Adonis Diaries

Archive for the ‘women’ Category

Steven Toh. Saturday, January 2, 2021

An Interview with Oriana

Note: I have posted several book reviews of Oriana Fallaci, as well as her biography. And now this imaginary interview related to History

Photo: Wikipedia

That day Oriana came out of her room wearing a violet pantsuit, greeted me and sat on a chair in front of a window, resting one of her foot over the thigh of the other.

In her right hand she held a Virginia Slims cigarette and smoked continuously. Although she is tiny, perhaps five feet one and around 90 pounds, her posture gave the impression of a confident, self-assured, and assertive woman.

Her interviews with famous leaders of the world confirmed it all. This is the woman who dares to ask political leaders “brutal questions” in her interviews.

⁹This is the woman who dared to remove her veil while interviewing Khomeini, dared to ask Nguyen Van Thieu “How corrupt are you?”, and dared to accuse to Yasir Arafat “You don’t at all want the peace that everyone is hoping for.” 

Her most popular book “Interview with History” compiled interviews with 14 political leaders, with a cover inserting Rolling Stone magazine quotation “the greatest political interviewer of modern times.”

During my student time I read a few of her interviews that made her famous, with Henry Kissinger, Khomeini, Yasir Arafat and I was fascinated.

Only recently I found this book and was even more fascinated by interviews with the less popular Shah Iran, King Hussein, General Giap and even a rather “not well known” Alexandros Panagoulis.

Before reading them, I had no idea how interesting the interviews were, they gave fresh views and opened up windows to the personality of these politicians. 

So, I came to her apartment in Florence through the famous Ponte Vecchio and sat with this vivacious woman to talk about this book. She answered the questions with a husky voice, Italian accented, and with a lot of arm movements. Despite her temperamental reputation she seemed to me  a caring and sweet person.

Then I shot the first question: 

“Generally speaking, journalism emphasizes on objectivity in the writings in order to portray issues and events in a neutral and unbiased manner, regardless of the journalist opinion or personal beliefs.

While you are internationally renowned for your impassioned, confrontational approach. You became a celebrity because of your interrogative interviews, the imposing questions that made Shah Iran shared his religious view, made General Giap to disclose his military game plan for defeating the Americans in Vietnam, and made Nguyen Van Thieu sometimes had tears in his eyes. “

Oriana:

“I do not feel myself to be, nor will I ever succeed in feeling like, a cold recorder of what I see and hear. On every professional experience I leave shreds of my heart and soul: and I participate in what I see or hear as though the matter concerned me personally and were one on in which I ought to take a stand.

So I did not go to these fourteen people with the detachment of the anatomist or the imperturbable reporter.

⁹ū I went with a thousand feelings of rage, a thousand questions that assailing them were assailing me, and with the hope of understanding in what way, by being in power or opposing it, those people determine our destiny.”

I said:

“In your interview with Shah Iran you indeed assailed him, it was like boxing, you threw punches to him, he defended himself and even threw uppercuts to you. “

Oriana:

“He is a character in which most paradoxical conflicts merge to reward you for your pains with an enigma. He believes in prophetic dreams, in visions, in a childish mysticism, and then goes on to discuss oil like an expert, which he is.

He governs like an absolute monarch, and then refers to his people in the tone of one who believes in them and loves them, by leading a White Revolution that would seem to be making effort to combat illiteracy and the feudal system. He considers women as simply graceful ornaments incapable of thinking like a man, and then strives to give them complete equality of rights and duties. Indeed, in a society where women still wear the veil, he even orders girls to perform military service.”

I said:

“Did you ask him whether he is a dictator?”

Oriana:

“He said he wouldn’t deny it, because in a certain sense he is. Then: ‘But look, to carry through reforms, one can’t help but be authoritarian. Especially when the reforms take place in a country like Iran, where only twenty-five percent of the inhabitants know how to read and write. You mustn’t forget the illiteracy is drastic here- it’ll take at least ten years to eliminate it. 

Believe me when three-quarter of a nation doesn’t know how to read or write, you can provide reforms only by the strictest authoritarianism – otherwise you get nowhere.

If I hadn’t be harsh, I wouldn’t even been able to carry out agrarian reform, it would have been stalemated. Once that had happened, the extreme left would have liquidated the extreme right within a few hours, and it’s not only the White Revolution that would have been finished. I had to do what I did. For instance, order my troops to open fire on anyone opposing the distribution of land.”

I said:

“You said in the book that he was cold during the interview, stiff, his lips were as sealed as a locked door, his eyes as icy as a winter wind, stared at you rigidly and remote.  Yet he was so different when he talked about oil. He lighted up, vibrated, focused, he become another man.”

Oriana:

“He thought he knows everything there is to know about oil, everything.  He said: ‘It’s really my speciality. And I tell you as a specialist that the price of oil will have to go up. There’s no other solution. But it’s a solution you Westerners have brought on yourselves. Or, if you like, a solution brought on by your overcivilized industrial society.

You’ve increased the price of wheat by three hundred percent, and the same for sugar and cement. You’ve sent the price of petrochemicals skyrocketing. You buy crude oil from us and then sell it back to us, refined into petrochemicals, at a hundred times what you paid for it.

You make us pay more for everything, scandalously more, and it’s only fair that from now on you should pay more for oil. Let’s say…. ten times more.’ 

I will never forget him curtly raising his forefinger, while his eyes glared with hatred, to impress on me that the price of oil would go up, up, up ten-fold. I felt nauseated before the gaze and that finger….”

I said:

“Many of the political leaders you interviewed in this book had socialism view, Golda Meir, Willy Brandt, Indira Gandhi, Pietro Nenni to Helder Camara. But their socialism has many different colors, from mild to liberal. Are you a socialist Oriana?”

