Sunday, November 16, 2008

Farewell

Handing Over to the Mirror on WordPress...
This is the Mirror on Blogger Signing Off.

Good Night and Good Luck Everybody!

This is my Closing Theme:







The Journey Continues Here.


Picture Courtesy of "daveknapik"

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Mirror is Moving


I’m in a process of moving this blog permanently to another location… if you're not too bothered by the rubbish I've been beaming here for almost -gosh!- one an a half year now (man, time runs fast!) please go pay a visit and make yourself at home whilst I’m constructing it!
All suggestions are welcome by the way.
See you!

Friday, November 7, 2008

What the... ?



I'd be very interested in knowing your reaction to the very first appointment made by Mr. Obama. I may sound a bit over the edge here, but forgive me if I'm a bit sceptical. Indeed I'm more than that: My blood was boiling and I was deeply frustrated to the announcement of Rahm Israel Emanuel as chief of staff. Yes! because I somehow secretly hoped that this guy (Obama) would deliver and that -as Jill pointed out in a recent comment- his public stance may be different from what he really thinks. The fact is that Obama appointed a man not only deeply involved in the financial crisis (he was member of the board of Freddy Mac at the time it went through serious trouble, " and recuses himself from any Congressional votes on the mortgage giant" according to time.com) but who also served in the Israeli army; therefore an Israeli citizen and a de facto Israeli officer, whose background suggests where he comes from as far as the Middle-East is concerned (His father was member of the Irgun: the infamous terrorist organization that killed women and children during the first half of the 20th century in the name of Zionism.)
So I'm deeply sceptical and profoundly frustrated. Where do we go from here?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Case For Obama


From an Arab perspective, foreign policy is paramount as far as the next American president's intentions are concerned. Of course there is the ambivalent approach on Iran, the position on Israel (read this too), the condescending interventionist stance on Pakistan and all the rest of it. But let's face it: The question here for anybody who has the privilege to vote in this crucial election and who has primarily foreign policy in mind, is, to put it bluntly, to choose the less worse candidate.

Five Good Reasons

1. His experience with poverty first in Indonesia where he witnessed -reportedly- the effects of an ill advised American foreign policy, supporting an ugly dictatorship, then in Chicago where he preferred working as a community organizer and civil rights lawyer rather than choosing a promising and predictably lucrative career as a corporate lawyer, having just graduated from a prestigious law school.

2. He opposed the war on Iraq well before the illegal invasion started, then he advocated an early and phased withdrawal in concordance with the opinion of a crushing majority of the "international community" (meaning: ordinary people's).

3. Despite some early contradictory declarations, he generally seeks a renewed diplomacy with a more seasoned approach with Cuba, Syria and Iran. Of course, and as far as the middle-east is concerned, the pressure and the level of infiltration by the Israel lobby and by the Military industrial complex are such that it will be difficult in case Obama had the integrity, soundness and willingness to act as an honest broker, to overturn the flawed system in place. Of course Arabs have to walk the walk after having talked the talk, far from primitive and futile violence.

4. The power of symbolism. In other words: the simple fact of having a black, self-made, left-leaning (in American terms of course), charismatic and clearly smart American president (at least in comparison with the imbecile outgoing one) may in and of itself contribute to temper international relations, and inject hope an positive expectation not only amongst Americans but also to some extent, amongst young secular people over the world -literally.

5. He has met late Edward Saïd. This reason may sound childishly naive and senseless but this is a reason enough to me, if I were American, to vote for this guy, knowing that at some point of his existence, has been exposed to the reasonable discourse of a secular, exiled Palestinian intellectual explaining eloquently his plight and that of his people.

Now of course one could argue for hours about the nature of the political system in America, which is, as far as I'm concerned, more of an oligarchy that it is a democracy, but again an Obama president has the potential to change something of some size, to some extent positively to make the current status
quo more viable.

The visionary dream of a compassionate pastor from Atlanta called King, nearly forty years ago may come soon true. Let us just hope that the man now about to achieve that dream will set about to also fulfill the other vision of Dr. King dreaming of a Revolution of Values.


