Saturday, July 28, 2007

Stevie Wonder Superstition

For all the superstitious minds in this heavy Saturday night, especially in Morocco and Northern France

State of Alert, State of Exception

Two journalists, Mustapha Hormatallah and Abderrahim Ariri, of the Moroccan weekly Alwatan Al-An, were arrested last week (July 17), after the publication of a story about "the Secrets Behind the Enhanced State of Alert in Morocco," reproducing documents that the Moroccan police described as "classified".

After 96 hours under police custody, both journalists were charged, and while Ariri was released on bail, Hormatallah was incarcerated in the Okacha Prison.

Morocco has raised his level of alert, recently, because of a perceived terrorist threat. Many road blocks and check points were deployed around the country. Under Moroccan Judiciary (which is highly linked to the political power), and amidst a climate of repression in the name of the struggle against terrorism, the authorities are highly nervous and it's not unusual to see journalists paying the price of this sensitive mood. It's not the first time the Moroccan authorities clamped down on journalists for motives ranging from the insult to the sanctity of the throne or religion to the threat for national security.

Both journalists were merely doing the job that any of their colleagues, worldwide, are supposed to do: looking for the truth. That supposes sometimes gaining access to "classified information".

Hormatallah and Arir risk prison terms of one to up to five years.

Support them here.

(Picture by "Alexbip")

Friday, July 27, 2007

Logical Illogicality Number#2


Guilty of Honesty, Integrity and Defiance to the British Establishment, George Galloway Got Expelled From the House of C(omm)ons.

The Pro-Zionist, unelected "Commons [double-]standards and privileges committee" suspended the Respect member of Parliament for having brought (as they put it) the House into "DISREPUTE."
His crime: Political Dissent

He was expelled by a committee composed mainly of pro-war MPs and people who openly described themselves as "friends of Israel". Thrown out of a House that boasts for being the core institution of the "Mother of All Democracies"

For those who don't know him yet, George Galloway is the colourful and consistent peace and justice campaigner, the indefatigable and fearless defender of noble causes, great orator and leading anti-war activist.

He stood almost alone in the House against the war on Iraq, while the rest of the British political establishment supported the drive to an illegal and criminal war which caused and still is causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of Iraqis; not to mention the millions who lost their homes and hopes, having to leave their land.

So that's the price you pay when you have the guts to stand against the warmongers and pro-Israel supporters.

Often vilified and described in the mainstream media in Britain as "controversial", when real controversial war criminals and liars are offered standing ovations and treated like national heroes at the day of their departure.

George Galloway, in the day of his suspension, was interrupted by the speaker, and was denied the opportunity of making his full speech of defence against the allegations of the so-called committee. "At least the United States Senate gave me an uninterrupted hearing," reacted Galloway referring to his outstanding performance in front of an American senate committee in May 2005.

"It has come to something," he added "When the leading anti-war MP could get a fairer hearing in the Republican Senate than in the British House of Commons.

"I was thrown out of Parliament this evening just as I had given one example of the double standards that go to the heart of this matter. Anyone watching this would have seen Parliament plunged into disrepute as it absurdly decided - through agreeing my exclusion - that I am not permitted to point to those double standards or to criticise those who have produced this unjust report about me.

"We now have the absurdity in which the House of Commons has convinced itself, or at rather pretends that it has, that 10 MPs sat in a committee room somehow cease to be what they by definition are - highly political people who together constitute a political tribunal.

"The public know that is so; MPs, if they were being honest, know it; it's only in the chamber of the House of Commons that you are not allowed to say so.


"I had much, much more to say about the report and the overarching question of who it is in this Iraq affair who has brought Parliament into disrepute. Instead, by voting to throw me out, the MPs present this evening chose to conduct a kangaroo court in my absence.

"They may be happy to close their ears to the truth. Most people in Britain - and abroad - are not.

"They will be outraged at this sham in what is supposed to be the highest court of the land."

Galloway got an overwhelming support from people within the UK and across the World.

Support George Galloway here.

(GeorgeGalloway.com)
(Pictures respectively by "Fabbio" & "Mickal")

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Logical Illogicality

How to Turn a Brutal Dictator Into a Respectable Statesman & a War Criminal Into a Peace Dove

The release of the Bulgarian nurses and the Palestinian doctor from their Libyan nightmare is undoubtedly good news. The children infected by HIV in the Benghazi hospital and their families payed a heavy price for the lack of basic hygiene and accountability in the Libyan health system. In fact, many international health experts reportedly found that the infections occurred prior to the recruitment of the falsely accused medical staff. But what was the price for this happy outcome?

The French president who clearly upstaged the European commissioners' team of negotiators, in an apparent move to take the credit for the whole story, is due today under the TENT of Khaddafi. A French MEP, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, warned yesterday on the French Radio that Europe is maybe forgetting what type of regime it is dealing with. That's a country where nepotism is the rule, opposition is bitterly repressed and where jails are full of political prisoners. Apparently, the Libyan brutal dictator has successfully removed the last hurdle for his regime's integration into the (so-called) international community. Sarkozy, it is believed, will try to benefit from this overture to position French businesses, especially in the highly sensitive AND lucrative fields of oil and armement. So it's basically, back to business as usual! Sarkozy is notoriously close to the very powerful circles of the French industry and to wealthy businessmen (many of which are arms dealers), and who openly supported him during his presidential campaign.

Some would argue that that's Realpolitik, but peoples of the south know only too well what that means: more powerful dictators, more poverty, more alienation, more repression and more radicalization. In short: the ills of today's World, where Europe has to cope with waves upon waves of "illegal" immigrants and with fighting terrorism which stems mainly from the aforementioned conditions.

It's astonishing to see the levels of hypocrisy and double standards involved in the dealings of the Western leaders with despicable regimes around the world, but especially with Europe's southern neighbours: the rulers of the Arab World. Continuing with the same short-sighted approach, will only increase the bitterness and hopelessness of these countries' populations. All the repeated incantations about Human Rights, the need for the "free World" to "spread democracy..." don't seem to mean much when despots are whitewashed and labeled "moderates" from the moment they become "business friendly", docile and complying.