Oriana:

“No, I am not. Socialism as it’s been applied until now hasn’t worked. Capitalism doesn’t work too. I better quote what Indira Gandhi said in the interview:

‘I don’t see the world as something divided between right and left. Even though we use them, even though I use them myself, these expressions have lost all meanings. I’m not interested in one label or the other— I’m only interested in solving certain problems, in getting where I want to go. I have certain objectives. They are the same objectives that my father had: to give people a higher standard of living, to do away with cancer of poverty, to eliminate the consequences of economic backwardness. I want to succeed. And I want to succeed in the best way possible, without caring whether people call my actions leftist or rightist. 

It’s the same story as when we nationalized the banks. I’m not for nationalization because of the rhetoric of nationalization, or because I see in nationalization the cure-all for every injustice.

⁹I’m for nationalization in cases where it’s necessary.  We realized that the banks had not done any good, the money still ended up in the hands of rich industrialists or friends of the bankers. And we did nationalize the banks, without considering it a socialist gesture or an antisocialist gesture, just a necessary one. Anyone who nationalizes only so as to be considered on the left to me is a fool. 

The word socialism now has so many meanings and interpretations. The Russians call themselves socialists, the Swedes call themselves socialists. And let’s not forget that in Germany there was also a national socialism.

Socialism to me means justice. It means trying to work in a more egalitarian society.”

I said:

“One of your remarkable interviews is with General Giap, the North Vietnam General during the Vietnam war. He was famous for his cruelty, the French had fallen into his traps full of poisonous bees, his pits full of snakes, or they were blown-up by booby traps hidden corpses abandoned by the wayside, and in 1954 he defeated French at Dien Bien Phu. He was also feared by the Americans, for his courage Ho Chi Minh used to call him Kui or Devil.  

When you met him, did you find him to be a frightening person?

Oriana:

“I was astonished first of all at how short he was, less than 5 feet, and his body was fat. His face was swollen and covered with little blue veins that made him look purple. No, it was not an extremely likable face. Perhaps of the purple color, perhaps because of those uncertain outlines, it cost you some effort to keep looking at him, where the things you found were scarcely interesting. The huge mouth full of tiny teeth, the flattened nose enlarged by two huge nostrils, the forehead that stopped at the middle of his skull in a mop of black hair…. “

I said:

“Did he boast about his fighting strategy?”

Oriana:

“He said that the Americans underestimated the spirit of the people that knows how to fight for a just cause, to save its homeland from the invader. The war in Vietnam is not a question of numbers and well-equipped soldiers, that all doesn’t solve the problem. When a whole people rebels, there’s nothing you can do, and there’s no wealth in the world that can liquidate it.

8Their enemies aren’t good soldiers, because they don’t believe in what they’re doing and therefore they lack any combat spirit. 

Oh, this isn’t a war that you resolve in a few years. In a war against the United States, you need time, time…..

The Americans will be defeated in time, by getting tired. And in order to tire them, we have to go on, to last…. For a long time: ten, fifteen, twenty, fifty years. Until we achieve total victory, as our president, Ho Chi Minh, said. Yes! Even twenty even fifty years! We’re not in a hurry, we’re not afraid.”

I said:

“Your interview with General Giap caught Henry Kissinger’s attention, thus he invited you for an interview.  Very rarely does he grant personal interviews, he speaks only at press conferences arranged by the administration. What did he say about the Giap’s interview?”

Oriana:

“He didn’t speak about General Giap, instead he asked me about Giap, Thieu and other Vietnamese generals. He even asked me: ‘What do I think will happen in Vietnam with the cease-fire?’ On Vietnam he could not tell me anything much, and I am amazed that he said: that whether the war to end or go on did not depend only on him, and he could not allow himself the luxury of compromising everything by an unnecessary word.

He said: ‘Don’t ask me that. I have to keep to what I said publicly ten days ago… I cannot, I must not consider an hypothesis that I do not think will happen, an hypothesis that should not happen. I can only tell you that we are determined to have this peace, and that in any case we will have it, in the shortest time possible after my next meeting with Le Duc Tho.”

I said:

“Did Henry Kissinger say whether the Vietnam war was a useless war?”

Oriana:

“He said he agreed: ‘But let’s not forget that the reason why we entered this war was to keep the South from being gobbled up by the North, it was to permit the South to remain the South. Of course, by that I don’t mean that this was our only objective…. It was also something more…. But today I am not in the position to judge whether the war in Vietnam has been just or not, whether our getting into it was useful or useless. 

After all, my role, our role, has been to reduce more and more the degree to which America was involved in the war, so as then to the end the war. And it must be ended in accordance with some principle.

In the final analysis, history will say who did more: those who operated by criticizing and nothing else, or we who tried to reduce the war and then ended it. Yes, the verdict is up to history.”

I said:

“Now, the last part of your book is an interview with Alexandros Panagoulis, a Greek politician and poet, who actively participated against the Greek military junta, also known as the Regime of the Colonels. He became famous for his attempt to assassinate dictator Georgios Papadopoulos on 13 August 1968, but also for the torture to which he was subjected during his detention. 

Reading this interview, the readers couldn’t help but to notice that you highly admired him, even an amorous way.”

Oriana:

“That day and night in Athens, just two days after a general political amnesty had resurrected Alexandros Panagoulis from prison, I met him for this interview and fell in love with him. “

I said:

“Panagoulis was the real thing: A hero who had been condemned to death for attempting to assassinate a dictator. He only regretted having failed. Do you see him as a hero?”

Oriana:

“He said:’ I’m not a hero and I don’t feel like a symbol . . . I’m so afraid of disappointing all of you who see so many things in me! Oh, if only you could succeed in seeing in me only a man!’

I said:

“And you asked him: ’Alekos, what does it mean to be a man?”

Oriana:

“He said: ’It means to have courage, to have dignity. It means to love without allowing love to become an anchor. It means to struggle and to win. . . . And for you, what is a man?’

I answered him: ‘I would say that a man is what you are, Alekos.”

And so did the interview end. Arrivederci Oriana….

THE END

Ready or not, we need to start talking about menopause in the workplace

By Lisa DeShantz-Cook. Senior editor, ThinkHR. May 3, 2021. (Borrowed from Quartz with a few editing)

What is menopause anyway?

Speaking of menopause and its precursor perimenopause aloud can clear a room.

