Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Nelson Mandela

Defining decade: How did you stand for Palestine?

From a lecture given in April, 2014, in Portland, Oregon, the words of Miko Peled, an Israeli writer and activist (I recommend watching his inspiring and informative lectures on YouTube):
“Every generation is judged by a certain issue…. In the 60s there was the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement here in America, the 80s it was apartheid in South Africa…. we are all going to be judged, we all have to answer to this issue of Palestine, this is the defining issue of our time.. 
Lama H. Nassar shared this photo of Israeli prisoner soldier Shaul Aaron. The operation was carried out by Gaza fighters
Lama H. Nassar's photo.
And all of us here, and everyone who stood for Palestine and stood for justice, we’ll be able to tell our kids and grand kids exactly where we stood.
Because they will ask, and they should ask, and the people who stood on the other side and the people who waved the Israeli flag while bombs were falling on Gaza.
And the people who support and excuse the crimes of Israel will either hide in a corner somewhere or deny they ever supported Israel..
It’s like today you won’t find anyone who supported apartheid in South Africa.
Everyone loved Nelson Mandela, suddenly!
And this is exactly what we’re gonna see and I bet it’s gonna be much sooner than what people think.”
From a lecture given in April, 2014, in  Portland, Oregon, the words of Miko Peled, an Israeli writer and activist (I recommend watching his inspiring and informative lectures on YouTube):<br /><br />
"Every generation is judged by a certain issue.... In the 60s there was the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement here in America, the 80s it was apartheid in South Africa.... we are all going to be judged, we all have to answer to this issue of Palestine, this is the defining issue of our time.. And all of us here, and everyone who stood for Palestine and stood for justice, we'll be able to tell our kids and grand kids exactly where we stood because they will ask, and they should ask, and the people who stood on the other side and the people who waved the Israeli flag while bombs were falling on Gaza, and the people who support and excuse the crimes of Israel will either hide in a corner somewhere or deny they ever supported Israel.. It's like today you won't find anyone who supported apartheid in South Africa, everyone loved Nelson Mandela, suddenly!! And this is exactly what we're gonna see and I bet it's gonna be much sooner than what people think."
Note: And which living Palestinian leader everyone will love? Israel has been assassinating every “dangerous” Mandela-kind Palestinian leader since 1948. In Palestine and in the Arab World and even UN chiefs Hamarshold.

Letter of Pink Floyd Roger Waters to Neil Young and Rolling Stones: Boycott concerts in Israel

Rock Against Racism

“Enough is enough”.
In January this year I wrote a private letter to Neil Young, it was sent via his manager Elliot Roberts‘ email, I never received a reply of any kind.
More recently I spoke openly about The Rolling Stones performing in Tel Aviv.
In light of the appalling recent events in Israel and Gaza and my dismay at the the lack of any response from our governments and in a final appeal to Neil’s possible attachment to the rights of all human beings, not just the disenfranchised natives of North America, but all human beings all over the world, I am publishing that letter now.
Here it Is.
Dear Neil Young.
There are rumors flying about that you are considering doing shows in Tel Aviv this year.
The picket lines have been crossed in this last year by one or two lightweights from our community but no one of your stature. Woody Guthrie would turn in his grave. Neil Young! You are one of my biggest heroes, you are one of a very short list, you, John Lennon, Woody Guthrie, Huddy Ledbetter, Harry Belafonte, Sam Cooke, Billie Holiday and, like some others, but not many, your songs have always been redolent of love and humanity and compassion for your fellow man and woman.
I find it hard to believe that you would turn your back on the indigenous people of Palestine. That you would lend support to, and encourage and legitimize, with your presence, a colonial apartheid regime, largely settled from Europe, that seeks to confine the native people of the land, either in exile or in second class status in reservations and ghettos.
Please, brother, tell me it ain’t so.
As I recall, back in the day, along with the rest of us (Stevie van Zandt, Bruce, Led Zep etc etc etc etc)  you would not “Play In Sun City”.  I am asking you to stand on the same moral ground now.
The late, great, Nelson Mandela lives on in us, we cannot let him down. He was explicit in his position and I quote, ” We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians”.
It is time for “Rock Against Racism” to show some of it’s muscle by refusing to lend our names to the whitewashing of the illegal colonization of Palestinian land and the systematic oppression of its indigenous people.
Unfortunately the opposition lobby has a lot of muscle too. They spend millions on their “Hasbara”(If like me you have no Hebrew)”Explaining” or to you and me “Propaganda”.
The propaganda machine is well oiled and ruthless. We, on the other hand, have only our commitment to non-violent resistance to lie down in front of the IDF caterpillar tractors that would raze the native people from the land of Palestine.
We stand with those people, and with all the brave people of Israel and Palestine, Jewish and Arab alike who oppose The Israeli Governments brutal policies. We stand with Rachel Corrie, the young American woman who gave her life under the caterpillar’s tracks. Please join me and countless other artists all over the world in solidarity with the oppressed and the disenfranchised.