Was it a good thing to deal with Khaddafi to free the medical workers? surely, but now that they are free, the so-called "free world" should think of the millions still trapped.

**

Tony Blair visited Khaddafi incidentally just before he left office. Many have noticed the unusually upbeat tone of Blair when he talked about the "changes" and "reforms" that "Muammar" has implemented. Yes; he called him by his first name. That might suggest some kind of "special" relationship I guess. The former British PM has since been catapulted: the Quartet "PEACE" Envoy to the Middle-East, rather than being sent to the international war crimes tribunal in the Hague.

Blair was of course the partner in crime of George W. Bush in conducting an illegal war of invasion and subsequent occupation of a sovereign country that represented no threat for neither Britain nor the US, and which resulted in the deaths of at least three quarters of a million Iraqis (according to last year's Johns Hopkins University's estimates), of thousands of British and American soldiers and which transformed Iraq into a cause-célèbre for global terrorism. All of this of course aggravated by a campaign of lies and misinformation, viciously orchestrated prior to the war.

Blair has now been assigned to the mission of helping to "bring peace" to the middle east. Many observers noted the almost non-existent authority this new role carries. Nevertheless, the former PM appears to take his new job seriously and has already made his first appointment in his office in the occupied Jerusalem: Daniel Levy the son of "Lord" Levy, a wealthy pro-Zionist lobbyist, who became notorious after his involvement in the "Cash for Honors" scandal in Britain.

In the last weeks of Blair's Prime-ministership, he repeatedly tried to justify his support for Bush's war and he showed obsessive concern with his legacy. But many would agree that this legacy could be summed up in one four letters word: IRAQ. Let's hope that neither he, nor his allies will add another victim to this shortlist.
(pictures respectively by "Miles78" & "Sifter")

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Rise of Muslim-Democracy


Reading my July 21st Post (titled "pretentiously" I have to admit: mini-Manifesto) may suggest that I oppose any religious interference in matters of politics. I wrote that Muslims should be aware of the dangers of conflating religion and politics and that the public should have his say in all matters of public life. The resounding victory of the AK Party or AKP (described as 'rooted in political Islam') in turkey yesterday, may sound as a rebuff to the claims from secularists (like me) who want a clear separation between the state and religion; but it is not. I'm delighted by this victory. Secularism, as far as I understand it, is a political system that rejects religious diktat at the level of the institutions; in other words, it rejects Theocracy.

I don't see any reason why a party, be it rooted in Islam or Christianity or any other system of thought, should be banned from the political game (as some "fundamentalist" secularists -especially here in France- advocate) as long as it abides by the rules of democracy, and as it doesn't call for violence or hatred against its political opponents.

The AKP has shown during his five years in power, that a Muslim-Democracy type of governance was possible, and successfully so. The government headed by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the popular AK party leader, proved to be economy friendly, pro-European and surprisingly even more progressive than other self proclaimed secularist parties. Despite a campaign of fear mongering fueled by the Turkish establishment and some Western media urging people not to allow a party that they claim had an "Islamist hidden agenda" and which could undermine Turkey's secularist tradition, the voters decided otherwise and gave almost half of the seats of Parliament to the AKP. This victory, as I see it, is an important milestone, and a great achievement for democracy even beyond Turkey's borders.

In Morocco, at the Western edge of the Muslim World, will be held in next September, the legislative elections that would probably give the PJD (a party rooted in political Islam) a widely expected victory. If the Makhzen (the Moroccan establishment close to the monarch) doesn't intervene to rig the elections as it traditionally did, Morocco could become the first Arab country governed by Muslim-Democrats. (PJD for Party of Justice and Development- peculiarly the exact title as the Turkish AKP.)

I wouldn't describe my self as a conservative nor as adherent to ideas advocated by Muslim-Democratic parties, but I welcome any inclusive political system that allows as many ideas and groups as possible within the framework of democracy and power sharing.
(picture by "Brockodil")

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Psychology of the Thief



The Hypersensitivity of Israel apologists in reaction to the slightest critique on Israel, betrays a process of rejection from consciousness of all painful or disagreeable ideas, memories, feelings, or impulses of guilt with regards to Israel's behavior and Palestinians rights. That's called in Psychoanalysis: Repression. An immature defense mechanism, unconsciously used to avoid confrontation with ones responsibilities and/or consciously unacceptable realities.

This psycho pathological process, can make people go as far as to convincing themselves of the fallibility of what their eyes can really see, what their hands can really touch, or what their senses can genuinely feel.

This mindset can make people go even as further as identifying their own fate with that of (not the victims in that matter, but...) the oppressor.
Christian Zionists in America today, are more zealous than the most fundamentalist Orthodox Jew. They have a messianic reading of the Bible. They actively support the Israeli occupation. These are not some lunatic religious rednecks; they are wealthy and powerful businessmen and politicians who have learned to discipline their followers and sympathisers, and knew how to make the American political class, listen and execute their pressing demands, no matter how crazy these demands may sound.

Of course there are those who are perfectly conscious of the reality and the legitimacy of the Palestinian cause. But their defense of Israel's arguments often stems from purely selfish motives. These are perfectly "sound" but highly opportunistic and unscrupulous people, and for anybody who knows the influence and power of the Israel Lobby in America (and more or less in Europe), would understand the kind of motives behind this army of "professional" apologists.