While everyone knows it’s something we have to deal with, no one wants to actually talk about it—especially Not in the workplace, and certainly not in mixed company.

But in this era of bringing our whole selves to work (whether that’s in the physical presence of our coworkers or from our home workspaces), it’s high time we introduced the topic.

Menopause, meet the workplace. Workplace, say hello to menopause.

Employers are okay discussing and making accommodations for pregnancy and breastfeeding, but menopause seems somehow different, a workplace taboo best swept under the proverbial carpet. As a result, they’re missing opportunities to support us.

What is menopause?

Menopause isn’t just a time when we stop having periods. A whole host of symptoms related to menopause can affect us in our 40s, 50s, and into our 60s.

These symptoms include hot flashes, cognitive changes, sleep issues, depression, anxiety, stress and burnout, to name just a few.

Mind you that Menopause can occur earlier due to certain health conditions, surgery, or chemotherapy.

My own experience with menopause just happened to coincide with a worldwide pandemic. With work travel effectively shut down, I could suffer symptoms over video meetings, where luckily my co-workers were unlikely to notice my pounding heart and shirt-soaking hot flashes.

Experiencing the indignities alone in my home office, and being able to shut off my video camera to run outside, is a luxury many of my friends aren’t afforded.

When menopause arrives, we may be at an age where we may have more time to devote to work or other interests now that children may be off to college or grown and gone.

We might also have fewer responsibilities outside of work, so more time to dedicate to work, education, certification, or other interests.

Conversely, menopause can happen when we have even more demands—like caring for older or ill parents or family members—on top of other family stressors.

Menopause can be a cruel twist in a life that might just be hitting its stride or yet another challenge on top of an overfilled plate.

If you’re in it, you know. You’ve probably raced into a meeting and gotten situated at the table, only to be overtaken by the internal fire that signifies an oncoming hot flash—and had to race for the door.

Your co-workers might be confused by your constant fanning, or your need for dressing in umpteen layers and peeling them off at seemingly random times. You might have snapped at someone for little reason or pushed past someone in the hallway in a rush for fresh air.

Worse still is the brain fog.

Routine tasks might get hazy, or you may have forgotten where you were in the middle of a meeting or presentation, or dropped the ball on your part of a team project. These slips can be brutal to your ego, but if you’re supported in the workplace, they don’t have to derail your career.

How employers can support women going through menopause

Menopause does affect the workforce—recent studies show 20% of the current workforce is experiencing it—so employers should acknowledge it.

Here’s how they can begin:

  • First and foremost, actively work to demystify and destigmatize this very normal life phase.
  • Encourage open and honest discussion about menopause and its side effects. Acknowledging that symptoms can be both emotionally and physically challenging can go a long way.
  • Build policies that help us feel supported in all phases of our work life, and facilitate conversations that help co-workers and managers understand when support and understanding is needed.
  • Create a safe space for us to express our needs to managers and supervisors, such as flexible hours if sleep is being interrupted, access to fresh air during the workday, proximity to bathrooms, or breaks in meetings. Our having to say “I’m having a hot flash and need to step away” shouldn’t be met with ridicule, shame, or personal questions.
  • Make room for menopause in workplace health programs.
  • Is there a place to get information on menopause for those experiencing it or those wishing to provide support? Does the employee assistance program (EAP) offer guidance? Do health and wellness talks include information about menopause?
  • Educate managers on menopause, symptoms, accommodations, and appropriate support, and teach them what they can do to keep their employees experiencing menopause symptoms engaged, productive, challenged, and feeling valued.

If those of us experiencing menopause aren’t acknowledged and supported by workplace policies and initiatives, we’ll feel alienated, invisible, less valued, and may bow out of the workforce well before we’re ready, taking with us valuable wisdom and experience.

Support from company leaders, openness and efforts to destigmatize menopause in the workplace, and employer policies and programs that support our health at all ages benefit everyone.

Why this rich culture still untouchable to investigation?

Mind you that Ignorance(Jahiliya) period mentioned in Islamic rhetorics meant period of the people still Not believing in the monotheistic religions

Posted on April 2, 2010

Islam calendar starts in 622 AC, the date the Prophet Muhammad fled to Medina (Yathreb) from Mecca.

The past or before date zero, or the culture and tradition of pre-Islamic Arabian Peninsula, has been practically untouched by researchers and Islamic investigators. though countless wonderful poems of that period are published and even much richer than poems written after that period.

The period prior to 622 or year one of “Hegire” is lumped as the period of ignorance (Jahiliyya) by Muslims.

The Arab World still teaches pre-Islamic poetry and poets; it is mostly through these poems that the “Arabs” emulated the vocabulary and were acquainted with the very rich parts of pre-Islamic culture, traditions, and customs.

Fact is, you cannot understand Islam without the contexts that pressured the prophet Muhammad to compromise with the multitude of tribes allied to Byzantium and Persia empires.

We can claim that a curtain (hijab) has descended on pre-Islamic period simultaneously with the veil that descended on women after the Prophet death.

Thus, women were banished from political power and dealing with political affairs in public, two decades after Muhammad’s death. In these first 3 decades, the beloved youngest wife Aisha of Muhammad was the most learned in Islamic laws and the context in which they were voiced.

Aisha taught many generations of women on their Rights and how to dictate themselves the marriage contracts…and the society followed in these “liberal” new customs of free meetings and gathering, free discussions and poetic jousts…and newer fashions among the women.

And Aisha confronted many faked and false Hadiths (stories of the Prophet behavior and activities) until her death at the age of around 60.

This is no coincidence that Islam after Muhammad’s death had made the connection between pulling a curtain on the Jahiliyya period and the veiling of women in society; removing women from the public political landscape.

During Jahiliyya, each Arabic tribe worshiped idols made of wood or stone; there were many Jewish and “heretic” Christian-Jew sects (as labeled by Christian Orthodox Byzantine Empire) in Arabia and in Mecca.

