are conjectures so far.

Let us review what happened since after the July war.

First, George W. Bush administration was defeated grandly in the House and the Senate.

This administration has voiced readiness to consider alternative solutions to the Iraqi quagmire.  This administration will view world politics from a different perspective, except in the Greater Middle East. 

It seems that the Bush government is expressing its bitterness in our region. The Bush administration is the cause that the unity governments in Palestine and Lebanon are being postponed weeks after weeks at the detriment of our security and economic development.

Second, Britain has already decided to hand over the civil administration in Basra by the end of the year and has plans to retreat from Iraq altogether: Britain and the European States are vigorously seeking open and direct negotiations with Iran and Syria for a political resolution in Iraq

Third, Pakistan has reached a truth in the provinces bordering Afghanistan and is no longer willing to pursue the US maddening demands to fighting terrorism.

Fourth, Bush is facing serious hurdles meeting with “Arab” leaders. The Iraqi Prime Minister Maleki is not sincerely willing to meet Bush for the time being after Moqtada Sadr threatened to quit the government and the Chamber of deputies if he did, because the recent onslaught of the US forces in Sadr City in Baghdad.

Fifth, Saudi Kingdom is diversifying its military hardware by purchasing for over $1, 5 billions from Britain and Europe. Vice President Cheney visited Saudi Arabia to pressure it to purchase military hardware from the US.

Sixth, the US is about to transfer its major military bases from Qatar to another Gulf State after Qatar was actively flaunting the US plans in the region and openly voicing its concerns in the UN.

Seven, China has publicly announced that it will continue to aid Pakistan with its nuclear programs; China is implicitly behind the Iranian peaceful nuclear program and that is why the US is feeling impotent in setting up an economic effective embargo or contemplating any military alternative.

Eight, a recent survey by a European agency showed that Israel is considered the worst racist and apartheid State.

Nine, the US and Israel are trying hopelessly to start a civil war in Lebanon by effectively assassinating the Maronite Minister Pierre Gemayel Jr. Jordan King Abdullah is warning of imminent civil wars in Lebanon, Palestine, and Iraq. Bush is coming to Amman to meet Iraq Maliki PM and, most probably, to put the final touches to the execution of the civil war in Lebanon.

Ten, the foreign visitors to Lebanon are flocking to the south to witness the complete destruction of 30 towns and villages; they are carrying back video, pictures and interviews with the southern residents after shedding bitter tears at the view of these cataclysmic scenes. Hopefully a renewed awareness in the US and Europe of the main task of this mercenary State of Israel will expand.

Eleven, the parliamentary election in Bahrain, 70% of the population being of Shia sect, allowed the Shia and leftist movement to win big.

Twelve, Israel Olmert PM has finally agreed to a truth with Hamas in order to put a stop to the “Al Qassam” rockets directed to the kibbutz Sderot closest to Gaza.

Thirteen, Iranian Prime Minister has promised to help the US in Iraq if the US forces vacate completely this country.

Note: With the advent of Donald Trump, many “Arabic” States, especially those pseudo-State in the Gulf have officially recognized Israel.

Syrian Women battle continues: Euripides’ “Trojan Women”

Posted on May 30, 2014

Syria Trojan Women: the battle continues. BEIRUT, by Élodie Morel | iloubnan.info – May 18, 2014, 14h46<!––><!–
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 In December 2013, around 40 Syrian women performed Euripides’ “Trojan Women” on stage in Amman, Jordan.
All of the actresses were refugees that had fled their country to escape the war that began three years ago.

Euripides wrote the Trojan Women in 415 BC. However, the tragedy could have been written yesterday, or these Syrian refugees. Just like the Trojan Women, they lost everything when they left Syria: their homes, their jobs, their possessions and in many cases, their loved ones.

The co-founders of the project now want to portray this experience through a documentary entitled Queens of Syria.
In a large, bright room, somewhere in Amman, Syrian women, all refugees living in the Jordan capital, are playing Musical Chairs.

All of them are running and laughing like children.One woman slips and falls on her bottom, trying to sit down, she bursts out laughing with her friends.

This surprising and heart-warming scene was filmed during the Syria Trojan Women project, launched in October 2013, where 40 Syrian refugees participating in drama therapy workshops worked together to perform Euripides Trojan Women tragedy on stage in December.Those images are striking and truly moving. They will be used to create a documentary entitled Queens of Syria, dedicated to the two-month long process of the project.

This film still needs financing to see the light. You can watch more of the footage in this video, where filmmaker Yasmin Fedaa explains why it is crucial to finalize the production of the documentary:

https://player.vimeo.com/video/92822753
Journalist and award-winning former foreign correspondent, Charlotte Eagar is one of the co-founders of the Syria Trojan Women project.Months ago, she got the idea of having Syrian refugees perform in Euripides’ tragedy on stage.