Finally, this is a quotation which I think, sums up the state of self-deception I tried to define above, cited from Pr. Robert Trivers' "The Elements of a Scientific Theory of Self-Deception":
An evolutionary theory of self-deception-the active misrepresentation of reality to the conscious mind-suggests that there may be multiple sources of self-deception in our own species, with important interactions between them. Self-deception (along with internal conflict and fragmentation) may serve to improve deception of others; this may include denial of ongoing deception, self-inflation, ego-biased social theory, false narratives of intention, and a conscious mind that operates via denial and projection to create a self-serving world. Self-deception may also result from internal representations of the voices of significant others, including parents, and may come from internal genetic conflict, the most important for our species arising from differentially imprinted maternal and paternal genes. Selection also favors suppressing negative phenotypic traits.
Finally, a positive form of self-deception may serve to orient the organism favorably toward the future.

Pr. Robert Trivers. Professor of Anthropology, Rutgers University
(Picture by "PaulCalypse")

Friday, July 20, 2007

Quotation: Bertrand Russell

"The tragedy of the people of Palestine is that their country was ‘given’ by a foreign power to another people for the creation of a new state.
The result was that many hundreds of thousands of innocent people were made permanently homeless. With every newconflict their numbers increased. How much longer is the world willing to endure this spectacle of wanton cruelty? It is abundantly clear that the refugees have every right to the homeland from which they were driven, and the denial of this right is at the heart of the continuing conflict.
No people anywhere in the world would accept being expelled en masse from their country; how can anyone require the people of Palestine to accept a punishment which nobody else would tolerate? A permanent just settlement of the refugees in their homeland is an essential ingredient of any genuine settlement in the Middle East."
Bertrand Russell
Speech in Cairo, 1970
(picture of a palestinian child from "RightofReturn")

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Need For a Muslim "Copernicus"

A (Mini-)Manifesto

No! we (Muslims) are not the center of the world; far from that.
No! we(Muslims) are not the holders of "Absolute Truth".
And nothing... absolutely nothing justifies the horrors committed in the name of Islam.

Islam should be first and foremost a vehicle for assimilation and tolerance. It's a cultural matrix for identity.

The levels of intolerance and violence committed in the name of Islam have reached awful heights. Moreover, this is fuelling racist and irrational attacks on Muslims.

Islam, as any other religion, carries a potential of violence and extremism. There's an urgent need for a profound reform of the religious institutions and a modern reading of Islam itself. We (Muslims) can not afford anymore watching our intellectuals and the elite of our societies fleeing their home countries because of a suffocating freedom's environment and the devastating state of Human Rights, caused either by authoritarian despots or by fundamentalist crazies.

We (Muslims) must have the courage and integrity to engage in the painful process of introspection, to identify our religion's failures (at least in the way it is used and abused) at helping most of Muslims embrace modernity and secularism in the most smooth and healthy way possible.We should have the honesty to recognise the dangers of conflating religion and politics.

We should allow free thinking and freedom of conscience. People should never be forced to believe in a Superior Being for the only reason that they were born Muslims. A critical reading should always be permitted of the so-called "sacred texts", and the public should have his say in all matters of public life.

Women are and should be considered absolute equals of men (arguably, the Moroccan "Family Code" should be held as a model.)

All forms of corporal punishment or death penalty should be abolished. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights should be a base and a commitment in that matter.

Whilst it is true that many Muslims have their lands occupied, that civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq are killed on a daily basis in the name of the Western civilization (or in the name of Islam), that others are oppressed in their own countries by despots supported, financed and often armed by the West, we (Muslims) should have the intelligence to distinguish on the one hand the Western civilization and its overwhelming benefits on the peoples of the world, and on the other hand, the ill-advised foreign policies of some of the Western leaders often motivated by a neo-imperialistic mindset.

( look at the conversation taking place on BBC's World Have Your Say's blog)
(picture by meedapt.org)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Mubarak, the Despot of Cairo Strikes Again

Two Egyptian bloggers, Ahmed El Geizawy and Moataz Adel, were arrested yesterday July 16, while on their way to cover a court session involving activists from the officially outlawed Muslim Brotherhood organisation, according to a Global Voices post based on a report by the "Egyptian Watchman" Blogger.


Latest reports, according to the same sources, talk about the release this morning of Moataz, while (I've just learned) Ahmed has been freed later in the day after a lengthy investigation.

The two, were know for their irreverence for the regime and their open criticism of Mubarak, the autocrat of Egypt since 1981.

The Egyptian blogosphere is probably the most active and lively in the Arab World. Bloggers have already been subjected in the past to arrests and police harassment. This is not the first time the Mubarak despotic regime tries to suppress dissent and free speech.

Egypt faces huge economic and human rights problems. The authoritarian regime, which wants to paint itself as a major Western ally in the forefront of the American "war against terror", has no alternative but to oppress its own people and to stifle opposition, be it secular or religious.

(picture by MadMonk)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Remember the Summer of 1967

Forty years ago, the world was almost in a similar situation as today's. Except that the "enemy" at the time was: Communism. Vietnam was mourning its deaths as the US invasion continued to cause more and more horrors, while in the Middle East, Israel launched a war that would reverberate durably in the region, attacking its Arab neighbours causing deaths, huge movements of refugees and seizing Palestinian land, it still occupies today.

This climate of fear, deaths and uncertainty, added to hours upon hours of images of war and misery, mainly caused by the American for
eign policy and that of its client states, created a growing antiwar feeling and an unprecedented wave of solidarity and peace activism.

In Parallel, the Hippie countercultural ideals of love, freedom, and unity, reached their momentum with an ever growing number of wonderfully talented and popular artists joining the movement.

Hundreds of thousands of young and less younger people from around the world and from all walks of life, converged to the city of San Fransisco. The attempt by the local authorities to stop the flow, added even more media interest.

Although the "experience" was tarnished by incidents of violence, drug abuse and many other problems, it produced a generation of "flower children" with new ideals and new vi
ews on the World and it inspired similar experiences in other parts of the world. But most of all, this summer sparked a new movement of worldwide solidarity. The peace movement was born.

What's more, this was an opportunity for so many unique artists to produce an inspiring new music genre, still influential today.