The 3 most potent and powerful idols were female idols such as Al Uzza, Manat, and Al Lat.  Although the tribes made their yearly pilgrimage to Mecca where the Kaaba contained over 360 idols, this pilgrimage was mainly for doing commerce and enjoying the weeklong festivities and debauchery. 

The main pilgrimage (hajj) for the powerful tribes was to their preferred idols in other locations and towns.

The pragmatic nomads in the Arabian Peninsula and the neighboring deserts have created idols commensurate to their individualistic needs to vent their frustrations with periodic sacrifices, including “handicapped” babies of both genders.

During Muhammad’s time, baby girls were mostly the sacrificial human kind by poor families, especially in periods of great food distress.

Since violence, revenge, and frequent wars “razzias” against other clans were the norm for looting of animals, camels, and slave girls…  powerful female goddesses were purchased and erected for pilgrimage as scapegoats to the tribes’ violent activities.

Thus, female goddesses represented violence, symbol that violence and revenge are the mark of female behavior and dark spirit.

For example, goddess Manat (death) was the oldest idol and was worshiped by the tribes of Aws and Khazraj that inhabited the region of Yathreb, later called Medina (the first Islam City-State).  The original meaning of Manat is taken from a Semitic root meaning “counting of the days of life” that connote death (manya).

The temple of Manat was a natural rock (sakhra) on the coast between Mecca and Yathreb; the two tribes considered that the pilgrimage was not complete until they stopped at the temple of Manat where they shaved their head and offered sacrifices. Manat was a powerful goddess dictator (taghia) and swords were deposited in her temple.

The Prophet gave his nephew Ali bin Abi Taleb the two swords in the temple after it was demolished; one of the sword was called Zulfiqar. 

Representatives of the tribes of Aws and Khazradj had extended permission to Muhammad, after three years of negotiation, to settle in Yathreb with his converts after the tribes of Mecca decided to chase them out.

The other female goddess was Al Lat and was worshiped in Taif, a region on the eastern shores facing Persia.  The main tribe of Taif, the Banu Thaqif, erected square walls around the rock of Al Lat.  Most desert tribes, all the way to Palmyra in northern Syria, worshiped this goddess.

Al Lat had all the attributes of goddess Athena wearing battle helmet, breastplate, armor, and holding a lance.  Banu Thaqif was one of the latest tribes to submit to Allah because Muhammad failed at several expeditions to enter Taif.

Actually, it was Taif that was the preferred destination to Muhammad when he decided to flee Mecca but he was chased out of Taif after his failed negotiation to settle there.

The third most powerful “taghia” goddess was Al Uzza (dignity, physical force and power); the most powerful tribe of Quraich in Mecca consecrated her. 

Al Uzza was the most violent divine warrior and was represented in the form of a tree or three acacias trees and located way up north in Nakhla as Shamiya on the way to Iraq’s caravans.

The temple of Al Uzza was equipped with a slaughtering alter (manhar) called “ghabghab”.  General Khaled bin Al Walid was ordered to destroy the temple of Al Uzza in 630 after Muhammad entered Mecca peacefully as the victor.

General Al Walid was the Quraish leader who defeated Muhammad’s troops in the battle of Uhud; this failed campaign of the Prophet generated 3 years of civil unrest in the City-State of Medina and most of the verses that abridged female equal rights that were previously gained in the first four years.

Note: About ten years after Muhammad’s death, the Arabic Islamic Empire had extended vastly.

The governor Abu Mussa al Ach3ari wrote to the second caliph Omar bin Al Khattab: “You sent me several letters that were not dated.” Omar assembled a council to set up a calendar.

A few opted to using the Byzantium calendar, others the Persian calendar, but the majority recognized that a calendar means power and wanted an Arabic/Islamic calendar.

The discussions led to adopting the date of the Prophet’s immigration to Medina in 622 AC as Date Zero. Omar had said: “this is the year that divided truth from falsehood.”

Islam lunar calendar is of 354 days and started with the month of “Muharram”; the pre-Islamic particular month that prohibited wars and revenge among clans.

In pre-Islam, the tribes used to add one month on the third year for calibration with their commercial dealings. Muhammad forbid to add this month; thus, the Islamic calendar is one year ahead for every 33 Christian years since the year 622.

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.”

Related Articles

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

How I Became Fun And Thin Mom!

Well, this article turned out to be a tacit advertisement. What the heck: it is a story

08/12/2020healthyusepro

How I turned into an enjoyable and skinny mother!

For me, each Saturday morning felt like I used to be reliving a scene from the basic film “Groundhog Day.”

I might head out for our native park with my 5-year-old daughter in tow, filled with concepts on how we might enjoy on the swings, happening the slides and enjoying the ball. Then, simply as we might arrive, I might instantly spot the steely stares of different mothers.

You realize the kind – younger, blonde, skinny and completely excellent.

I might hear it: Their comfortable giggles, their murmured whispers. Due to her age, my daughter was blissful – and fortunately – unaware of what was taking place.

I did know.

I used to be fats. And these different mothers had been by no means going to let me overlook it.

Regardless of the uncomfortable and awkward environment, I might press on.

With my daughter cheerfully shouting, “C’mon Mother,” I might attempt to sustain along with her, though I struggled. Due to my weight, I had little power and I drained quickly.

It was embarrassing once I couldn’t match by way of a number of the plastic tunnels, or when the playground tools would bend underneath the burden of my physique.

I didn’t need it to be like this. So, sooner or later I made a decision to make a change. Nevertheless, as a busy working mother, I didn’t have time to depend on energy, meal prep or go to the fitness center day-after-day. I used to be at a loss for what to do.

Sitting within the dentist’s workplace-ready room sooner or later, with the arms of the chair I used to be sitting in digging uncomfortably digging into my thick thighs, I flipped by way of cellphone and got here throughout a video that modified my life.

In line with the video, this superb formulation would assist me to burn fats for power and never carbohydrates.

That concept sounded interesting:  ketosis is a course of the place your physique burns power from fats cells as a substitute for carbs.