It is time to heed the peoples call.
People like The Bedouin, the nomadic people of the Negev in the arid south of Israel, please research their plight, one village, Al-Araqib has been destroyed 63 times by IDF Bulldozers.
If you are in doubt about any of this, I will go with you to Palestine, and Israel, if they’ll let me in, you will see what I have seen, and then let us figure out the right thing to do.
By the way I watched your Bridge School concert on YouTube last year, it was very moving, you were, of course magnificent. You had asked me to perform, and as I explained to your management, I would have gladly done so had I not already been committed to The Wall Tour in Europe and Stand Up For Heroes in New York. This year I will be pleased and proud to come and support you if you call.
With respect, and love.
Roger Waters.
Fyi. Nice Christmas present.
Bedouin Village Demolished For 63rd Time
Thursday December 26, 2013 18:18 by Chris Carlson – 1 of International Middle East Media Center Editorial Group

For the 63rd time, Israeli forces have demolished the Bedouin village of al-Araqib, in the Negev, Thursday morning.
A Ma’an reporter in Beersheba said that bulldozers, escorted by 25 police patrols, raided the village at 9 a.m. and demolished all of its steel houses.
“Forces of demolition and destruction raided our village in the morning and demolished our houses, for the 63rd time. This is a barbarian assault, as they left residents homeless during wintry weather,” local resident Aziz Sayyah al-Touri told Ma’an.
He highlighted that the assault has come following the Israeli annoncement to abandon the Prawer Plan in displacing Negev Bedouins. Bedouins claim the are as their ancestral lands, while Israel considers al-Araqib and all Bedouin villages in the Negev illegal.
There are about 260,000 Bedouin in Israel, mostly living in and around the Negev, in the arid south. More than half live in unrecognized villages without utilities, with many living in extreme poverty.
Google “Prawer plan” and follow a few links, you may catch a glimpse of the tip of an extremely large and terrifying iceberg.
Neil, we’re talking about the occupation, subjugation, dispossession, eviction, ghettoization and possible eventual eradication of a nation.
You, more than most should find this, taboo, story, more than a little disquieting.

The story behind “that selfie”: Barack Obama, British David Cameron, Denmark’s Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt

Roberto Schmidt posted:

So here’s my photo, which quickly lit up the world’s social networks and news websites.

The “selfie” of 3 world leaders who, during South Africa’s farewell to Nelson Mandela, were messing about like kids instead of behaving with the mournful gravitas one might expect.
(AFP Photo / Roberto Schmidt)

US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron pose for a picture with Denmark’s Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt next to US First Lady Michelle Obama during the memorial service for South African former president Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg. (AFP Photo / Roberto Schmidt)

In general on this blog, photojournalists tell the story behind a picture they’ve taken.

I’ve done this for images from Pakistan, and India, where I am based.

This time the picture comes from a stadium in Soweto, and shows people taking a photo of themselves. I guess it’s a sign of our times that somehow this image seemed to get more attention than the event itself. Go figure.


I arrived in South Africa with several other AFP journalists to cover the farewell and funeral ceremonies for Nelson Mandela. We were in the Soccer City stadium in Soweto, under a driving rain.

I’d been there since the crack of dawn and when I took this picture, the memorial ceremony had already been going on for more than two hours.

From the podium, Obama had just qualified Mandela as a “giant of history who moved a nation towards justice.” After his stirring eulogy, America’s first black president sat about 150 metres across from where I was set up. He was surrounded by other foreign dignitaries and I decided to follow his movements with the help of my 600 mm x 2 telephoto lens.

So Obama took his place amid these leaders who’d gathered from all corners of the globe. Among them was British Prime Minister David Cameron, as well as a woman who I wasn’t able to immediately identify.

I later learned it was the Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt. I’m a German-Colombian based in India, so I don’t feel too bad I didn’t recognize her! At the time, I thought it must have been one of Obama’s many staffers.

Suddenly this woman pulled out her mobile phone and took a photo of herself smiling with Cameron and the US president. I captured the scene reflexively.