In the Internet age we're living in today, with an ever easy interconnection between different people from different parts of the world, the solidarity ideals are even stronger than they were back in 67; but one has to admit that the world has not become a safer place, quite the contrary. Extremists from all sides are fuelling each other's rhetoric and wars, while "moderates" (which I suppose are the majority) remain mostly ineffective in avoiding illegal wars of occupation and violence in all its forms.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Nop! Sorry... This Is For Jews Only!


Some western media expressed surprise at the attitude of the Israeli PM, towards some Sudanese refugees who ended in Israel, passing through the Egyptian border. They were probably fleeing the nightmare in which Sudan is today.

I don't see why people should be remotely shocked by the threatening language of Olmert. These refugees are not Jews; therefore, God didn't promise them any estate in Palestine. Yes; because in case you didn't know, God is an estate agent , as far as Israel is concerned.

Now, Israel is the only country in the world where people are given citizenship on the basis of blood kinship: in other words, it's based on an ideology (Zionism), which considers the right for Jews only to establish themselves in Palestine, from whatever part of the world they came from. Never mind if the place belongs to some pesky Palestinians.

Six million Jews were massacred during the Holocaust at the hand of the Nazis. This is a fact that no one can reasonably challenge, apart from racist and anti-Semite Holocaust deniers. But a crime (the Holocaust) shouldn't be used to justify another one. Especially when the victims (the Palestinians, the Lebanese...), had nothing to do whatsoever with the slaughter of the Jews in Europe.

The fact that Israel was built on a racist Ideology, didn't seem to shock anymore in the secular West, where an obscure and irrational feeling of guilt towards the Hebrew State, has for so long inhibited any criticism
of the Israeli policies. Moreover, the practice of intellectual terrorism by lobyists and pro-Israel apologists, who label anybody who dares condemning Zionism for what it really is, a racist ideology, has shunned debate and stifled all forms of critical thinking.

Having said that, many within the Jewish communities worldwide, and especially in Britain and the US, are raising their voices of dissent and dismay towards what they see more and more as, not only a racist and despicable ideology, but also a system that creates hatred against Jews and fuels anti-Semitic bigotry everywhere.

While it is necessary to condemn and combat all forms of racism like anti-Semitism, it is also fundamental to expose Zionism for what it is and for the dangers that it creates for all communities and firstly for Jews.

Zionists claim to represent all Jews: this is a lie that must be constantly challenged. It's always worth remembering that
Not all Jews are Zionists nor are all Zionists Jews; therefore criticizing Zionism is not bigotry nor is it anti-Semitism.

(Photo by freepal)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

I Didn't Know They Had an Army!


So one year passed since the last large scale Israeli crime had been committed.
One year during which Lebanon came dangerously close to implosion... again.


Israelis talk about the debacle of the I(D)F. But make no mistake: they are not mourning about the level of civilians killed on both sides, nor do they even discuss the fate of the two Israeli soldiers held by Hezbollah ("kidnapped" as the official version goes) which, according to the indoctrinated media, started
all that up. All the fuss is about: how come the Israeli state terror didn't work this time. The intent was basically to "shock and awe". Arabs, seem to have learned the lesson. And, that's terrifying!

And then we rediscovered the refugee "problem". The institutionalized sectarian state of lebanon, always refused to integrate hundreds of tousands of Palestinian refugees on the premice that Lebanon would be further devided if those impoverished refugees were to be helped, or by pretexting that integrating them would be bad for their own cause if they had to claim any rights on their lands and homes stolen by Israel. Palestinians have been living in refugee camps for at least two generations now, with no access to decent jobs or ordinary citizen's rights. This time the culprit wasn't Israel but ... the Lebanese government and the Lebanese army. The Lebanese Army? which army?

That also we rediscovered. The Lebanese army didn't lift a finger when a foreign force was bombing the hell out of it's own people, last summer!! unbelievable, now they are shelling a refugee camp (a city, rather), where civilians try to survive, often in the most abject conditions. Well, of course there are those psychopaths from Fath al-Islam. Should they be blamed? Sure!
The first time I heard about this group, it was in Seymour Hersh's piece in the New-Yorker (mar
ch '07). The group -according to the author- was financed by Saad al Hariri, the all mighty plutocrat, and the Saudis, with the blessing of the old good friends, the Americans, in order to later, be able to play them against Hezbollah. If this is true (and there are many evidence to think so), then we're back to the old evil making doctrine: "my enemy's enemy is my friend", which has created so many monsters in the past.

During Last summer's Israeli criminal aggression, Robert Fisk, the Independent newspaper correspo
ndent asked a Lebanese citizen about his opinion on "the lack of reaction from the 'international community'." The man's answer was:
"Those bastards, will never learn from History"
I agree 100%.
(picture by Digitalgrace)

Norman Finkelstein, or the Dangers of Criticizing Israel in Today's America

Criticizing Israel in America today, has become tantamount to professional (and often financial) suicide.


Many of those who dared challenging the unwavering support the US gives to Israel, have been attacked and often labeled "anti-Semites", even when they happened to be Jews themselves.

The most worrying of all, is the smear campaign that has been launched against academic freedom in a clear attempt to stifle debate within university campuses. A witch hunt that has been unleashed against prominent scholars, very known for their "non-conformist" comments on Israel and American policies towards it.

The All Mighty Israel
Lobby has already shown in the past that it was prepared to use all means possible to suppress any dissenting voice from public debate. After having tightened their grip on the media and on both branches of power in Washington, now it's turn for the University to be "disciplined".

People like Norman Finkelstein, and Ward Churchill, know that only too well. Finkelstein, for example, was denied
Tenure at Chicago's De Paul University, despite an impressive record of scholarship. An unprecedented campaign of hate, "character assassination" and Ad-Hominem attacks headed by the Israeli crimes apologist, Alan Dershowitz, preceded the decision by the University not to grant Finkelstein a higher position.