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  • Whereas nonetheless having fun with the meals you like…and WITHOUT having to undergo the dreaded “Keto Flu”

After I began my journey with KetosisNOW, I wasn’t seeking to get a scorching physique. Though that precisely what I ended up with!

How I Became Fun And Thin Mom!

Emma misplaced 53lbs in 2 months

Now once I go to the park or the playground, nobody is laughing at me. They could be staring, but it surely is not as a result of I resembling a whale, it’s as a result of they wish to be like me! Are you able to think about it?

I really like going to the park each Saturday and my little lady thinks I’m the best mother ever! We’re capable of race across the playground enjoying a sport of tag, I can crawl by way of these dreaded tunnels in document time and, consider it or not, most days she is worn out and able to head residence earlier than I’m.

I really like my new life and suggest KetosisNOW to everybody who will pay attention to it.

KetosisNOW melted away my extra kilos. Expertise the transformation for yourself by clicking the hyperlink under.

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… the identical formulation that Emma and Olivia used to get their superb outcomes…

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.

Farewell Beirut (Book review, part 2)

Posted on November 16, 2008

Note: Paragraphs in parentheses are my own interjections.  The names and characters in Mai’s manuscript are not fictitious; she personally eye witness the stories.

The main theme in “Farewell Beirut” is “revenge” and the associated concepts of honor, genocides, nationalism, heroes, traitors, martyrdom, hate, love and the fundamental human emotions that might be interpreted differently through the ages, periods and civilizations… but where the moral values of wrong and right should not be personal matters of point of vues.

In part 1, I related the stories of “Um Ali”, “Said”, “Abu Firas”, and “Hashem”. 

This part would be more related to fundamental questions that Mai Ghoussoub tried to struggle with and to investigate moral issues.

But first, I present the story of Fadwa.

“Fadwa” was sent overseas in 1916 in order to avoid famine and be married to Salem.  In those years parents sent their children by sea, supposedly destined to “America” (USA or Latin America) because they paid high fees.

Instead, and frequently the ship Captains landed them instead in Africa telling them “We reached America, get down” And thus, many Lebanese ended in Africa and kept sending letters to their folks not daring to acknowledge their wrong destinations, and parents resumed sending people to “America”. 

The mother of Fadwa reminded her daughter, before sailing, that she is from a much higher social stratum than her future husband Salem and that Fadwa should remind her husband of that difference. 

Fadwa landed in Ghana (Africa) and had five boys and one girl and she expected Salem to worship her for giving him so many boys. 

Fadwa refrained from mingling with the Lebanese and Syrian families on account that she is of a higher status and had many helpers at home. 

When Ghana got its independence Fadwa was sent back to Lebanon with all her children for fear of reprisals. 

At the airport, the immigrating ladies made sure that Fadwa overhears their conversations that Salem was cheating on her and that he had married an African girl and has African offspring. 

Salem joined Fadwa a month later looking much older and deprived of wealth; but he didn’t expect the hatred and all consuming feeling of revenge that were eating up Fadwa. 

The couple slept in separate beds and Fadwa never called her husband by his name or even faced him. Salem was the “He” or the “decrepit old man”.

Salem’s old friends were admonished never to pay him further visits. Salem was homesick to Ghana because he spent most of his life there and the surrounding family was not cheerful.  Fadwa never smiled and children were scared of her outbursts and rigidity. 

When Salem became handicapped, Fadwa confined him for perpetuity in the house and never cooked his preferred dishes and locked on the sweets and chocolates on grounds that they are forbidden to his health.  Salem died miserably. 

Fadwa died shortly after Salem, totally frustrated and a very unhappy old lady that could not feel that the fruits of her revenge were satisfactory.

The author Mai returned to visit Lebanon after the civil war.  She is repainting her apartment to erase the slogans that militias have painted over the walls; she kept the slogan “Those who teach us lessons in moral values are hypocrite and insolent”.

In the seventies, saying that a person is sure of his opinion was a bad connotation of someone who refuses to detach from traditions.  It was a period when moral issues were not absolute: a person had to take into consideration the environment, the period, and all the facet of the story. 

Opting for neutral stands were cherished values. That was fine and dandy until you are confronted with these sample accidents: thousands of women raped in Bosnia, racist gangs killing whole families in London, cutting off the sexual parts of a 4-year old girl by its family living in Paris according to customs… 

Then you realize that wrong and right are no longer personal opinions.  Vaclav Havel said “The concepts of justice, honor and disloyalty are palpable nowadays”

A chapter compared the act of martyrdoms of the young 16 year-old Lebanese girl Nouha Samaan against the Israeli invaders in South Lebanon and Flora in 10th century Andalusia (Spain).

(Between 1983-87, at least 3 young girls committed suicide acts against the Israeli forces of occupations, such as Sanaa Mheidly, before the young males replaced women).

In Flora’s period, Spain was ruled by the “Arabs” and mostly the Muslims from Morocco and it enjoyed a long period of prosperity and cultural development and tolerance for other religions and ethnic immigrants. 

The mother of Flora was Catholic and her father a Muslim and they lived in Cordoba.

By the age of 16 Flora became a ferocious, one sided Catholic zealot; she proclaimed in front of the tolerant judge that the Prophet Muhammad is a cheat and the devil. 

The judge had the right to execute her but let her go.  Flora would not desist. She associated with the bigot preacher Yologious who claimed that the educated Catholics have taken the road to perdition: instead of focusing their readings solely on the Bible “they are reading literary manuscripts, scientific books, learning to write well and composing poems”. 

Many young disciples of Yologious were harangued to sacrifice their lives for Catholicism and finally Flora had to be executed. 

At that time Europe needed “martyrs” while the Muslims were tolerant.  In this century Europe stopped commemorating its “martyrs” while the Muslim World need “martyrs” for their struggle. (To be continued)

The “Phenomenal Journey” of Oscar- and BAFTA-Nominated Short ‘The Present’

Farah Nabulsi discusses her directorial debut, which follows a father and daughter forced to navigate Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank.

Her film The Present is up for the biggest film awards on both sides of the Atlantic. 