Charlotte had been familiar with this mythical play since reading it during her time at university: And in 1992, while covering the conflict in Bosnia, she heard it on the BBC World Service.The words echoed with the reality she was living at that time.

This play is a universal, timeless tale about war and its victims.Charlotte is also an award-winning filmmaker. The year before the Syria Trojan Women project was born, she co-directed and co-wrote a mini soap in Kenya entitled “Something’s Got to Change”, with young amateur actors, in a Nairobi slum for the NGO Emerging Leaders.“

I realized that through this project, the children became confident, proud of what they had done,.When this project was completed, I was looking for another idea. I discussed with Oxfam about useful initiatives to launch. They suggested that we address the situation of the Syrian refugees in different countries neighboring Syria. The story of the Syrian women made me think of Euripides’ tragedy.”Just like the Trojan Women, the Syrian women lost everything when they fled their country.

From Lebanon to Jordan

The project was supposed to take place in Lebanon, the country hosting the largest number of Syrian refugees.There are more than one million officially registered refugees there. “We wanted to do it in Lebanon, but we had to change our plans for security purposes,” Charlotte told us as we contacted her from Beirut.

She explained that, as a former war correspondent, she was not really worried about the security situation in Lebanon, but insurance companies most certainly were.

“Not a single one accepted to insure the project.” So the organizers decided to do it in Amman, the capital of Jordan, a much more stable country.The objective of the Syria Trojan Women project was to help refugees through drama-therapy, but also to publicize this crisis and to raise the audience’s awareness about the humanitarian situation in Syria.

The drama-therapy was really effective.Charlotte Eagar explained to us that the play “gave a voice to 
those women. It gave them a feeling of achievement and dignity; it was also a way for them to escape their daily ‘routine’. They were not living in refugee camps; they had found homes around Amman.

They had at one point felt isolated and lonely, but coming to the drama-therapy sessions was a way to build new relationships.A kindergarten was also set up to take care of the children of the participants. Just like their mothers, the children made new friends as well. This project was great for everyone!”

Two performances took place at the National Centre for Culture and Performing Arts in Amman on December 17 and 18, 2013.After performing on stage, the women said they felt that people listened to their story. For once, they were directly speaking to the public, without any media between them and the audience.

The audience was composed of the refugees’ families, and also of Jordanian locals and expatriates.“After the play, people said: ‘now I really feel like I understand what it is like to be a refugee’”, stated Georgina Paget, a London-based film producer.

Georgina is also a co-founder of the Syria Trojan Women project.Paget told us, “After watching and listening to these women, the people in the audience understood what life could be like in such a situation. They understood that these refugees were people just like them. One of the women used to work in her town’s administration services, you know. She could be anyone of us.”

Fighting compassion fatigue


This play is also a way to fight compassion fatigue, which is one of the biggest challenges of the project. “People are tired of caring,” Georgina explained. “There is a compassion fatigue in general and especially regarding Syria. We feel it every day. For example, the amount of money collected by NGOs for Syria is much smaller than the amount collected after the Philippines’ hurricane.”

The Syria Trojan Women performance in December was also a success from an artistic point of view. They have been invited to perform in places such as the UK, the US and Switzerland.

But getting visas for Syrian refugees to certain countries is difficult. So, to reach as many people as possible, the organizers are now trying to finalize the documentary, “Queens of Syria”.“The objective of the documentary is to reach more people, to let as many people as possible hear the story of these women.

We filmed the drama-therapy sessions, the rehearsals and the performances, thanks to a grant from the Asfari Foundation and private donations,” Georgina Paget said. “We have 88 hours of footage and we need money to make a documentary out of them”.

A 3’30 trailer for the documentary was released online. It shows the refugees, passionate about what they do, about the play and about being together. It is truly moving. You can watch it here:
https://player.vimeo.com/video/86996865

To finance the production of the documentary, the Syria Trojan Women Project launched a crowdfounding campaign on Indiegogo, a crowdfounding digital platform.“

We hope that by watching this documentary, just like by watching the performance in Amman, people will begin to understand what is really happening. They will see Syrian refugees as real persons and not only as statistics delivered by the media.

They will see individuals telling their stories,” Georgina said, while adding that, “to make the people care, we need to give them something personal and beautiful as well. Out of their own tragedy, the women created something beautiful. They created art.”

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– See more at: http://www.iloubnan.info/artandculture/80938/Syria-Trojan-Women:-the-battle-continues#sthash.iD7pzhPN.dpuf

Sustainable agriculture in the Middle East: Environmental emergency and food security challenge

Fabienne Durand , Political scientist consultant on sustainable development and global warming.