AIPAC and the other Pro-Israel Organisations, are in effect, a foreign country's agents in America. With the support they enjoy from today's administration, and the unprecedented power they have succeeded to control, one should really
be worried (to say the least) about the state of democracy (in so much as it still exists at all) in a country that describes itself as the "Land of the Free, Home of the Brave".

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

From Ben Barka To Ben Laden

How to transform Secular Opposition Into Nihilist Madness

During the Colonial Era, the bulk of the struggle against imperial forces in the Arab World (and in the wider Muslim World) was made of secular movements, who didn't separate their plight from that of many other nations under occupation around the world. Yes, there were religious movements involved, but their weight was very insignificant politically, though religion continued to play some role in shaping people's views -as it has always done.

The leaders were nationalists. They were talking about freedom, equality and democracy. They were dreaming of free and modern Arab states, where women would have their place, where Islam would have it's place as a religion and identity, and as a tool for the assimilation of cultural and religious minorities. Some were very charismatic and inspiring like the Moroccan leftist leader, Mehdi Ben Barka.

When Colonial powers finally decided to grant "Independence" to their former colonies
, they made sure to create a permanent state of post-colonial dependency. Especially in the Middle-East considered very early as a "stupendous source of strategic power." First they created borders in a region that had none; borders designed to fit their interests perfectly. Then they put dictators or despotic monarchs at the head of each of the Middle-Eastern newly created entities. Divide and Rule: nothing that might unite those countries should be encouraged; they should be united only in their dependency towards the former colonial powers. Each time some local regime showed signs of defiance, it was systematically demonised, undermined and eventually removed, often in the most awful circumstances. That's what happened to Muhammad Mossadeq, for example; The democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran who was plotted against by the Americans and the British, and who was finally removed from power. What was his crime? he attempted to nationalize his own wealth.

Local populations never submitted. The struggle against their repressive regimes, right after formal independence was granted, took the form of a Nationalistic and Pan-Arabist opposition. It's not surprising to find that the enemy for Western powers at the time was Arab Nationalism. Those who succeeded in reaching power and defying the post-colonial order, were dismissed. Gamal Abdel-Nasser for example, was often labeled: "the New Hitler." Again, he was accused of trying to regain control of his own people's wealth.

Puppets and stooges at the head of the Arab states, were encouraged to use any means necessary to literally destroy the local secular (mainly Leftist) opposition. Notably, Islamist radicals were instrumentalized against what was then described as "communist infidels." Many were abducted, tortured or "disappeared."

The Americans, who took over the British after WWII as the world new Imperialist power, understood as early as 1967 that Israel has a central role to play in undermining Arab Nationalism. Israel was then the "local cop on the beat", in the words of Richard Nixon. Tel-Aviv is the largest recipient of US financial "aid" in total since World War Two, to the tune of well over $140 billion of American Tax payer's money (see Mearsheimer and Walt article).

When the secular opposition was eventually "defeated", the Arab political landscape was
totally devastated. Political parties were either co-opted (hence, discredited) or too small and weak to represent any threat. The vacuum ought to be filled. it was the time Ben Laden and his like were eagerly waiting for.

Years of repression and poor economic management, have led to huge poverty inequality and frustration. Now that the secular channels of expression have been destroyed, many (especially the most disaffected) were tempted by the rhetoric of extremist Islamists. Moreover; the situation in Palestine, and the similar fate of many other Arab-Muslim countries, pushed the less impoverished sections of those societies to even more radicalism.

after 9-11, the new "enemy" for America was radical Islam. The Arab "leaders", frenetically shifted their repression strategy to please the US with their "With-Us-or-Against-Us" new doctrine. The old methods would now again be permitted, even encouraged by the good old American friends.

**

Many in the west still refuse to see that the monsters the world has to deal with today are, in a way or another, the result of an imperialist mentality still dominating most of western policies towards the Arab-Muslim Worlds. Self-delusion has led some to engage in a
morbid reasoning that led them to Islamophobia, racism and bigotry.
"various types of self deception, lead people who undoubtedly conceptualize themselves as good people and upstanding citizens to suppress critical instincts-that would normally be operative in condemning bad actions by others-when it comes to justifying one's own evil deeds." Pr. Robert Trivers

People from whatever religion or background h
ave no choice but to live together. As long as this vicious circle of despair, hatred and radicalism is not broken, the world is condemned to live in perpetual tragedy, with always innocent bystanders paying the higher price... always!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

God Bless [the World... Including] America



Is God on America's Side ?

Oh my name it is nothin'
My age it means less
The country I come from
Is called the Midwest
I's taught and brought up there
The laws to abide
And that land that I live in
Has God on its side.

Oh the history books tell it * They tell it so well
The cavalries charged * The Indians fell
The cavalries charged * The Indians died
Oh the country was young * With God on its side.

Oh the Spanish-American * War had its day
And the Civil War too * Was soon laid away
And the names of the heroes * I's made to memorize
With guns in their hands * And God on their side.

Oh the First World War, boys * It closed out its fate
The reason for fighting * I never got straight
But I learned to accept it * Accept it with pride
For you don't count the dead * When God's on your side.

When the Second World War * Came to an end
We forgave the Germans * And we were friends
Though they murdered six million * In the ovens they fried
The Germans now too * Have God on their side.

I've learned to hate Russians * All through my whole life
If another war starts * It's them we must fight
To hate them and fear them * To run and to hide
And accept it all bravely * With God on my side.

But now we got weapons * Of the chemical dust
If fire them we're forced to * Then fire them we must
One push of the button * And a shot the world wide
And you never ask questions * When God's on your side.

In a many dark hour * I've been thinkin' about this
That Jesus Christ * Was betrayed by a kiss
But I can't think for you * You'll have to decide
Whether Judas Iscariot * Had God on his side.

So now as I'm leavin' * I'm weary as Hell
The confusion I'm feelin' * Ain't no tongue can tell
The words fill my head * And fall to the floor
If God's on our side * He'll stop the next war.