For the first time in years, it seemed that the array of BAFTA nominees isn’t simply a mirror image of those across the Atlantic.

A few films were acknowledged by both sets of voters. NomadlandThe FatherPromising Young Woman and Sound of Metal all landed multiple BAFTA and Oscar nominations.

THE PRESENT and inset of director Farah Nabulsi

Courtesy of Farah Nabulsi

The Present — nominated for the best live-action short Oscar and the British short film BAFTA (and the only short up for both) — is the directorial debut of Farah Nabulsi and a film that has quietly been gathering steam since it first bowed in France’s Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival in early 2020, where it won the audience award.

For Nabulsi, a former investment banker who left the corporate world in 2016 to focus on filmmaking, just to screen at the festival would have been enough.

“Even being officially selected, I was like OK, I’m done,” she tells The Hollywood Reporter from London. “Then we won the audience award, and it was like, wow, first festival premiere, won the audience award, done.”

But the film wasn’t nearly done. 

The Present then screened at the Cleveland Film Festival, winning the all-important Oscar-qualifying jury award, and would carry on to around 40 more international festivals, picking up in excess of 20 top prizes.

In what Nabulsi says “ties it all up in a perfect bow,” in January — just two weeks before the Oscar shortlists were announced and almost exactly a year since its first festival premiere — the film won its second Academy-qualifying award, this time at Australia’s Flickerfest festival.

By this time, the film had also been acquired by Netflix (for worldwide excluding France and Japan), although the streamer kept quiet about the deal until the the Oscar nominations were announced.

“So the whole journey has been phenomenal,” says Nabulsi. “Except that I’ve experienced the majority of it — with the exception of Clermont — from my couch.”

At 24 minutes longThe Present has an incredibly simple premise, following a man who sets out with his young daughter to buy his wife an anniversary gift (a not-quite-so-romantic yet highly practical fridge).

But it’s not so straightforward.

The man is Palestinian (played by renowned screen and stage star Saleh Bakri) and lives in the West Bank near Bethlehem.

And his shopping trip soon becomes a series of demoralizing frustrations as he’s forced to navigate Israeli checkpoints, heavily armed IDF soldiers and segregated roads, spending hours waiting behind bars as his ID is checked and rechecked, and renegotiating what would otherwise be a simple route as army roadblocks spring up unannounced.

The powerful impact of the film comes from the simplicity of his task and the hurdles put up in his way (at one point he pleads with an Israeli soldier to let him pass, saying, “I just want to go home, my house is just there,” pointing up a hill).

Nabulsi, a British-born Palestinian, says she’s visited the West Bank numerous times and experienced these checkpoints, big and small, more than 100 of which are scattered across the occupied territories.

However, the ultimate inspiration for her story came from a friend living in Hebron, where an entire section of the ancient city, known as Shuhada Street, is closed off to its Arab population.

“This guy lives on Shuhada Street and has a checkpoint 80 meters from his house,” she says. “So no matter where he wants to go, what he wants to do, who he wants to see or what he wants to get, he has to go through a checkpoint.”

And this checkpoint, Nabulsi notes, is a particular size, restricting what can be brought through.

“If it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t go,” she says. So if her friend wanted a new couch or a fridge, it just wouldn’t be possible.

“In theory, you can ask for permission, but these checkpoints aren’t here to make lives easier: they exist to deliberately frustrate and humiliate and to forcefully encourage” the Palestinians to leave.

So Nabulsi wrote her story and co-scripted the film with Palestinian poet and filmmaker Hind Shoufani (who also served as editor).

From day one, she says she’d been picturing Bakri — known for his collaborations with Annemarie Jacir and for playing Elia Suleiman’s father in The Time That Remains — as her lead, needing someone who could “understand at his core” what the role was about and bring the sort of “dignity and intensity” it needed.

Thankfully, Shoufani knew Bakri, so introductions were made, a script was sent and that was that. Says Nabulsi: “The world conspired!”

Production took place in 2019 around Bethlehem, with scenes filmed at the real-life Checkpoint 300 — a notoriously volatile and busy crossing Nabulsi describes as “worse than a battery farm” and where it can sometimes take more than three hours to pass through in rush hour — and at a fake checkpoint built especially for the film.

The team did such a good job on the fake checkpoint that the local Palestinian communities genuinely thought it had been erected by the Israeli army, with Nabulsi forced to send out runners to assure them that it wasn’t real.

“We had cars turning around and people coming out, the rumors were spreading…. I felt terrible, but it did mean that, authentically, we did an awesome job!”

Anyone who has visited the West Bank or followed the ongoing political situation inside the Israeli-occupied territories with any detail will no doubt be very much aware of the checkpoints, which have been widely criticized by human rights groups for many years.

But Nabulsi notes that the vast majority of the audiences across the international festivals where The Present has screened had little or no idea about this “reality on the ground,” with her film helping generate a lot of interest, intrigue, empathy, questions and contemplation.

“It really seems to have resonated with the audience and they’ve rewarded it.”

Having written and produced three well-received earlier shorts about the realities and injustices facing Palestinians — Nightmare of GazaToday They Took My Son and Oceans of Injustice, garnering praise from the likes of John Pilger, Ken Loach, Noam Chomsky and Alice Walker — the filmmaker claims her aim is to create work that raises the global social conscious.

“I want to make films that do what all great films should do, which is to give audiences an emotional experience,” says Nabulsi, who is next prepping her first feature, The Teacher, with Bakri set to star again.

“But I also want to make films that speak to me as a human being, as a filmmaker, as someone with Palestinian origin, speaks to my identity.”

But what of the all-important (and potentially soon-to-be Oscar-winning) fridge, last seen being pushed away from an Israel checkpoint and into the dark?

“It’s just so sweet in Palestine — it was an actual brand-new fridge that a Palestinian from a fridge shop said we could use. He loaned it to us.”

For This Palestinian Cook, The Kitchen Is A ‘Powerful Place’ — Not A ‘Life Sentence’

Amy Salit and Thea Chaloner produced and edited the audio of this interview. Bridget Bentz and Molly Seavy-Nesper adapted it for the Web.