Picture Courtesy of "Stevegarfield."

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Sting

Socialising Risk, Privatizing Profit

What happens when a democracy gets hijacked? When the pillars of justice metamorphose into pillars of sand and salt? When what was intended to be the Land of the Free, Home of the Brave transforms into a open battlefield for mean private rascals who don't give a damn about public interest and social justice let alone justice in international relations?

I have to admit, I'm a complete novice as far as finance and economy are concerned, but let's forget about the figures, shall we, and let us just talk in human terms.

Whatever the extent to which one might despise Capitalism in the sense with which it is run and presented to the world, i.e. an extreme egotistical and cruel social and political system, one should recognize the benefits liberal ideals have brought to humanity. It would be indeed extremely hypocritical to claim that without the spirit of freedom and self-initiative inspired and led by America and then inoculated to the world, humanity would have achieved much. The problem, from my humble point of view, is that the very noble ideals set forth by the so-called fathers of the American revolution, whom I'm sure had no Wall-Street gamblers nor pressure groups in mind when they were writing their constitution, have been diverted then perverted by private power in America to the point that the federal government has become a mere executioner for the benefit of a wealthy and extremely influential oligarchy.

What did Chomsky say? ... 'What remains of democracy is largely the right to choose among commodities.' ... He added that 'Business leaders have long explained the need to impose on the population a "philosophy of futility" and "lack of purpose in life," to "concentrate human attention on the more superficial things that comprise much of fashionable consumption."

'Deluged by such propaganda' he said, 'people may then accept their meaningless and subordinate lives and forget ridiculous ideas about managing their own affairs. They may abandon their fate to corporate managers and the PR industry and, in the political realm, to the self-described "intelligent minorities" who serve and administer power.'

And indeed they abandoned their fate. The American people, and in fact the world watched in mesmerized silence, the biggest transfer ever of wealth in human existence, from public to private hands, paralyzed as we were by the vision of the so-called doom and gloom that would ensue otherwise.

Is it the end of Capitalism as we know it ? Is it the end of American hegemony? I'm in no position nor capacity to foresee. Now, God knows how much I distrust extreme ideologies including Communism (in the Stalinist or Maoist version... or whatever.) And I'm, by no stretch of the imagination dreaming of a social utopia here. Indeed I hope that the best part of America will survive, that everybody would be able to enjoy the benefits of a free and productive life where fundamental human needs are met and where Justice reigns as the shared human religion. For as much as I despise Capitalism-American style, I realize the wonderful energy-releasing, opportunity-creating machine that a well regulated liberal economy represents.
Consumerist capitalism is an unsustainable way of life, apart from the fact that it is immoral, for the simple reason that we would need three or more planets to barely cover the needs of the greedy crowds that we have all become, deluged, as it were, by all the tempting environment around us.

"Let's burn the banks," said almost seriously my friend Yves the other day when we were talking about the matter at lunch time. A radical view supposedly shared by many who maybe are beginning to feel the consequences of the economic sting that now threatens their financial security.

Should America survive, she must rid itself of the ills that have poisoned its soul and have transformed the dream into a nightmare, allowed lobbyists and pressure groups to pervert the political system, the corporate media to subjugate the masses into an obsessive spending herd. All this having in effect corrupted the very spirit in which the American constitution has been written, a document supposed to be the end product of a very rich enlightening century that extracted man from its primitive condition as a slave of either the elements, kings, knights or fundamentalist priests. Leading quite paradoxically to a state of blind arrogance, unprecedented in human history, and most worrying of all, to establishing, in Chomsky's words, a "profoundly undemocratic character of state capitalist institutions, designed in large measure to socialise cost and risk and privatize profit, without a public voice."

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Last Man Standing


"One man with courage makes a majority." Andrew Jackson

Who said that all Jews are Zionists?

Who said that all Americans are brainwashed?
Who said that America has lost its soul completely?
Who pretends that no one American today dares criticizing Israel's crimes?

Judaism IS NOT Zionism...
Israel doesn't represent all Jews...
the Holocaust industry is a monumental fraudulous scheme (apart from the monumental crime itself) that serves justifying the unjustifiable and...