All around me in the stadium, South Africans were dancing, singing and laughing to honour their departed leader. It was more like a carnival atmosphere, not at all morbid. The ceremony had already gone on for two hours and would last another two.

The atmosphere was totally relaxed – I didn’t see anything shocking in my viewfinder, president of the US or not. We are in Africa.

(AFP Photo / Roberto Schmidt)

(AFP Photo / Roberto Schmidt)

I later read on social media that Michelle Obama seemed to be rather peeved on seeing the Danish prime minister take the picture. But photos can lie. In reality, just a few seconds earlier the first lady was herself joking with those around her, Cameron and Schmidt included. Her stern look was captured by chance.

I took these photos totally spontaneously, without thinking about what impact they might have.

At the time, I thought the world leaders were simply acting like human beings, like me and you. I doubt anyone could have remained totally stony faced for the duration of the ceremony, while tens of thousands of people were celebrating in the stadium.

For me, the behaviour of these leaders in snapping a selfie seems perfectly natural. I see nothing to complain about, and probably would have done the same in their place.

The AFP team worked hard to display the reaction that South African people had for the passing of someone they consider as a father. We moved about 500 pictures, trying to portray their true feelings, and this seemingly trivial image seems to have eclipsed much of this collective work.

(AFP Photo / Roberto Schmidt)

It was interesting to see politicians in a human light because usually when we see them it is in such a controlled environment. Maybe this would not be such an issue if we, as the press, would have more access to dignitaries and be able to show they are human as the rest of us.

I confess too that it makes me a little sad we are so obsessed with day-to-day trivialities, instead of things of true importance.

During Mandela's memorial service in Johannesburg. (AFP Photo / Roberto Schmidt)

During Mandela’s memorial service in Johannesburg. (AFP Photo / Roberto Schmidt)

Note 1:  Have you noticed that Roberto and Helle have the same name of Schmidt?  And what Schmidt means in English?

Note 2: Apparently, it was the stony face of Michelle Obama that promoted these pictures…

Note 3: I acquired a new term in my dictionary: Selfie is to take picture of yourself using a smartphone…


Freed the Jailer as well?” Nelson Mandela

Tens of thousands gathered at the FNP Stadium in Soweto near Johannesburg today for a memorial to honor Nelson Mandela, who died last week at the age of 95.

Nearly 100 heads of state traveled to South Africa for the memorial, including President Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro.

Mandela’s body will then lie in state for three days at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, where he was sworn in as president in 1994.

He will be buried on Sunday in Qunu, his ancestral home. We begin our coverage of the memorial with President Obama’s address. “It took a man like Madiba to free not just the prisoner, but the jailer as well,” Obama said. “While I will always fall short of Madiba’s example, he makes me want to be a better man.”

Interview of Amy Goodman with Barak Obama:

President Obama: Nelson Mandela “Freed Not Just the Prisoner, But the Jailer As Well”


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Mandela taught us the power of action, but he also taught us the power of ideas; the importance of reason and arguments; the need to study not only those who you agree with, but also those who you don’t agree with.

He understood that ideas cannot be contained by prison walls or extinguished by a sniper’s bullet.

He turned his trial into an indictment of apartheid, because of his eloquence and his passion, but also because of his training as an advocate.

He used decades of prison to sharpen his arguments, but also to spread his thirst for knowledge to others in the movement. And he learned the language and the customs of his oppressors, so that one day he might better convey to them how their own freedom depend upon his.

Mandela demonstrated that action and ideas are not enough.

No matter how right, they must also be chiseled into law and institutions. He was practical, testing his beliefs against the hard surface of circumstance and history.

On core principles he was unyielding, which is why he could rebuff offers of unconditional release, reminding the apartheid regime that prisoners cannot enter into contracts.

But as he showed in painstaking negotiations to transfer power and draft new laws, he was not afraid to compromise for the sake of a larger goal.

And because he was not only a leader of a movement but a skillful politician, the Constitution that emerged was worthy of this multiracial democracy, true to his vision of laws that protect minority as well as majority rights and the precious freedoms of every South African.

And finally, Mandela understood the ties that bind the human spirit.

There is a word in South Africa, ubuntu, a word that captures Mandela’s greatest gift—his recognition that we are all bound together in ways that are invisible to the eye, that there is a oneness to humanity, that we achieve ourselves by sharing ourselves with others and caring for those around us.

We can never know how much of this sense was innate in him or how much was shaped in a dark and solitary cell. But we remember the gestures, large and small—introducing his jailers as honored guests at his inauguration, taking a pitch in a springbok uniform, turning his family’s heartbreak into a call to confront HIV/AIDS—that revealed the depths of his empathy and his understanding. He not only embodied ubuntu, he taught millions to find that truth within themselves.