TERRY GROSS April 7, 20211:48 PM ETHeard on Fresh Air

Growing up in East Jerusalem, Palestinian cookbook author Reem Kassis never expected to enter the food industry. For her, the kitchen represented a “life sentence” for women.

Instead, Kassis moved to the U.S. when she was 17, first studying business at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and then at the London School of Economics.

It wasn’t until she had a child that she began to see the kitchen as a “powerful place” where she could share important stories about food and culture with her daughter.

“I started compiling my family’s recipes and stories together, almost as a way for her to have a piece of home wherever she ended up in the world,” Kassis says.

“But once I did that and I started to see all those pieces coming together, I realized, yes, these are my family’s recipes, these are my family’s stories, but taken together as a whole, they could be the story of any and every Palestinian family.

Cookbook author Reem Kassis says that many foods that are considered Middle Eastern or Israeli actually originated as Palestinian dishes. Dan Perez/Phaidon Press

THE SALT

Give Chickpeas A Chance: Why Hummus Unites, And Divides, The Mideast

Kassis says that many foods that are considered Middle Eastern or Israeli actually originated as Palestinian dishes. Her first cookbook, The Palestinian Table, chronicled the history of Palestinian food — along with some of her personal history.

In her new book, The Arabesque TableKassis expands the focus to the cross-cultural culinary history of the Arab world.


Interview Highlights

The Arabesque Table by Reem KassisEnlarge this imagePhaidon Press

On her identity as a Palestinian being inherently political

It’s comical because all it takes is for me to use the word “Palestinian” and anything that I want to talk about — no matter how far removed from politics — suddenly is political.

But at the same time … as Palestinians, as a people that do live under occupation, who are fighting for justice, it’s hard to separate that reality from anything else that we do.

Every person goes about it in a different way. I am in the food and writing world, and that’s how I try to address or deal with that issue, from that angle.

And someone else in a different sphere might deal with it from a different angle. … It can be a land mine, but it shouldn’t be. … Food is the lowest common denominator we all have. … Regardless of where you come from or what religion you are or what your beliefs are, you have to eat. But do I believe that food can bring people together? I think that’s a stretch.

On the controversy about the origin of hummus

Hummus itself is controversial abroad because just a few decades ago, nobody knew what it was. When my husband would take it to school, people would make fun of him for eating this beige paste.

Now, suddenly, since the late ’80s, it’s become much more popular and recognized abroad as Israeli. And I think that’s where the controversy happens. …

This is a dish that is inherently Near Eastern, and abroad it’s being marketed as Israeli — without any mention to those origins. … When I’m here and I see something that I know is such an important part of my culinary identity being appropriated as Israeli, it feels almost like adding insult to injury and willfully saying that I don’t exist, that I don’t have a past, that I was never there or part of the history.

So I’ve said this before, it’s not about the chickpea itself, it’s not about the dish, it’s more about what that omission signifies to people like me who are Palestinian, who see our history being sidestepped completely and ignored abroad.

On the Arabic bagel

Enlarge this image

Kassis explores the cross-cultural culinary history of the Arab world in her cookbook The Arabesque Table. Shown above (clockwise from top left): sujuk fried eggs; “secret” Shankleesh salad; fried Arabic white cheese; and labneh, red chili and egg salad. Dan Perez /Phaidon Press

I actually also always assumed it originated with the Ashkenazi communities in Eastern Europe. And then I started doing the research for this book … and part of the research involved looking through ancient medieval Arabic cookbooks.

And I’m flipping through one of them from the 13th century, and there in a chapter on bread, I see a section on ka’ak, which is a ring-shaped dough that Arabs used to make centuries ago. And I’m reading, and in there it says, “Take these ring-shaped doughs, put them on a dowel, boil them in water and then bake them.” And that essentially is what a bagel is today.

So once you start digging deeper, you realize the bagel can be traced back, and this is done by a lot of Jewish researchers, they trace it back to Poland in the 16th century.

In Poland, however, they trace it back to their royal family to the 13th century. And then when you look, who married into that royal family, it was a woman who came from Bari, Italy, and Bari, Italy, in the Middle Ages was … [a] stronghold of the Islamic Empire, and from there, the cuisine of Europe was influenced heavily by Arab traders and the conquest of that region.

So you start to see how the bagel, in its original form, traveled across the world. And then you also see very similar versions of it in China where the trade routes also went.

And then you realized the thing connecting all those was their origin in those Arabic cookbooks, that fact of boiling a piece of dough before baking it.

On what inspired her to start cooking the Arab dishes from her childhood

I think a lot of times you take things for granted as a child — and I definitely did that with my mother’s cooking.

My daughters do the same with mine. But once I left and I arrived in the U.S., there was a bit of culture shock for me. Part of it was seeing how I’m eating on my own in the dining halls.

There isn’t that familial feeling of having everyone eating together and then the food itself. I started to crave it. I missed it. I missed not only the taste and the flavor, but the entire feeling around it.

And that’s when I started actually tinkering with cooking, and I would call my mother and ask her for recipes. So it started out simple.

I remember the first dish that I wanted to make was maqluba, that inverted rice and vegetable dish. … I think I called her maybe 15 times in the span of two hours, [and] at one point she said, “It’s cheaper for me to fly over and cook it for you than to have to keep answering your questions about how to make it!”

But I remember eating it then, and somehow it gave me a sense of satisfaction of being closer to home. And even if just for a little bit, that nostalgia that I had was placated just by eating that dish.

On za’atar seasoning (wild thyme)

Za’atar: A Spice Mix With “Biblical Roots”? And Brain Food Reputation

Za’atar is an herb in and of itself, and it’s from the oregano family. What ends up happening here is when people say za’atar, they are referring to the condiment made from that herb, mixed with sumac, sesame and salt.

And sometimes people will call it thyme, but it’s actually not thyme at all. It is much, much closer to oregano than it is to thyme. And the reason it’s misunderstood is people probably don’t realize it’s an actual plant.