Norman G. Finkelstein is the living proof of the exception that, sadly, confirms the rule of a majority indeed opposing his clairvoyant and justice loving approach.

American Radical: A documentary coming soon in a theater near you, unless the hideous and insidious pro-Zionist censure decides otherwise.

Go and watch the
trailer NOW!

Monday, September 15, 2008

This blog will be on a symbolic
STRIKE
today, September the fifteenth in solidarity with Mohamed Erraji who might be momentarily free, but who hasn't yet got off the hook. Moroccan bloggers and their friends around the place are joining efforts to name and shame the Moroccan government and put pressure on those who can put an end to this parody of justice. Please join this effort by publishing links to Erraji's blog and to that of his supporting committee.

Latest: Erraji has been acquitted.

Friday, September 12, 2008

9/11, Seven Years On: Safer? Freer?


Yesterday was an interesting discussion on BBC's World Have Your Say on the subject matter of whether the American reaction to the 9/11 attacks "has made the world a safer place?" in which I had the chance to participate.

Much to my surprise, I discovered that one of the architects of American policies in the immediate aftermath of the shock was invited to answer the questions of anonymous listeners: Richard Perle, the Prince of Darkness as he is often dubbed; the Neocon par excellence.

Overall, my very modest intervention lasted for seconds but I took the opportunity to argue and state the obvious really: Whatever the rhetoric, as long as the symptomatic treatment, and that is an arduous police and intelligence work -not military,- as long as it is not supported by a tireless political effort to deal with the causes of despair and anger in the Arab and Muslim worlds, we are doomed at repeating tragedies of the past. In other words, as long as the question WHY is avoided, the problem of Terrorism will be around for some time still.

As I responded to the comment of my friend Abdelilah, who by the way also participated in the program, I like to make the analogy of the current American rhetoric with that of an acrobat, trying to convince himself and his public that he can walk his way safely, without falling, without loosing control, with a heavy elephant on his shoulders. The question in these circumstances is not IF he can handle it, but FOR HOW LONG!

In other words: as long as root causes of the problem are not dealt with genuinely, the sources of the recruitment of youngsters amongst the frustrated masses are not addressed head on, the elephant is inexorably going to fall upon our heads!




Is the world safer...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thou Shall Not Blog

Another prisoner of opinion, Mohamed Erraji, has been jailed (then released) in Morocco, and again for a crime of lèse-majesté.

A Moroccan court in the coastal city of Agadir has sentenced in September 08, 2008, Mohamed Erraji, a journalist and blogger, to two years in prison and to a fine of around 600 US dollars. Erraji was convicted for "failing to respect the sacrality of the monarch" under article 41 of the Moroccan press code.

In an article he published on HesPress (ar), an irreverent Moroccan electronic magazine, Erraji criticized the king's policy of rewarding people who adulate and praise him, much to the detriment of the common sense and public interest. Mohamed wrote (Original arabic version here - English translation from Global voices here by Amira Al Husseini) :


We need to admit that what has destroyed our country and made it plummet to this embarrassing level in all international rankings, is this economy of dispersing gratuities, which benefits the lucky sons and daughters of this country and overlooks the rest. Of course, we don't need to use the larger than life terms used by politicians to understand what this means. It simply means that some people can take the rights of others unjustly! Transportation licenses and nobility titles which the King distributes on citizens who send him letters, written using the same phrases used by beggars lining sidewalks, fall under this category of gratuities. Countries which respect their citizens do not turn them into beggars under the feet of nobility.


Instead, they develop factories and workshops for them to work in and earn their living with dignity. Even if we assume that such gratuities are only dispersed to deserving citizens such as the special needs and poor, which is impossible at any rate, this isn't anything that makes Moroccan citizens proud. The right to work, health care and education are granted by the Constitution. Therefore, the state should provide decent means of living for its citizens - other than humiliating them in this shameless manner.


During the 10-minute trial, the defendant wasn't allowed and has not been able to have a defense attorney.