Nelson Mandela’s Most Inspiring Quotes

Before his death, Nelson Mandela had already become a larger than life figure for his work ending apartheid in South Africa.

The legend often overshadowed the real Madiba: he was a guy who saw inequality in his world and worked to make it right.

Looking back at over 5 decades of his speeches and writings, we find a man who struggled to balance his duty to his family with his fight for his country, his moral drive to do what’s right with his personal pride.

The Daily Beast posted this Dec. 5, 2013

Madiba inspired people through his speeches and letters, particularly those he wrote during his 18-year imprisonment on Robben Island. Here’s a selection of his most inspiring quotes:

1. “If I had my time over I would do the same again, so would any man who dares call himself a man.” (After being convicted to five years hard labor, November 1962)

2. “I was made, by the law, a criminal, not because of what I had done, but because of what I stood for, because of what I thought, because of my conscience.” (Statement during trial, 1962)

3. “I can only say that I felt morally obliged to do what I did.”  (At the opening of his trial, April 20, 1964)

4. “Social equality is the only basis of human happiness.”  (A letter written on August 1, 1970)

5. “Difficulties break some men but make others.” (From a letter to wife, Winnie Mandela, from Robben Island, February 1975)

6. “I came to accept that I have no right whatsoever to judge others in terms of my own customs.” (From his unpublished autobiographical manuscript, 1975)

7. “Great anger and violence can never build a nation. We are striving to proceed in a manner and towards a result, which will ensure that all our people, both black and white, emerge as victors.” (Speech to European Parliament, 1990)

8. Without democracy there cannot be peace.” (South Africa, May 9, 1992)

9. We are fighting for a society where people will cease thinking in terms of colour.” (March 8, 1993)

10. “When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace.”  (Interview for Mandela, 1994)

11. “Reconciliation means working together to correct the legacy of past injustice.”  (December 16, 1995)

12. “I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended.” (From Long Walk to Freedom, 1995)

13. “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” (From Long Walk to Freedom, 1995)

14. “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.” (From Long Walk to Freedom, 1995)

Video screenshot

Facts and figures from Nelson Mandela’s life, set to the trailer from ‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.’

15. “Man’s goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished.” (From Long Walk to Freedom, 1995)

16. “Real leaders must be ready to sacrifice all for the freedom of their people.” (Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa, April 25, 1998)

17. “It is never my custom to use words lightly. If 27 years in prison have done anything to us, it was to use the silence of solitude to make us understand how precious words are and how real speech is in its impact on the way people live and die.”  (South Africa, July 14, 2000)

18. “When people are determined they can overcome anything.” (Johannesburg, South Africa, Nov. 14, 2006)

Nelson Mandela est mort ce jeudi à 95 ans. Retour sur une vie de combat pour la liberté et l'égalité.<br /><br /><br /><br />
Nelson Mandela est mort ce jeudi à 95 ans. Retour sur une vie de combat pour la liberté et l’égalité. >>

7 Nelson Mandela Quotes You Probably Won’t See In The U.S. Media

 posted in BuzzFeed this Dec. 6, 2013

7. On the U.S. war with Iraq:

“If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America. They don’t care for human beings.”

6. On Israel:

“Israel should withdraw from all the areas which it won from the Arabs in 1967, and in particular Israel should withdraw completely from the Golan Heights, from south Lebanon and from the West Bank.”

5. On the U.S. war with Iraq:

“All that (Mr. Bush) wants is Iraqi oil.”

4. Mandela on Castro and the Cuban revolution:

“From its earliest days, the Cuban Revolution has also been a source of
inspiration to all freedom-loving people. We admire the sacrifices of the Cuban people in maintaining their independence and sovereignty in the face of the vicious imperialist-orchestrated campaign to destroy the impressive gain made in the Cuban Revolution. … Long live the Cuban Revolution. Long live comrade Fidel Castro.

3. Mandela on Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi (Qadgafi), his longtime supporter:

“It is our duty to give support to the brother leader … especially in regards to the sanctions which are not hitting just him, they are hitting the ordinary masses of the people … our African brothers and sisters.”

2. On the U.S. preparing to invade Iraq in a 2002 interview with Newsweek:

“If you look at those matters, you will come to the conclusion that the attitude of the United States of America is a threat to world peace.”