Words and Music by Bob Dylan 1963 (renewed in 1991) - Original Title: "With God on Our Side" - Warner Bros. Inc - Special Rider Music
(Picture by
"Príncep d'Astúries de les Arts")

Monday, July 9, 2007

The New Makhzen*



(* definition at the bottom of this post)

To understand Morocco, one should look at its very long History to realize that this unique country has always been ruled by a unique system of governance: the Makhzen
Throughout this singularly long History and for centuries, Morocco has been ruled by dynasties and sultans who were both religious and political figures. Some dynasties lasted for centuries. Sultans were generally more feared than revered, and often the relationship between them and their “subjects” consisted on tax collection. Thus the term “Makhzen”, which literally means “warehouse”, where most of goods and taxes were stored. It has long been a Tax-for-Security kind of relationship with government obligations held to their lowest minimum. Morocco of course has since evolved, and significantly so. But the Makhzen has also adapted to change, and is still the main system of governance.
In a predominantly conservative society, many still believe that the Makhzen is a guarantee for stability in a region of the world torn by conflicts and wars. Others are more keene in holding to the status quo for purely selfish reasons: the Makhzen treats its "clients" generously and provides them with power and privilege. My grand-mother used always to warn me: “beware of two things my son: God and the Makhzen.” I think she summed up very well the two structuring themes of the Moroccan psyche.

The new Makhzen has a new face and takes more subtle forms today: while displaying a façade of modernity and institutional "democracy", power is actually wielded in an archaic fashion. Corruption is part of daily life. Plutocracy and nepotism, “kleptocracy” and cronyism are the rule everywhere… leading to the widening of the social gap between the haves and the have-nots, to alarming rates of unemployment and to public services being held to minimum despite people paying huge amounts of taxes by Moroccan standards. Public welfare is almost non-existent…

The Makhzen has always alternatively, allied itself with religious and secular movements within the country, while co-opting (hence discrediting) political dissenters. Sometimes they were purely and simply silenced.

In the 1960’s, right after independence, there was a vibrant Left in morocco, headed by its historical leader Mehdi Ben Barka. The world was then in the heights of the “Cold War”. The Moroccan establishment, after having tried unsuccessfully to co-opt Ben Barka, forced him to exile. Allying itself with political Islam, the Makhzen launched a campaign of oppression against the opposition (mainly Leftists) with the help, as it is now widely documented, of the CIA. Many were “disappeared”, others tortured or simply liquidated. Ben Barka himself while in exile in Paris, was abducted with the help –it is believed- of American and Israeli secret services. He was reportedly then tortured to death (his body was never recovered and his family still struggles for the truth).

In recent years, and after the “assimilation” of the Socialist party, which now participates in the government and which has become an empty shell in the eyes of many Moroccans, the Makhzen has designated political Islam as its new enemy. The Islamist movements have flourished mainly as a result of the vacuum left by the devastated and discredited secular parties.


Some genuine progress in the human rights and civil rights’ areas has been achieved in the last years of the reign of the late Hassan II (late 90’s). But we have been witnessing a steady move backwards since 9-11, in the name of the struggle against extremism. The current king, Mohammed VI, has not relinquished an inch of his “royal prerogatives"; quite the contrary. There is no separation of powers and the actual cabinet is made up of “close friends” of the monarch. Internet websites are being blocked, the press has been stifled in many instances using justifications such as the sacrality of the monarchy, blasphemy…etc. Journalists have been jailed, threatened or fined with record amounts of money.
There are talks about torture, people being abducted (Islamist radicals); reports about “Black Sites” used by the CIA, notably near Rabat, the capital.

As the tension grows between the Makhzenian state and the radical Islamist movements, the majority of M
oroccans continue to live in abject poverty. More than half of the population are illiterate. Young desperate people play Russian Roulette with their lives on a daily basis, trying to reach the shores of Spain. Many die, but those who succeed, end up (for the most part) almost enslaved in the Spanish fruit fields enriching big local owners, picking fruits and vegetables they can not even afford to buy! A very tiny minority though, especially in big and modern cities like Casablanca or Marrakesh, enjoy a substantial improvement on their standards of living: this is the Moroccan middle class, made up of a metropolitan elite, generally well educated and subject to solicitations from the Makhzen or political Islam. And then there are the wealthy: mostly the notables who constitute the core of the Makhzen. They enjoy a huge amount of power and privileges, often living in obscene richness in comparison with the level of poverty all around.


Moroccans are overwhelmingly friendly and tolerant people. They aspire as any other society, to live with dignity and to enjoy their rights in a country that is wonderfully beautiful and full of potential, which is squandered mainly by a corrupt ruling “elite” and by a medieval system of governance.

''Makhzen'' (مخزِن) is a '''Moroccan Arabic''' term for the governing elite in Morocco, centered around the king and consisting of royal notables, businessmen, wealthy landowners, tribal leaders, top-ranking military personnel, security service bosses, and other well-connected members of the Establishment. Today, this term carries a heavy negative charge which means the absence of democracy and freedom and the absolute rule of dictatorship and corruption. The term is used in Moroccan independent newspapers to describe or condemn the lack of democracy and the human rights abuses committed by state police or officials.The word "makhzen" literally means "warehouse". It is likely a metonymy related to taxes, which the ''Makhzen'' used to collect. Recently, the term is also being used to describe the Police. The word has also been adopted into French language and Italian language as ''magasin'' and ''magazzino'' respectively. It came into the English language from Middle French as ''magazine'', originally referring to a "Magazine (artillery) storehouse" for ammunition and later to Magazine publications.
The term often carries a derogatory connotation, as it is associated with an archaic and hermetic mode of governing, which resists democracy. While the contours of the Makhzen are vague, the government itself is generally considered [just a] part of it. Sometimes inclusion in the Makhzen is even hereditary because of nepotism.Although considered archaic and backward, many believe that the Makhzen has also been a factor of stability in Morocco, because its roots are deeply connected to Moroccan society. It has served as a very sophisticated mean of managing wealth and power by using cronyism and in tying Moroccan society to the t
hrone. It has also managed to co-opt many of its opponents which often lead to discrediting them. By its way of governing, consisting in distributing money, land, luxury cars, privileges, authorizations in regulated economic areas like sand extraction pits or fishing and transportation authorizations, to buy the allegiance of its members or to acquire new ones; Makhzen has been accused of being responsible of the widespread corruption in Morocco. With an ongoing democratisation process taking place in Morocco, the Makhzen is now often considered as a barrier to democracy. The dilemma for Morocco being to smoothly evolve to more democracy [while avoiding confrontation between progressists on the one hand, and powerful conservatives who are benefiting from the system on the other]. [Morocco is still a predominantly conservative society where many consider the Makhzen to be an important factor of stability and a pillar of the monarchy]. The Makhzen has also been heavily involved in the so called Years of lead "