The hilarious side of the story is that the same iniquitous and corrupt court, later retracted and allowed for a provisional release on bail of Mr Erraji pending his appeal of the judgment against him.

Reporters Without Borders: “We are relieved by Erraji’s provisional release. The Moroccan judicial system must now hear his appeal in a proper manner. We hope the outcome will be fair. Erraji is not guilty of insulting the king. We hope the court will not uphold the prison sentence.”

Erraji's lawyer who filed the appeal's request later declared that his client's "provisional release is the result of strong pressure. The decision came from a very high level."

What else indeed could have helped for the release of Erraji other than a "high-level" intervention in a judicial system under direct orders from the executive... namely the monarch?

CPJ noted that "press freedom in Morocco has notably regressed in recent years. Independent journalists have been the targets of a series of politicized court cases, financial pressures, and harassment from authorities. The country’s restrictive press code criminalizes offending the king, “defaming” the monarchy, insulting Islam or state institutions, and offending Morocco’s “territorial integrity.”"

In a fatalistic and pessimistic tone (not without some sense of derision,) Erraji closes his article writing:

[W]e should delay our dreams of a Morocco of equality and equal opportunities until the reign of Mohammad the Seventh, which will follow after that of Hassan the Third, who is the Crown Prince at present.


The idiotic and anachronistic trepidations of the Moroccan regime, are becoming disturbingly worrying. For how can any reasonable mind believe that such a medieval system of systematic censure ever work in face of a -definitely- awakening nation, thirsty of freedom, equality and genuine democracy?

This blog will then be on a symbolic strike, Monday, September the fifteenth in solidarity with Mohamed Erraji who might be momentarily free, but who hasn't yet got off the hook. Moroccan bloggers and their friends around the place are joining efforts to name and shame the Moroccan government and put pressure on those who can put an end to this parody of justice. Please join this effort by publishing links to Erraji's blog and to that of his supporting team.


Latest Update: Another example of the worrying state of affairs we're talking about, this news I've come across while browsing through Moroccan online newspapers: A member of the royal family, one of the King's ants husband, Hassan Alyaaqubi, has opened fire on a policemen who stopped Alyaaqubi for a misdemeanour traffic violation. The affair has apparently provoked a stir in the Moroccan street. What the hell is going on?

Monday, September 1, 2008

Ramadan Kareem


Picture Courtesy of "laNDN."

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Moroccan Extraordinary Renditions

The British high court has Friday, given David Miliband, the foreign secretary, a week to disclose documents related to the detention in 2004 (abduction shall we say) of a British resident, Binyam Mohamed currently detained at Guantánamo Bay.

As reported by the Guadrian.co.uk and according to Mohamed's team of defense, the man "was detained in Pakistan in 2002 and secretly rendered to Morocco, where he claims he was tortured by having his penis cut with a razor blade. He was also detained and interrogated in Afghanistan before being taken to Guantánamo Bay in 2004, where he is awaiting trial."

The anti-torture organization Reprieve, deplored the British government's reluctance to communicate documents which may prove Binyam's innocence and/or maltreatment. The head of the Organization declared that “The British government effectively says that a British resident’s right to a fair trial is less important than avoiding embarrassing the Bush Administration, and we’ll just gloss over the fact that he was tortured. But British national security cannot ever be enhanced by torture. To borrow from President Bill Clinton’s speech two days ago – the world is more impressed by the power of our example, than the example of America abusing its power. To suggest otherwise is, surely, Britain going back to the role of poodle.”

And how on earth shall I describe the despicable attitude of my own government? I'm speechless and abhorred by the Moroccan authorities' attitude, abasing themselves into a vulgar executor of America's dirty business. How is that for democracy and human rights which the regime is glossing over ad-nauseum?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Viva La Vida* (Slightly Modified)


Especially dedicated to Arab dictators.

I used to rule the world
Seas would rise when I gave the word
Now in the morning I sleep alone
Sweep the streets I used to own

I used to roll the dice
Feel the fear in my enemies eyes
Listen as the crowd would sing:
"Now the old king is dead! Long live the king!"