1. On a Palestinian state:

“The UN took a strong stand against apartheid; and over the years, an international consensus was built, which helped to bring an end to this iniquitous system. But we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”

 Seth Godin posted: “A legacy of Mandela

Others can better write about Nelson Mandela’s impact on the world stage, on how he stood up for the dignity of all people and on how he changed our world.

For those that seek to make a change in the world, whether global or local, one lesson of his life is this:

You can.

1. You can make a difference.

2. You can stand up to insurmountable forces.

3. You can put up with far more than you think you can.

4. Your lever is far longer than you imagine it is, if you choose to use it.

5. If you don’t require the journey to be easy or comfortable or safe, you can change the world.

Discours  Sur La Palestine de Mandela....

Je sais que vous et moi, nous aspirons à la paix au Moyen-Orient, mais avant que vous continuiez à parler des conditions nécessaires d’un point de vue israélien, vous devez savoir ce qui est dans mon esprit.

Par où commencer? Que diriez-vous de 1964. Laissez-moi citer mes propres paroles lors de mon procès. Elles sont vraies aujourd’hui, autant qu’elles l’étaient alors: «J’ai combattu contre la domination blanche et j’ai combattu contre la domination noire. J’ai chéri l’idéal d’une société libre et démocratique dans laquelle tous vivraient ensemble en harmonie et avec des chances égales. C’est un idéal pour lequel j’espère vivre. Mais s’il le faut, c’est un idéal pour lequel je suis prêt à mourir « . 

Aujourd’hui, le monde, noir et blanc, reconnaît que l’Apartheid n’a pas d’avenir. En Afrique du Sud, il s’est terminé par notre propre action de masse, pour bâtir la paix et la sécurité. Cette campagne et d’autres actions ne pouvaient qu’aboutir à l’établissement de la démocratie. 

C’est peut-être étrange pour vous d’observer la situation en Palestine ou, plus spécifiquement, la structure des relations politiques et culturelles entre les Palestiniens et les Israéliens, comme un système d’apartheid. C’est parce que vous pensez à tort que le problème de la Palestine a commencé en 1967. Cela a été démontré dans votre récent article « Premier Mémo de Bush » dans le New York Times du 27 Mars 2001. 

Vous semblez surpris d’entendre qu’il y a encore des problèmes de 1948 à résoudre, l’élément le plus important est le droit au retour des réfugiés palestiniens. Le conflit israélo-palestinien n’est pas seulement une question d’occupation militaire et Israël n’est pas un pays qui a été créé « normalement » et s’est mis à occuper un autre pays en 1967.

Les Palestiniens ne luttent pas pour un « Etat » mais pour la liberté, la libération et l’égalité, exactement comme nous avons lutté pour la liberté en Afrique du Sud. 

Au cours des dernières années, et surtout pendant le règne du Parti travailliste, Israël a montré qu’il n’était pas encore prêt à rendre ce qu’il avait occupé en 1967, que les colonies restent, Jérusalem est sous souveraineté exclusivement israélienne et les Palestiniens n’ont pas d’ Etat indépendant, mais sont sous domination économique israélienne avec un contrôle israélien des frontières, de la terre, de l’air, de l’eau et de la mer. 

Israël ne pense pas à un «Etat» mais à une «séparation». La valeur de la séparation se mesure en termes de capacité d’Israël à garder l’Etat Juif, et à ne pas avoir une minorité palestinienne qui pourrait avoir la possibilité de devenir majoritaire à un certain moment dans l’avenir. Si cela se produit, cela forcerait Israël à devenir soit un Etat démocratique ou bi-national laïque, ou à se transformer en un Etat d’apartheid de facto. 

Thomas, si vous suivez les sondages en Israël au cours des 30 ou 40 dernières années, vous trouvez clairement un racisme grossier: un tiers de la population se déclare ouvertement être raciste. Ce racisme est de la nature de « Je hais les Arabes » et « je souhaite la mort des arabes. » 

Si vous suivez également le système judiciaire en Israël, vous verrez qu’il y a discrimination contre les Palestiniens, et si vous considérez les territoires occupés en 1967, vous trouverez qu’il y a déjà deux systèmes judiciaires opérationnels qui représentent deux approches différentes de la vie humaine: une pour la vie des Palestiniens l’autre pour celle de la vie juive. En outre, il y a deux approches différentes pour la propriété et à la terre. La propriété palestinienne n’est pas reconnue comme propriété privée car elle peut être confisquée. 

Quant à l’occupation israélienne de la Cisjordanie et de Gaza, il y a un facteur supplémentaire. Les soi-disant «zones autonomes palestiniennes » sont des Bantoustans. 