The Covid crisis has highlighted the need to relocate what is essential, such as food and drug production.

In the Middle East, it is clear that the supply of basic foodstuffs depends heavily, and increasingly so, on international markets, as arable land and water resources are becoming increasingly scarce.

Policies support the production and consumption of cereals, with the result that these water-demanding products, especially wheat, which is a major component of the calorie intake, take up 65% of the cultivated area.

Food consumption is projected to grow in the region, with a gradual shift in diet towards animal products.

And when we talk about animals, we are talking about livestock farming, and therefore about agricultural areas dedicated to food production to feed farm animals, which are voracious for water.

Water use is expected to remain at unsustainable levels and dependence on global markets is expected to increase, if nothing changes.

A sustainable turnaround is needed more than ever in the world, and even more so in this environmentally fragile and geopolitically unstable part of the world.

As one of the world’s largest importers of food products, the Middle East faces many uncertainties on both the supply and demand sides.

Uncertainty regarding the supply side is particularly linked to the limits and sustainability of the spaces that lend themselves to production.

On the demand side, the uncertainties are the result of the repercussions of conflicts on the geopolitical level and the instability of the world markets for hydrocarbons, which constitute the first of the region’s sources of economic wealth, which are not sustainable.

This poses increasing food and nutritional problems. A major concern is that the region’s supply of key food products is highly, and increasingly, dependent on international markets.

This situation has led to the adoption of measures that seem inappropriate in view of the resources available in the region. For example, the region is among the poorest in terms of water and arable land in the world, but water prices are among the lowest in the world and the region heavily subsidised water consumption up to about 2% of its GDP.

Regenerating the soil is a real problem, as the region’s crop rotation is difficult to reconcile with the scarcity of water. For example, water-hungry cereals still account for 60% of the harvested area, even though most countries in the region have a comparative advantage in the export of fruit and vegetables.

One of the main reasons for the apparent inconsistency between policy and water scarcity is a vision of food security that aims to reduce dependence on imports, especially of cereals. Yet many countries subsidise the consumption of staple foods and this policy, combined with rising incomes, encourages excessive consumption of starchy foods and sugars, leading to nutritional and health problems such as obesity and diabetes, according to the latest FAO reports.

Food security is affected by conflicts and agricultural choices in this fragile region. It affects 30 million people, particularly in Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Sudan. This food security is more than ever a challenge. The support of public authorities is not enough. We need to put in place strategies and a more virtuous agriculture as in the time of the physiocrats.

The Middle East is a difficult environment for agriculture. Water and soil resources are scarce and land, both irrigated and non-irrigated, is constantly suffering degradation caused by wind and water erosion and unsustainable agricultural practices.

In most countries in the region, farms are quite small and their owners therefore face the same difficulties as small-scale producers around the world.

Climate change in the region is resulting in a warmer and drier climate and increasing water stress.

In addition to the lack of arable land, the cultivated soils are severely degraded, to the extent that they have lost 30-35% of their potential productivity.

Ploughing depletes the soil, causing harmful effects such as a decrease in water and organic matter content, making the soil more vulnerable to wind and water erosion.

Land productivity is low in the region.

It is also very uneven and can only aggravate tensions between states, but also generate problems of political stability in the region.

Let us not forget that the drought in Syria caused a massive rural exodus of the population to Damascus, which contributed to the destabilisation of the regime in 2011.

And Egypt, with its rich soils, irrigated cereal production and almost no grazing land, is clearing more than $6,000 per hectare from its agricultural land, while Bahrain, which is content to grow horticultural and livestock crops, is clearing more than $4,000 per hectare.

Similarly, in Jordan, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, the value of production per hectare amounts to more than $1,000, with a very small area under cereals.

Finally, water is a real issue in the Middle East, beyond conflicts.

The problem stems from the scarcity of the resource, but also from the unsustainable use of surface and underground water, which is causing the depletion of the aquifers on which the Middle East is highly dependent. The unsustainable use of water is encouraged by the policies pursued and by poor governance of the resource, irresponsible as in Iran.

Water prices in the region are, of course, the lowest in the world, as water consumption is subsidised (around 2% of GDP). However, the majority of countries in the region are below the generally acceptable “water scarcity threshold” of 1,000 m3 per capita per year of renewable water resources.

Agriculture is the sector that uses the most water in each country. In addition, improved water management in the agricultural sector is essential to halt land degradation and enable adaptation to climate change.

What would be the medium-term solutions for the agricultural, fisheries and aquaculture sectors? Awareness of environmental problems is fundamental.

This will require the use of the media to enlighten and influence public opinion. Education and training in sustainable problems and solutions are also essential to reverse the trend.

