Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Samir Attallah

Transitional governments or potential democratic systems?

It is the year 1876 (Lebanon): Yaacoub Sarrouf and Fares Nemr published a weekly “Al Moktataf” of 24-page focused on scientific and technological breakthrough! The Ottoman Empire was horrified, and the two journalists had to move to Egypt to resume the publishing of their weekly. Al Mouktataf (Selected topics) survived to 1952.

It is the year 1886 (Lebanon):  A periodical concerned with women rights is born.  The Arab Summit this year didn’t even mention women rights, not even the Palestinian rights for an independent State, not the horror taking place in Bahrain and Yemen and Libya…

This Arab Summit focused its attention on “how to arm the Syrian opposition forces”! As if democracy is established in the States that removed dictators. As if democracy is in the mind of the absolute monarchs and Emirs in Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Jordan, and the gulf Emirates…

The irony is that no other publication replaced it or competed with since then. You are under the strong impression that reflective, experimental, and scientific mind was and still is irrelevant in this part of the world.  Hundreds of bright scientists from the Near-East have immigrated to greener pastures and became illustrious figures such as Hassan Kamel Sabbah (General Electric and the competitor of Thomas Edison in number of registered patents), Chebli Shmaeyel, Girgi Zeidan

And the “Arab Spring” uprising inflamed the imagination for potential democratic systems sweeping the Arab World States…

Do you recall Wajdi Ghoneim? The western media lauded Wajdi as the forerunner of the democracy spirit in Egypt.  And what Wajdi said after the Christian Copt Pope Shnouda died three weeks ago? He farted: “Thanks to God for the death of this heretic.  We are over joyed and God punished him…”

Do you believe that democracy can survive and bloom in an environment lacking scientific mind? Funny, in the Gulf Emirate an invention is the rage: A small cuff is connected to the refrigerator that repeats religious songs so that water is purified and the drinker is safe from evil eyes…

In Morocco, the “Association of research and sciences” is permitting women to using dildos when the husband is not present at home for long periods in order not to be tempted to committing sins…

In Tunisia, the extended family members of the new leader Rashed Ghanouchi are being appointed high public positions, as it used to be the case during the former dictatorial regime…

The European Union was very close adopting the charter that Christianity was the religion of the union.  In the Arab States with vast Moslem sunnis sect, Islam is the religion of States.  The current discussion is whether to includeIislam Chariaa laws as the main source of civil laws of the State…

Democracy is a long process of including all kinds of minorities, religious, race, color, genders…In “democratic USA, it took centuries for Blacks to enjoy partial civil rights, and women could vote in 1920… Without sustained environment of free expression and the spirit for reflecting on scientific research, how can anyone expect any quick breakthrough in the Arab States?

Note: Post partially inspired by an article of Samir Attallah in the daily Al Nahar, April 4, 2012

What is this French Academy? Who is Amine Maaluf?

The French Academy (L’ Academie Francaise) for the illustrious literary individuals who wrote in French (regardless of origin, genders, or religious affiliation) was instituted by the Cardinal Richelieu who was the Prime Minister of the monarch Louis 13 in the 16th century.

Among the  pantheon of the literary figures you find, Voltaire, Victor Hugo, Poincare, Alexander Dumas the Son (of African descent), Leopold Cedar Segor (Senegal), Asia Jabbar (Algeria)…Amine Maaluf (Lebanon) was inducted a member two week ago. (He will officially deliver his speech and get the chair, exactly a year later)

Amine Maaluf joined the Lebanese daily Al Nahar at the age of 22 in the foreign section.  He used to bring a book to work and read it hidden under the desk.

Amine undertook trips to Vietnam, Ethiopia, Haiti…to cover events.

You cannot be a successful journalist if you fail to read books everyday!  For example, how could we comprehend the Napoleonic war against Russia if we fail to read “War and Peace” of Tolstoy, or about France if we failed to read Balzac, or about Italy without Luigi Bazetti...?

Amine Maaluf was born in a small village of Lebanon (Ain Kabo) and immigrated to France in 1976, as the civil war in Lebanon set in.  He wrote many books about Lebanon, Iran, the Crusaders, his Origin…

How can we feel the feudal system in Lebanon without “The Boulder of Tanios“, or the century of Omar Khayyam in Iran, or how the Arab viewed the Crusaders at the time, or how the Lebanese immigrated and prospered overseas…

Maaluf earned the French Goncour Prize for “The Boulder of Tanios” (Sakhrat Tanios) and the Spanish Literary Prize.