 "Je savais parfaitement que l'oppresseur doit être libéré tout comme 

Un homme qui prive un autre homme de sa liberté est prisonnier de sa haine, il est enfermé derrière les barreaux de ses préjugés et de l'étroitesse d'esprit. (...)

 Quand j'ai franchi les portes de la prison, telle était ma mission: libérer à la fois l'opprimé et l'oppresseur."


L’Etat palestinien ne peut être le sous-produit de l’Etat juif, juste pour garder la pureté juive d’Israël. La discrimination raciale d’Israël est la vie quotidienne de la plupart des Palestiniens. Depuis qu’Israël est un Etat juif, les Juifs israéliens sont capables d’accumuler des droits spéciaux que les non-juifs ne peuvent pas avoir. Les Arabes palestiniens n’ont aucune place dans un Etat «juif». 

L’apartheid est un crime contre l’humanité. Israël a privé des millions de Palestiniens de leur liberté et de la propriété. Il a perpétué un système de discrimination raciale et d’inégalité. Il a systématiquement incarcéré et torturé des milliers de Palestiniens, en violation des règles du droit international. Il a, en particulier, mené une guerre contre une population civile, en particulier les enfants. 

Les réponses apportées par l’Afrique du Sud à des violations des droits de l’homme émanant des politiques d’élimination et de politiques d’apartheid, respectivement, mettent en lumière ce que la société israélienne doit nécessairement passer avant qu’on puisse parler d’une paix juste et durable au Moyen-Orien. 

Thomas, je n’abandonne pas la diplomatie au Moyen-Orient. Si vous voulez la paix et la démocratie, je vous soutiendrai. Si vous voulez Apartheid formelle, nous ne vous soutiendrons pas. Si vous voulez soutenir la discrimination raciale et le nettoyage ethnique, nous nous opposerons à vous.

Quand vous saurez ce que vous voudrez, appelez moi...

Nelson Mandela....  sur le site de médiapart
Discours Sur La Palestine de Mandela….
Je sais que vous et moi, nous aspirons à la paix au Moyen-Orient, mais avant que vous continuiez à parler des condi…

Culture of Contempt: Misplaced comprehension of Personal Failure

A week ago, I sent a link ten speakers at TEDxBeirut, asking for their feedback.  I received a single reply.  Two of the speakers’ email, as noted in the biography booklet, were not functional. I reminded TEDx electronic address on these facts, and I have yet to receive an answer.

Was I expecting such result?  The first realization was that most of the speakers’ enterprises were Lebanon-based, and consequently, behaved within the realm of culture of contempt prevalent in our societies.

For example, when I taught at the Lebanese American University, I sent administrators, Chairpersons of departments, and “professors” many emails.  Fact is: I didn’t receive a single reply over 4 years. Never received “Thank you for letter”, “read your mail”…Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I got into thinking: “Is this lack of civility a consequence of our society culture of contempt? Or this contempt is a tradition acquired from the “classes of authority” that indulged in humiliating communities, or is it basically an “elite club” ethics of ignoring non-members…?

Speaker at TEDxBeirut, Ali Jaber, answered my request and replied: “I very much enjoyed your critical piece. Such critical thinking is required in our Arab World, so we can move ahead. Two thoughts I would like to share with you.

1.  The most oppressive of limitations for the Lebanese expatriates is to realize (achieve) what they aspire to (becoming) abroad, and not in their own country.
2.  Collaboration, listening and turning to others for support, — whether they know you or not — is very important in the creative and liberal process. Creating a collaborative environment around the activities that you endeavor in the land of big egos, increased individualism and egotistical attitudes, is the road less traveled.”

(I have discussed at length the second thought in many articles.  For example, mankind intelligence evolved because they managed to realize the great advantages in trading goods, expertise, and culture…)

People in the Arab World expect to be ultimately recognized by the restricted clan, in the general modern meaning of restricted community, as a member who can be of real support.  If by the age of 40, an individual fails to be perceived as a “useful” member of the clan; for example, the members stop paying him regular visits and asking for his input and opinions, then he thinks that he is a failure.

This misplaced comprehension of personal failure blocks any further attempts to continuing education, to trying harder, to looking at failure from a different perspective…He has reached the psychological dead-end for trying to changing and transforming his life and his “destiny”.