One minute I held the key
Next the walls were closed on me
And I discovered that my castles stand
Upon pillars of salt, and pillars of sand

I hear [ ] bells [of change] are ringing
[Revolution] choirs are singing
[No more] mirrors [no] sword and shield
[No] missionaries in a foreign field
For some reason I can not explain
Once you know there was never, never an honest word
That was when I ruled the world

It was the wicked and wild wind
Blew down the doors to let me in.
Shattered windows and the sound of drums
People could not believe what I'd become
Revolutionaries wait
For my head on a silver plate
Just a puppet on a lonely string
Oh who would ever want to be king?

(*) I'm absolutely positively addicted to that song at the moment. I guess I shouldn't have modified its beautifully poetic lyrics, but the image it inspires me is so powerfully associated with the fate of some lonely autocrat looking back at his past glory with a hint of regret, and also the idea that what goes around, comes back around.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

By traveling freely across cultures

those in search of the human essence

may find a space for all to sit...

Here a margin advances. Or a centre

retreats. Where East is not strictly east,

and West is not strictly west,

where identity is open onto plurality,

not a fort or a trench

Mahmud Darwish
1941 - 2008

Agnostic What?

I've been touring Morocco this summer and I spent quite a pleasant time rediscovering my own country. I thought I would embark into an intellectual as well as physical journey, setting about to enquire into how much change has occurred since I've been away. I was interested in the subtlest forms of change, shifts in attitudes, the trends, amongst the youngsters of course and in details of everyday life's interactions. I'm not pretending to have neither the knowledge nor the ambition of a professional sociologist, but I had a keen desire in keeping up to date with the environment in which I grew up, and with the people I consider most close to me. That's a feeling I wouldn't have imagined experiencing: the sheer anxiety of loosing track with home.

Life standards have undeniably improved in Morocco compared to some not very long time ago. Great disparity in the distribution of wealth of course with ridiculously wealthy people, affording levels of luxury and opulence seldom seen in western countries. Centralized power based on the archaic (but not un-sophisticated) system of governance called
the Makhzen... etc. etc. Thinks we (Moroccan bloggers and many friends of this blog) have extensively talked about and tried humbly to analyse. Not much really has changed from this view point unsurprisingly. But that's not what I was interested in probing into anyway.

The interesting thing I detected was a new and interesting way of imagining one's identity in a country like Morocco, torn between tradition and modernity, the west and the east, the north and the south, Arabhood and Berberhood, staying and leaving, accepting and revolting, obedience and dissent, Arabic and French.

Not once, not twice but numerous times I found myself agreeing with fellow countrymen who refused to be considered neither as traditionalists nor as ultra-liberals. And the question of how to put a name, a label on this 'middle group' of Arab/Berber/Muslim/secularists kept haunting me.

"I'm an Agnostic... Muslim" said one of my interlocutors. Agnostic what? How on earth one can on the one hand doubt the existence of a Superior Being and on the other, keep a title of belief? It's like saying that the Pope is planning for a wedding or that Mr Bush has got a brain. Not that I have a problem with people believing or not believing. That's none of my business. But I first thought, unless one adheres to the Orwellian principle of Doublethink, reconciling both things was simply unworkable. Unless... unless... Unless one doesn't consider Islam as a mere system of belief but rather as a cultural matrix. In other words, I can be a Muslim if I choose to keep up to Islam as a culture, a civilization, an identity, regardless of whether I believe in God or not, or whether I'm a practicing Muslim or not. Of course! That is brilliant!

But then I thought: that's quite a controversial topic in a region of the world where freedom of thought is not common place.