(source: Wikipedia)

(latter picture by " Babasteve")

Quotation: Albert Einstein



"I should much rather see reasonable agreement with the Arabs on the basis of living together in peace than the creation of a Jewish State. Apart from practical considerations, my awareness of the essential nature of Judaism resists the idea of a Jewish State, with borders, an army and a measure of temporal power, no matter how modest. I am afraid of the inner damage Judaism will sustain" Albert Einstein (date, unknown)
As early as 1921, Einstein made his first trip to the US to raise funds for the establishment of Jewish settlements in Palestine. As such he was identified with Zionism; a label that does not precisely fit but that he didn't actively avoid. Nonetheless, he seperated himself from Zionist bigots and jingoists. In 1930, A. Einstein wrote:
"I can see future for Palestine only on the basis of peaceful cooperation between the two peoples who are at home [in Palestine]..."

He went on to support a Bi-National Arab and Jewish State.

(Picture by "JC Colman")

Quotation: Arthur Nelsen


"A community without dissent is a sad lifeless rump that enriches neither itself nor anyone else.
In many ways, communities can be defined by qualities of those they exclude."
Arthur Nelsen- Feb.12 2007
Nelsen was actually speaking about the British Jewish establishment who opposes voices of dissent, as he says, within British Jewish community with regard to Israel.
Nelsen's beautiful phrase would, I'm sure, also apply perfectly to my own muslim community, which too often rejects dissent and criticism. There is a voice of dissent groing throughout communities which seeks to reject the dictat of the extremists over the more secular but silent majority.

(picture by "Digitalgrace")

The Calculated Madness


One year ago Israel decided to inflict collective punishment on the Lebanese people. The Israeli war machine, entirely provided and financed by the Americans, proceeded in a cynically calculated offensive bombing the hell out of Lebanon, destroying its infrastructure and killing more than a thousand people in Lebanon itself, and hundreds in Palestine, overwhelmingly civilians.

We all remember the terrible pictures coming from the little village of Qana, where more than fifty children with their parents and families perished in a single Israeli offensive.

The Israeli government at the time claimed that it was acting “in self defence” (sic). They justified their action by the fact that Hezbollah fighters “abducted” TWO of their IDF fighters (IDF for Israeli “DEFENSE” Force as it is laughingly called).

Notwithstanding the international outrage, the Israeli allies –US-UK- refused to call for a ceasefire allowing the butchery to continue.

Hundreds of Arab and Israeli deaths later, Tel-Aviv agreed to back off not before pouring hundreds of thousands (some say millions) of cluster bomblets in the south of Lebanon: bombs which were intended to kill and maim as many victims as possible, regardless of the fact that they might be non-fighters, children, women or elderly. A clear War Crime for which almost no official in the west lifted a finger.

I just fail to understand: why people keep wondering why Arabs and Muslims are getting radicalized? If you keep smoking two boxes of cigarettes a day, you don’t wonder why you are getting a cancer! If you keep driving fast like a fool, you are not surprised if one day you get an accident! If you keep playing with the fire, you’re not surprised if one day you’re burned…

I can’t anymore stomach those stuffy officials who always talk with a dignified composure even when the situation is outrageously unjust, those so-called “experts” with their flowery language who often lecture us on the “realities” of the Middle East. You don’t need to be an expert to empathise with the Palestinian or the Lebanese or the Iraqi people. You don’t need to be an expert to distinguish the oppressor from the victim in that situation.


In the case of Israel, their behaviour shows a clear pattern or methodology that has been followed scrupulously since it’s creation in 1948: Israel has always acted in a way to make maximum damage around it. To make its enemies think that they don’t care for the consequences… in a way… that they are CRAZY. But this is a calculated madness: The Brinkmanship Tactic, which according The American Heritage Dictionary means:

"the technique or practice of manoeuvring a dangerous situation to the limits of tolerance or safety in order to secure the greatest advantage, esp. by creating diplomatic crises."
One year after the Lebanon massive War Crime, the Middle East is arguably in a worse situation. Whilst the Civil War continues its deadly toll in Iraq, Lebanon has been in perpetual internal crises with numerous political killings and a dangerous street tension. Israel has probably realized one of its oldest dreams in dividing the Palestinians, playing one faction against the other while continuing building settlements, expropriating Arabs living inside its borders and imposing military regime on those it occupies.

The Hatred-making machine, which is a combination of occupation, exploitation and oppression, has systematically created more and more despair everywhere. Desperate people, do desperate things. Desperate people loose hope, loose their humanity and end up loosing reason. Nothing could justify killing or even threatening civilians: Violence and Hatred are pathological states. But the best way to treat a disease is to understand its physiopathology (its mechanism.) Hatred leads to despair, to desperate actions, to violence, to reactions to that violence, to hatred and the vicious circle goes on and on.

Indeed, efforts should be made to prevent all forms of violence against civilians; but if that is applied exclusively, it will mean only “symptomatic treatment”: which is long, costly and inefficient as long as it is not accompanied by the “etiologic treatment” ( dealing with the root causes).