This urge to be recognized as an “Important” person, who can be relied upon to come to the rescue (of the clan members), is the direct link to our view of the meaning of personal failure:”Officials”, public servants, or private employee who are unable to dissociate the “good positions” with personal failure when they are fired or transferred to a job that is viewed by the community as a downgrade in importance.  The job has been personalized: I am the position and I refuse to go but higher in responsibilities and recognition, as a very important person in the community…

For example, when I taught at the Lebanese American University, I sent administrators, Chairpersons of departments, and “professors” many emails.  Fact is: I didn’t receive a single reply over 4 years. Never received “Thank you for letter”, “read your mail”…Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I got into thinking: “Is this lack of civility a consequence of our society culture of contempt? Or this contempt is a tradition acquired from the “classes of authority” that indulged in humiliating communities, or is it basically an “elite club” ethics of ignoring non-members…?

At this university, it was a Russian Poutine/Medvedev style of chair swapping among the tenure-track “professors.  My course of Human Factors in engineering was very popular. One semester 60 students registered; it is not a math class, and there are plenty of reading, writing, reflecting on many issues…I asked for the class to be divided into two sections. My request was declined.  In reaction, almost all engineering departments decided to drop the course as optional.

No wonder that our universities are chaperoned by foreign powers:  How to disperse this climate of stagnation, which is poisoning attempts for healthy development and improvement in academic affairs. Part-timers were disposed of so that tenure-track teachers fill in course, which they were never expose to and not proficient in.

The irony is that US appointed Presidents of Lebanese universities can remain in their posts as long as they are serving according to dicta, and repressing opposition opinions and free speech zeal among the students.  And you can understand why our region enjoys natural dictatorial regimes.

For example, was it the custom of the club of full-teachers or tenure-track “professors” of ignoring part-time teachers and professors?  Why is it that, in general, foreign professors answer your request and reply to your email, even if they are originally from your home country, and your countrymen refrain from basic civilities at home?  The irony is: As a foreign teacher stays in Lebanon for a couple of years, the culture of contempt sets in, and he stops replying to mails…

This is normal behavior.  The difference in social behavior among developed and non-developed communities is the availability of sustainable institutions, which can be transformed and be changed, by taking seriously the input of the communities…a culture of respecting individual opinions and intelligence, regardless of position, clan, genders, or religious affiliation…

Note 1: My four-year stint of part-time teaching courses related to Human Factors in engineering was challenging.  It was an opportunity to publishing over 50 articles in my field, and also describing my various teaching methods to adapt to university student tendencies in Lebanon. You may go to my two categories “Human Factors” and “Educational methods”.

Note 2: A speaker at TEDxBeirut, Michael Kouly, was specifically on the perception of personal failure as jobs are transformed. He said: “Never take as personal failure changes in positions or job transfer…Current responsibilities are basically temporary roles and they are volatile.  We are NOT our role.  Conflict is the norm and we need the heat to cook a conflict into resolution. Thus, your main job is to staying on stage and confront conflicts.  Learn to identify and understand authority, the psychology and system of authority: How to dance with elephants, learn the many manifestation of dynamics in role-playing. The default value of 5 in the middle of the scale of ten is: Respect yourself and respect authority.  Going overboard on the two kinds of respect defines your status in the hierarchy.

Be flexible and negotiate with authority. Nelson Mandela was scared shit of the warden on his first day in prison but he took a chance on saying “I am a lawyer, don’t forget it…” Nelson went on “I wished the warden was not looking at my shaking knees…”

Note 3: I received today a short “thank you” reply from Yorgui, but no feedback.

Pertinent Quips; (Jan. 7, 2010)

            An Australian minister encouraged women procreation: “Make one for your husband, one for yourself, and one for the State”

            A British philosopher: “Dark Medieval Age deprived citizens of the human dimensions: The God of the Church ruled life and society. We are going through another Middle Age period: God of Technology is enthroned”

            Former Italian Andreotti PM: “If I was born in one of Lebanon’s refugee camps I would have been raised a terrorist”

            The crippled astrophysicist Stephen Hawking: “My next objective is to get into space: Richard Bronson would wheel my chair”

            Hans Blix, former nuclear proliferation inspector, said: “We have failed in the task of nuclear non-proliferation; we have to succeed in space non-proliferation plans”

            Control specialists in trade frauds should be awarded Nobel Prize in economics (Adonis49)

            Richard Nixon: “Never forget: media is your enemy; the establishment is your enemy; and professors are your enemies”

            The financial crisis crashed the statue quo: Time for major interior redecorating (Adonis49)

            Nelson Mandela: “Your victory demonstrates that there is no ground to fear changing for a better world”

            Oblivion is the nemesis to human stars and State regimes: Regimes disintegrate from the inside; foreign meddling extends a life line to regimes’ survival.  Bad propaganda is propaganda: it is always welcomed. (Adonis49)