The impression I have today is that Muslims (in the agnostic sense of the term), like European Christians before them, have seen the horrors resulting from religion meddling into politics and into their lives and freedoms, and from religious fanaticism and subsequent violence, and have started a very slow, very patient semi-conscious process of obliterating this slippery way leading inexorably to fascism and totalitarianism. On the other hand, many have also well understood that unless one clings to his or her own culture and identity and avoids
self-loathing, individuals and the whole social structure runs the risk of permanent apathy and unproductiveness.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Ragged Trousered Blogger Calling

He - Ibrahim ferrer & compay segundo

Hot summer night down here. I'd like to share this elegant and refreshing song of the late Ibrahim Ferrer with anyone who's passing by. Anyway I'm not sure if the adjective 'blogger' applies any longer since I haven't been blogging for quite a substential amount of time now. I've turned to some kind of a lazy bohemian. I've been away for longer than I expected, contemplating the world around me, reading and absorbing as much blogger's writings as I can, discovering new literature and touring a Morocco as hospitable and sunny as ever. Or maybe I'm just becoming a bit sluggish?

Keep it up everybody! ...

Friday, May 23, 2008

Just a Little Break



"Most people are mirrors, reflecting the moods and emotions of the times. Some people are windows, bringing light to bear on the dark corners where troubles fester. The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows."
The Mirror is pausing because of damn-important exams. I'll be back very soon. In the mean time, I'll continue tracking and avidly reading all my blogging friends in Morocco and worldwide.

Oh... and the little mouse will take care of the mirror while I'm away.
Take care everybody!




Monday, May 12, 2008

Pity the Nation

The puppet regime in Beirut -officially led by Mr Seniora but remotely controlled by Mr Saad al-Hariri and his Western mentors-, which now has become a laughing-stock in the whole middle-east, has been forced to back down in the face of a perfectly organized Lebanese resistance led by Hezbollah, but comprising elements from all parts and groups of the Lebanese society.

Here is the account of the valuable correspondent of CounterPunch, Franklin Lamb.

Of Mice and Men, Part II


The US War on Journalists


If one wants to begin to understand the folly behind the abduction, torture and imprisonment of a man like Sami al-Hajj read this analysis of Amy Goodman, the host of "DemocracyNow," one of the few left independent news outlets in North America.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Smile for Palestine



Sixty years after the
Nakba the picture in Palestine is depressing, to say the least. But over the last decade or so, we've witnessed a dynamic of renaissance and awakening amongst the justice and peace camp, and the breaking down of some important taboos which served so far, helping Israel get away with its crimes against not only the Palestinian people but also against justice and History.


Many signs of hope are appearing. The shield of omerta and intellectual terrorism is cracking. More and more people are speaking out, and the cosy protection offered by the Israel lobby is fading away little by little.


We're entering a phase of History, I think, which is crucial for the Palestinian struggle. The bulk of Palestinian cause supporters are now much more mature, much more interconnected and experienced. Violence in pursuit of justice has shown its limits and new means with new horizons are emerging.
Mustapha Barghouti called this week in an interview with Le Monde Diplomatique, for the revival of a "mass non-violent resistance against Israel." This is the next (and natural) phase in the liberation struggle against the Zionist state and all it represents. A battle that Israel shall not and can not win.

Other battles are set to be lost by Israel, like the demographic one. Sooner or later, the Arab (indigenous) population of Palestine will surpass the Jewish one, and the picture will become even clearer of a minority oppressing the majority. If some, carefully ignore this reality now, they will soon be unable to deny the obvious: Israel as Apartheid, settlers’ state.

There are many solid grounds for hope.

Well, call me naive. I'd answer by paraphrasing Harold Pinter:


The general thrust these days is: "Oh, come on, it's all in the past, nobody's interested any more, it didn't work, everyone knows what the Americans and Israelis are like, but stop being naive, this is the world, there's nothing to be done about it and anyway fuck it, who cares?" But let me put it this way-the dead are still looking at us, waiting for us to make justice.


You better keep hope and smile for Palestine!


P.S. : Another cause for smiling: check out the music of these three Palestinian guys. The band is called Le Trio Joubran, and they are really doing some wonderful stuff. They have been touring the US recently.


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Need Some Breath of Fresh Air?



For those who need a break away from the ongoing chorus of sycophantic praise to the State of Israel throughout the mainstream media, here is what Uri Avneri remembered 60 years after the Nekba and the creation of the state of Israel, in an article relating his early commitment to Zionism (he even -surprisingly- participated at some point in attacking Arab villages, i.e. the early stages of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine) and utter disillusionment with what the whole entreprise led to. An article in which he describes Israel from within, as a country corrupted by war and occupation, tormented by what he called "the crusaders anxiety," and haunted by what I would call, the psychology of the thief.