Root causes are: occupation, killing of civilians, abduction or assassination of political representatives (so-called ‘Targeted Assassinations’), demolition of houses, expropriations, destruction of farm lands, olive and palm trees, building the Apartheid Wall, Racism towards non-Jewish minorities, building and expansion of settlements, contempt for “International Law”, Check-Points and daily humiliations, siege and embargo, “Transfer”, expulsions, lies upon lies…and the list goes on and on and on…

Friday, July 6, 2007

Hidden Smiles

Everything in the news about Arabs and Muslims is bleak. For someone who doesn't know that part of the world or who has never encountered such dangerous and "blood thirsty creatures", Arabs or Muslims are easily synonymous of "Evil" or "Terror"

"The Manufacture of Consent" and the opinion making apparatus, have most definitely taken control over the media. The Information Technology which brought so much to ordinary people, has also been a blessing for Neo-Fascists, disguised in immaculate suits surrounded by armies of spin doctors. The Corporate Media has taken control over the minds.
Never in the past have governments had so many tools to stifle debate, to manipulate facts or to muzzle dissent.

All that Westerners know about Arabs is tragedy upon tragedy. Even the Muslim populations now living within mainly christian societies, mostly adhere to that vision.

Bigotry and barely hidden racism and Islamophobia has become a wide spread standard in mainstream media. The large Public, anesthetized by an all biased and uncritical media environment, has mostly lost his critical spirit or is incapable of going through painful contemplations on real matters. People prefer to trust their leaders and spend their dollars.
As for those leaders, the equation is simple: First you brutalize them as the matador brutalizes the bull in a Spanish arena, then you say: "see how violent they are!" Then you claim: "This is all 'evidence' we need to wage our righteous war on Muslim-Arab terrorists and their internecine blood feuds."
I despise violence. Everybody should anyway, unless he or she turns insane. But there is a golden rule which one might always keep in mind: "Injustice leads to Insanity; which leads to Violence."


Arabs and Muslims do smile, they do hope, they do joke, they do love, they make love, they do empathise and they do sympathize; they do share and care.


They are ordinary people, put under extraordinary conditions.

The Dangerous Mutation

The levels of hatred and alienation have, unfortunately reached alarming heights within the Muslim community in Europe.
I want to first make it clear that I condemn... I utterly condemn any kind of violence or threats against civilians, whether in Britain, in the US, in Afghanistan or in Iraq... and no matter what the means of delivery: be it a Jihadist, a cruise missile or an F16.
People who are committed to violence and threats against civilians (call it terrorism), are nut cases... they are psychopaths and murderers.
The British, the Americans and Jewish people are being hated, and wrongly so, not because of what they are (as the western governments claim) but because of what they are perceived of doing.
The solution to this nightmare is clear, as far as I'm concerned and for anybody who wants to see. But it is not acceptable for the extremists on both sides, who decide on war and peace today and who often act as a recruiting tool for each other. They want to lead us all to a clash, not of Civilizations, but to a clash of Barbarisms.
The Western policies in the World (and I mean by western here, mainly US-UK+Israel), dominated by a Neo-imperialistic and Hobbesian vision, where "Might is Right", have led to the creation of an environment of injustice and rage which has mutated into hatred and wickedness:
  • Acting on the premise that "my enemy's enemy is my friend," has created the monsters we have to deal with today.
  • Supporting the despots of the Arab world, on the basis that control over oil resources of the middle east is of a much higher interest than the lives and rights of human beings living in the region, has created the feeling of injustice, oppression and hopelessness
  • Arming and financing the Israeli terror, settlements and occupation has only added even more humiliation and anger
  • Appointing a PR "expert" to "improve America's image in the Muslim World," adds only insult to injury
Again, I utterly condemn violence against civilians, but if you don't understand the causes leading to it, you're condemned to endlessly repeat it.
As difficult as it is for Westerners to understand the psychology of people committed to violence against civilians, one should understand that Western governments policies over the years, have created such people.
Now, I want to propose a solution (that might sound pretentious, but let's consider it a modest contribution open to anybody to criticize or support.) It's three fold:
  1. Troops should be withdrawn from Iraq and Afghanistan: these invasions were based on lies upon lies. They have led to the killing of hundreds of thousands of people, overwhelmingly innocent civilians, and they serve only as a recruiting tool for extremist groups who flourished after the wars were launched.
  2. US-UK should stop supporting Israel as long as it is not complying with the International consensus on Palestine, rejected by America against virtually the whole rest of the world, for more than thirty years
  3. The Western people should make the interest of the people of the Arab-Muslim World intrinsically linked to its own, and pressure their governments to act in this direction.
Dangerous mutations are occurring, but it is not too late to change our common fate!


Thursday, July 5, 2007

مورفين !!














اللفظةُ طابةُ مطّاطٍ..

يقذفُها الحاكمُ من شُرفتهِ للشارعْ..

ووراءَ الطابةِ يجري الشعبُ

ويلهثُ.. كالكلبِ الجائعْ..

اللفظةُ، في الشرقِ العربيِّ

أرجوازٌ بارعْ

يتكلَّمُ سبعةَ ألسنةٍ..

ويطلُّ بقبّعةٍ حمراءْ

ويبيعُ الجنّةَ للبسطاءْ

وأساورَ من خرزٍ لامعْ

ويبيعُ لهمْ..

فئراناً بيضاً.. وضفادعْ

اللفظةُ جسدٌ مهترئٌ

ضاجعهُ كتابٌ، والصحفيُّ

وضاجعهُ شيخُ الجامعْ..

اللفظةُ إبرةُ مورفينٍ

يحقنُها الحاكمُ للجمهورِ..

منَ القرنِ السابعْ

اللفظةُ في بلدي امرأةٌ

تحترفُ الفحشَ..

منَ القرنِ السابعْ..


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