We know that regenerative agriculture is the main way to contribute to the reduction of temperatures by capturing CO2. It is important to better manage water resources and to save and regenerate the soil, through no tillage (ploughing) or minimal tillage, and to ban the use of plant protection products.

The roots remaining from the previous crop stabilise the soil, protecting it from erosion, and the organic matter on the surface improves the fertility and water-holding capacity of the soil.

Seed drills (machines) can be used to insert seeds and fertilisers directly into the soil without ploughing. Admittedly, seed drills are expensive (about $30,000) and the majority of smallholders cannot afford to buy one.

For example, the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas and the Australian government have encouraged the collaboration of local farmers and artisans to produce and sell at an affordable cost nearly 200 seed drills that are now being used in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan.

Moreover, the size of farms in the Middle East is one of the most unequal in the world.

In some countries in the region (Egypt, Yemen, Jordan, Lebanon and Iran), the majority of farms are smaller than one hectare.

At the other end of the spectrum are a relatively small number of large farms owned by a small number of landowners or the state. Because of their size, small farms do not qualify for public support or bank loans.

Sectoral ‘modernisation’ measures have largely excluded small farms from public support: as a result, they are not expanding, are technologically backward and remain poor. There is an urgent need to subsidise these small farms to start the transition.

Soil data are important for farmers and decision-makers. Faced with the outdated soil maps available in the countries of the region, the Institute of Digital Soil Mapping in Amman serves as a regional platform for a global consortium of scientists and researchers.

Thus, on GlobalSoilMap.net you will find data from several sources for all audiences. The data can indicate soil pH, volume of water stored, electrical conductivity and carbon content. They are obtained by remote sensing, near and mid-infrared spectroscopy and field sampling.

The Global Soil Partnership system of the International Network of Soil Information Institutes can also be used.

On this topic as on others, whether it is the urban or rural universe, which says “sustainable” says “green” and “smart”.

It is too often forgotten that the sustainable future depends on this and on the development of another cognitive matrix.

* Political scientist consultant on sustainable development and global warming.

Road map of a civil war: (June 1982-1985)

Posted on October 22, 2008

The third phase (June 1982-1985) started with the invasion of Israel to Lebanon and entering its capital Beirut for two weeks. It ended by the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Sidon and East Sidon to Jezzine in the South.

Israel withdrew its forces in phases from various parts of the lands it occupied. 

The tactics of Israel were to allow the Christian “Lebanese Forcesto infiltrate into mixed regions and let the factions fight it out among themselves when Israel withdraws.

These tactics started a civil war in the Chouf (Druze district) that ended with the evacuation of all Christian villages, and the follow-up civil war in the region of East Sidon that ended with the evacuation of all Christian towns toward Jezzine (under Israel occupation) or East Beirut.

Israel continued its occupation of a major part of South Lebanon until its total defeat in year 2000 (over 20 years of occupation) and the withdrawal of its forces without negotiation or conditions.

This phase witnessed the evacuation of the armed Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) from Beirut to Tunisia, the landing of UN troops constituted from US, France, and Italy into Beirut, the assassination of elected President Bashir Gemayel (before his official inauguration), and the gruesome slaughter of the Palestinian refugees in the camps of Sabra and Shatila in West Beirut , contrary to the guarantees for their safety offered by the USA, France and Israel.  

More than two thousands civilians (Palestinians and Lebanese) were killed within two days and nights, the nights of the camps fully lighted by Israel to resume the slaughter hood.

The multinational forces composed of mainly French and American forces vacated Lebanon after two successful suicide car bomb attacks on their headquarters., leaving hundreds of soldiers from the US and France dead.  

The Shiaa party “Amal” was split, and Hezbollah was created

Battles between these two factions will intensify with Hezbollah taking over the control of Dahieh (South Beirut) and “Amal” (lead by current head of the Parliament Nabih Berri) retaining the administration of what is left of South Lebanon.

Amine Gemmayel was elected President of the Republic with Israel backing. 

The peace treaty with Israel that President Gemayel was negotiating failed miserably in May 17, 1983 and the Lebanese army successfully checked the advances of the Syrian forces in Souk Gharb in the Aley region and which could have left the Presidential Palace exposed at the mercy of direct artillery fires.

The relocation movements within Beirut were the consequences of Syria’s supported militias like “Amal” attacking the Palestinian camps in and around Beirut.

This war against the remaining Palestinian strongholds in West Beirut started in the summer of 1985 and lasted for 5 years, which enfeebled “Amal” (the main Syrian supporter) militias militarily and politically.

Hezbollah was set to broaden its base in the Shia population and become the sole resistance power against Israeli occupation of part of Lebanon, after Syria Hafez Assad prohibited the leftist Lebanese forces to participate in that national and legitimate resistance.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

August 2022
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