His productions were translated in over 20 languages.  I read all his books in the original French language (about a dozen books) and reviewed extensively many of them in English, in my blog under “Book Review” category.

Many Lebanese authors wrote in foreign languages and were famous.  For example, Jubran Khalil Jubran “The Prophet” (the highest read in the USA after the Bible), Amine Rihani who corresponded with the New York Times in the 20’s and wrote “Khaled” and many other books, Andre Chedid, George Shehadeh, Salah Stitieh

Note 1: This article was inspired by the article of the Lebanese journalist Samir Attallah, published in the daily Al Nahar (June 29, 2011)

Note 2: This Nov. 10, 2013, Amine presented his latest book during the exhibition of French book production in BIEL (convention place in Beirut), and the President of Lebanon offered him the Medal of Honor during a reception.

George Mitchell and I; (Apr. 16, 2010)

            George Mitchell is the current US negotiator to establishing a Palestinian State; he is also President of a US university.  Mitchell was once the lead Democratic Senator and had many important functions and public positions; I don’t have the habit of depressing my readers by enumerating viable glorious responsibilities.

            Lebanese journalist, Samir Attallah, interviewed George Mitchell at the “Plaza Hotel” in NY during lunchtime.  George arrived in a Yellow cab and left waving down a Pakistani taxi driver. If George was currently visiting Lebanon for pleasure then the Lebanese government would insist on allocating a limousine and a detachment of internal security guards.

            The mother of George Mitchell, late Muntaha Saad, was originally from the town of Jezzine in Lebanon and immigrated in 1920 to the State of Main.  Muntaha means “the end of what to come”: her father was in a way warning his God that Muntaha was to be the last of a string of four daughters.

            It happened that a neighboring Lebanese family in Main adopted an Irish boy from an orphanage.  By the by, Muntaha and this growing up boy fell in love and got married.  Muntaha’s main conditions were to get married at the Christian Maronite church and that her first boy to be baptized Maronite.  George or Jersis as he was called until he started secondary schooling earned his day and thus enrolled in evening study program; he also enrolled in the evening program at Georgetown University graduating a lawyer.  George worked a doorkeeper at a hotel; I guess this job is excellent: you are the first person to meet before entering the hotel and thus you are the principal representative of the institution; you are necessarily highly respected if you want your stay to be facilitated and enjoyable; and you earn much tips; I could never hope for such a job: I am short and not photogenic.

            There are other discordances between George and I.  My tuition fees were three times more expensive (I was not a US citizen) and I was ordered to work in jobs within university limits at mostly minimum wages. I soon stopped counting the years it took me to earn a PhD in engineering: counting was becoming an onerous luxury.

            George told this joke: “Muntaha used to tell everyone not from Lebanon in Main “See this tree? You should see the one we have in Lebanon.  See this fruit? You wouldn’t believe the ones we harvest in Lebanon.  See this river? It cannot compare with ones with have in Lebanon.”  One year, George managed to save enough and sent his mother Muntaha and his sister to pay a visit to Lebanon. At a gathering in Lebanon Muntaha stood and said: “See this tree? It is a dwarf compared to the ones we have in the State.  See this fruit, this river, this…? Well, better not to compare!”

            There is a high probability that the career of George ends as the other famous Lebanese/US diplomat Philip Habib. Philip Habib was Ronald Reagan’s Ambassador Plenipotentiary to end Israel invasion to Lebanon in 1982.  Israel has even entered the Capital Beirut and Habib ended up negotiating the retreat of the Palestinian military factions from Beirut.  Habib succeeded in negotiating a peace treaty for the Vietnam War but failed in his mission to Lebanon and Israel.  George Mitchell was successful in negotiating a peace treaty of the civil war in North Ireland but now Israel is intent on letting George down: Israel is adamant against establishing a separate Palestinian State.

            I know George Mitchell: I read dailies.  George cannot know me; my hometown people don’t know me: I have been away for 20 years, among other reasons.  In the last ten years I settled a mile away from my hometown; nobody visited me.  People occasionally visit my folks and I happen to be there: I live with my folks.




December 2022

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