Visit also alNakba.org which gathers testimonies about the "catastrophy," gives detailed informations about destroyed palestinian villages, recounts the chronology of the ethnic and cultural cleansing in Palestine.


Visit also The Khalil Sakakini Cultural Centre website: The Khalil Sakakini Cultural Centre foundation "is a non- governmental, non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of arts and culture in Palestine. The Sakakini Centre was founded in 1996, and is located in Ramallah."

Friday, May 2, 2008

Candid Jamaï


Aboubakr Jamaï, the former editor and publisher of Le Journal Hebdo (Casablanca), was hosted yesterday by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars under the subject matter: "Morocco: A Stalled Democratization Process?"


Excerpts from the candid discussion that ensued can be found here.

Of Mice and Men


After six years in an American gulag called Guatanamo, Aljazeera cameraman Sami al-Hajj has just been released according to an Aljazeera.net report.

"Rats are treated with more humanity", al-Hajj said to his Aljazeera colleagues.

"But we have people from more than 50 countries that are completely deprived of all rights and privileges.

"And they will not give them the rights that they give animals," he said, adding that inmate's "human dignity was violated."

Thursday, May 1, 2008

May Day


Remembering the dead of Casablanca

and wishing for a better and more

dignified tomorrow for all fellow workers

around the place.

"How Do Arab Regimes Modernize Authoritarianism"


"Since when have you compelled people to enslavement, since their mothers birthed them free."
Omar Ben al-Khattab





The Arab world is the one single region in the world that has little if not changed at all since François Georges-Picot and Mark Sykes determined its majors outlines according to their government's respective spheres of influence, prior to the downfall of the Ottoman Empire. Throughout the past century, the established dictatorial and regressive regimes have brought very little progress to their people.


For example, and according to UN Human Development Program's latest reports on the region, "the number of books translated in the Arab world is one fifth of the number translated in Greece. The aggregate total of translated books from the Al-Ma’moon era [in the ninth century] to the present day amounts to 10,000 books - equivalent to what Spain translates in a single year." Needless to add that in authoritative countries like these, an outcome as ridiculous as this one, can only and almost exclusively be attributed to the willingness of the Arab regimes to maintain their people in a state of cultural coma.


"The ruling power plays a key role in directing knowledge and in influencing its development or retardation. Since a ruling power works to foster knowledge patterns compatible with its orientation and goals, it inevitably resists or even suppresses other patterns that contradict its general direction," the report concludes.

Knowledge is of a course a central and strategic field in which Arab regimes have knowingly played a retarding role, but that applies also to almost all areas of human development and progress.


Hicham Ben Abdallah al-Alaoui, cousin of King Mohammed VI of Morocco, is a kind of a happy exception from within the Arab establishment. Founder of the Institute for the Trans-regional Study of the Contemporary Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia at Princeton University, he has regularly and boldly exposed the scandalous political realities of the Arab world often in an articulate and informed fashion. That caused him serious trouble with the moroccan royal household forcing him into a de facto exile. Apart from that he has participated in many international peace missions, including the UN's mission in Kosovo.

In his latest article* (fr), "How Do Arab Regimes Modernize Authoritarianism," Published in last month edition of Le Monde Diplomatique, he explains how Arab regimes have constantly reinvented pretexts to cling to power and how they are now adapting to the new geopolitical realities, to justify their oppressive rule.



(*) The article first appeared on the internet in e-Joussour.net and is an excerpt from a speech the prince gave last March in a conference held in Le Conseil des Relations Internationales at Montréal. The original piece published in the April paper issue of Le Monde Diplomatique might appear in the following days on the official website of the French monthly magazine.

Picture Courtesy of "3arabawy."

Monday, April 28, 2008

Cruel


Fascism is capitalism plus murder.”
Upton Sinclair.