So we do make a condiment from that plant, and we creatively call it by the same name as the plant, but we also use it in other applications. We use it in doughs, different types of bread and pastries. We use it to make teas as well.

And of course, the condiment is probably the most widely used and recognized … mixed with sumac, sesame seed and salt, and it’s probably present on every table in any Palestinian, Syrian, Lebanese, Jordanian household (The One people and one Nation).

And it’s your go-to breakfast: You dip pita bread in olive oil and za’atar, and you’re good to go.

On developing a friendship with Israeli chef Michael Solomonov (known for his award-winning Philadelphia restaurant, Zahav)

The first time I ever ate at Zahav … [I had] a dish that very much reminded me of one that my mother makes, freekeh.

And I remember part of me feeling satisfied that I had eaten this dish that tasted of home and another part had felt extremely frustrated. Why am I eating the best Palestinian dish I’ve had since coming to the U.S. in an Israeli restaurant?

For Israeli-Born Chef, Hummus And ‘Tehina’ Are A Bridge To Home

And then you fast-forward 10 years, and I’m writing this book on the one hand, yes, to safeguard our culture for my daughter and our culinary history, but in part also to show the world that this is our food that we’ve been eating for generations before Israel was even a state.

When my book came out, I sent Mike [Solomonov] a copy of the book with a handwritten letter in part to say, “This is our food. This is what we’ve been cooking.” …

And I think he was very touched by that. I didn’t expect to hear from him when I sent the book, but he reached out and said, “I was very moved by your book,” and he wanted to meet for coffee. And we did.

And I was surprised to realize how many things get lost in translation. You see Mike, and you think he’s the face of Israeli cuisine. He must deny the Palestinian origins of the food he serves. He must be anti-Palestinian, so on and so forth. And once you get to know someone on an individual level, you start to realize how many misconceptions you probably hold of that person. And that’s the beginning of that friendship.

Amy Salit and Thea Chaloner produced and edited the audio of this interview. Bridget Bentz and Molly Seavy-Nesper adapted it for the Web.

Lyrics of Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines

Posted  on September 21, 2013

Sezin Koehler posted this Sept. 18, 2013:

Robin Thicke’s summer hit Blurred Lines addresses what he considers to be sounds like a grey area between consensual sex and assault.

The images in this post place the song into a real-life context.  

They are from Project Unbreakable, an online photo essay exhibit, and feature images of women and men holding signs with sentences that their rapist said before, during, or after their assault.   

Let’s begin.

I know you want it.

Thicke sings “I know you want it,” a phrase that many sexual assault survivors report their rapists saying to justify their actions, as demonstrated over and over in the Project Unbreakable testimonials.

1
2

You’re a good girl.

Thicke further sings “You’re a good girl,” suggesting that a good girl won’t show her reciprocal desire (if it exists).

This becomes further proof in his mind that she wants sex: for good girls, silence is consent and “no” really means “yes.”

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Calling an adult a “good girl” in this context resonates with the virgin/whore dichotomy.

The implication in Blurred Lines is that because the woman is not responding to a man’s sexual advances, which of course are irresistible, she’s hiding her true sexual desire under a façade of disinterest.

Thicke is singing about forcing a woman to perform both the good girl and bad girl roles in order to satisfy the man’s desires.

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Thicke and company, as all-knowing patriarchs, will give her what he knows she wants (sex), even though she’s not actively consenting, and she may well be rejecting the man outright.

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Do you like it hurt, do it like it hurt, what you don’t like work?

This lyric suggests that women are supposed to enjoy pain during sex or that pain is part of sex:

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The woman’s desires play no part in this scenario – except insofar as he projects whatever he pleases onto her — another parallel to the act of rape: sexual assault is generally not about sex, but rather about a physical and emotional demonstration of power.

The way you grab me. Must wanna get nasty.

This is victim-blaming.

Everybody knows that if a woman dances with a man it means she wants to sleep with him, right? And if she wears a short skirt or tight dress she’s asking for it, right? And if she even smiles at him it means she wants it, right?  Wrong.  A dance, an outfit, a smile — sexy or not — does not indicate consent.

This idea, though, is pervasive and believed by rapists.

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And women, according to Blurred Lines, want to be treated badly.

Nothing like your last guy, he too square for you. He don’t smack your ass and pull your hair like that.

In this misogynistic fantasy, a woman doesn’t want a “square” who’ll treat her like a human being and with respect. She would rather be degraded and abused for a man’s gratification and amusement, like the women who dance around half naked humping dead animals in the music video.

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The pièce de résistance of the non-censored version of Blurred Lines is this lyric:

I’ll give you something to tear your ass in two.

What better way to show a woman who’s in charge than violent, non-consensual sodomy?

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Ultimately, Robin Thicke’s rape anthem is about male desire and male dominance over a woman’s personal sexual agency. The rigid definition of masculinity makes the man unable to accept the idea that sometimes his advances are not welcome.

Thus, instead of treating a woman like a human being and respecting her subjectivity, she’s relegated to the role of living sex doll whose existence is naught but for the pleasure of a man.

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In Melinda Hugh’s Lame Lines parody of Thicke’s song she sings, “You think I want it/ I really don’t want it/ Please get off it.”

The Law Revue Girls “Defined Lines” response to Blurred Lines notes, “Yeah we don’t want it/ It’s chauvinistic/ You’re such a bigot.”

Rosalind Peters says in her one-woman retort, “Let’s clear up something mate/ I’m here to have fun/ I’m not here to get raped.”

There are no “blurred lines.” There is only one line: consent.

And the absence of consent is a crime.

Sezin Koehler is an informal ethnographer and novelist living in Florida. You can find her on Twitter and Facebook.

Note 1: In one of the book a Japanese magnate in the 80’s told this “joke”: If the girl says No, she means Maybe. If she says maybe then she means yes. If she says Yes then she is a slut

Note 2: Can you discriminate among sexual harassment cases? https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2013/05/25/can-you-identify-sexual-harassment-by-facts-circumstantial-evidences-or-plainly-the-perception-of-


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