            Goldman Sachs’ Lord Brian Griffiths “The public has to learn tolerating inequalities in the name of prosperity for all”

            Rupert Murdoch “Dailies will enjoy a long life. Survivors will reap plenty of money”

            Thank God there is an independent people’s court in England: otherwise, current Israel’s crimes against humanity would have been politically absolved (Adonis49)

            Shulamit Aloni (ex-Israel education minister): “We have no gas chambers yet: there are many methods to commit genocide”

            Igal Sarna: “Israel is the vastest psychiatric ward with no treating medical personnel”

            Scott McNeally predicted in 1995 “In a few years, electronic trade will replace many conventional commercial infrastructures”

            Arundhati Roy (novelist from India): “The movie Slumdog Millionaire delivered an authentic picture of the violence and poverty in India. This movie accuses nobody and everybody is happy. You call that a success?”

            Amadou Troure (Mali President): “Some grow cotton and reap subsidies. We grow cotton and reap deficits”

            Kadhafe of Libya: “God’s soldiers or the tse tse mosquitos protected us from colonial powers”

Dis-investment in Israel is the rage now; (September 12, 2009)


            The world community is no longer taking the UN seriously for applying the appropriate pressures on Israel; it is no longer taking the EU and the USA Administration seriously for exercising on Israel applicable human rights laws. Israel has been repeatedly flaunting the laws concerning human rights and the rights of the Palestinians under occupation.  Even the investigation of the atrocities that the Palestinians in Gaza suffered during the invasion from December 2008 to January 2009 is doublful that it will follow the due judicial procedures.

            The international communities of organizations, associations, and even truly democratic States are appealing to boycotting, dis-investing, and sanctioning (BDS) Israel so that it starts respecting international laws.

            Four years ago there were campaigns of boycott and dis-investments to pressure Israel to refrain from resuming building the Wall of Shame that the International Court of Justice has ruled illigal. This campaign has begun in July 2005 and is gaining fresh impetus after the genocidal war in Gaza where more than half the 1,600 victims were civilians and childrens. The entire infrastructure in Gaza was destroyed, including all the UN facilities.

            Powerful political figures and Nobel laureate for peace such as Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Jimmy Carter have considered that the practices of Israel are a reminder of the aparthide system in South Africa. The BDS campaign against Israel was relaunched during the World Social Forum in Belem (Brazil) on March 30.  The campaign is inciting the consumers not to purchase products made or grown in Israel, especially when proven that these industries are located in the occupied Palestinian West Bank.  The campaign is actively meeting with large surface owners and managers to disseminate information and intelligence as to the prohibited products.

            The Peace Cycle association is pressuring the EU to suspend the cooperation accord for tariff exemptions between Israel and the EU because Israel has failed respecting human rights and the democratic principles that was signed in 1995 and applied since 2000.  This campaign has forced 20% of Israeli exporters to lower their price because they lost substantial share of markets in Jordany, Britain, and the Scandinavian States.

            Cultural, academic, sport, and diplomatic boycotts of Israel have been recurring very often. For example, the musician Roger Waters, the authors Eduardo Galeano, Naomi Klein, Arundhati Roy, and the film makers Ken Loach and Jean-Luc Godard.

            Hertz refused to be associated to a promotional campaign by El Al airline; Sweden refrained from joining an international air maneuvers because Israel was participating. In Belgium, operation “Dexia out of Israel” lead 14 comunities to pressure this French-Belgium bank to stop financing Israeli collectivities located in Palestinian territories.

            The French transport companies of Alstom and Veolia are having hard time securing contracts from Scandinavian States and Britain for cooperating in transport businesses with Israel.  Other enterprises did not wait to be condemned and dis-invested in Israel; for example, Heineken re-located its affiliate Tempo Drinks from the West Bank; the same was done by the Swedish company Assa Abloy specializing in electro-mechanic security systems.

            Many States are accepting to prosecute judicial cases in human rights natures because Israel justice system has not proven to taking seriously these allegations cases.  The USA has been pressuring Spain, Belgium, and France to desist from prosecuting former Israeli Generals, officers, and ministers who committed mass killings against the Palestinians. For example, Dan Halutz, Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, Moshe Yaalon, Doron Almog, Giora Eiland, Michael Herzog, and Abraham Dichter have to get special permission from the Israeli cabimet of Minister to travel abroad for fear of being detained by European court of justices.

            Zionism is an ideology of the colonial and racist period; if the people of Israel want to continue adhering to that ideology then they will realize that it is bad business.




February 2023

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