A fire destroyed the lives of 55 Moroccan workers, among which 35 women, in a mattress factory in Hay Hassani, an industrial district of the city of Casablanca.


According to aljazeera.net, "Civil protection officials said it had become clear that safety norms had not been applied in the Rosamor factory in the south-west of Morocco's biggest city."



An emergency officer said managers had locked in staff during work hours to stop theft, trapping them in the fire on Saturday. The blaze quickly turned into an inferno, burning victims alive, while others leapt to safety, but many women workers were too scared to jump and were trapped.



Later on, the authorities arrested the factory's bosses and an enquiry into the causes of the blaze was ordered.

Unfortunately, In a country where a savage and primitive predatory form of capitalism has flourished, endemic corruption, a quasi-absence of state regulations, added to a systematic abuse of workers' rights, tragedies like the one that struck Casablanca might reoccur.

Friday, April 25, 2008

History Written by Those Who Hanged the Heroes


"Honesty has a beautiful and refreshing simplicity about it. No ulterior motives. No hidden meanings. An absence of hypocrisy, duplicity, political games, and verbal superficiality. As honesty and real integrity characterize our lives, there will be no need to manipulate others."
Charles Swindoll


According to Electronic Intifada, the pro-Israel, gutter propagandist group, CAMERA, "[has been] orchestrating a secret, long-term campaign to infiltrate the popular online encyclopedia Wikipedia to rewrite Palestinian history, pass off crude propaganda as fact, and take over Wikipedia administrative structures to ensure these changes go either undetected or unchallenged."

It looks like the EI article has sparked a reaction from Wikipedia administrators and from Camera operatives who seem to have halted their activities.

Next time you look for a Wiki reference on Palestine (and that goes for me as well), please pinch you noses hard... it stinks lies, manipulations and canard there.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Cartoon I Do

From now on I'll try to punctuate my posts on this blog by some humble, mostly political cartoons of mine inspired by current and past events.

This one I drew in august 2007 with an epithet in Arabic deploring the calamitous Arab leadership.

Creative Commons License

This other one is a bit older, december 2006. Creative Commons License

And this last one I made last august just before Moroccan legislative elections.

Creative Commons License

More to come.

Spy Game: Who's Playing Whom?


Another American citizen arrested on "suspicion of passing classified defence information to Israel during the 1980s, according to the justice department." (Aljazeera.net).

This story far from surprising me, has yet again revived the old torturous question about who's playing whom? who's getting the upper hand in this supposedly "special relationship" between Israel and the US?

Many have read the paper by Mearsheimer and Walt who asked "why has the United States been willing to set aside its own security in order to advance the interests of another state? One might assume that the bond between the two countries is based on shared strategic interests or compelling moral imperatives. [H]owever, neither of those explanations can account for the remarkable level of material and diplomatic support that the United States provides to Israel."

The courageous authors, who have been subjected to ad hominem attacks and an unprecedented campaign of character assassination have succeeded in breaking the taboo surrounding the intricate links between both America and Israel.

They argued that one of the reasons "to question Israel’s strategic value [to the U.S.] is that it does not act like a loyal ally."

Israeli officials frequently ignore U.S. requests and renege on promises made to top U.S. leaders (including past pledges to halt settlement construction and to refrain from “targeted assassinations” of Palestinian leaders). Moreover, Israel has provided sensitive U.S. military technology to potential U.S. rivals like China, in what the U.S. State Department Inspector‐General called “a systematic and growing pattern of unauthorized transfers.” According to the U.S. General Accounting Office, Israel also “conducts the most aggressive espionage operations against the U.S. of any ally.” In addition to the case of Jonathan Pollard, who gave Israel large quantities of classified material in the early 1980s (which Israel reportedly passed onto the Soviet Union to gain more exit visas for Soviet Jews), a controversy erupted in 2004 when it was revealed that a key Pentagon official (Larry Franklin) had passed classified information to an Israeli diplomat, allegedly aided by two AIPAC officials. Israel is hardly the only country that spies on the United States, but its willingness to spy on its principal patron casts further doubt on its strategic value.
Of course there are those, like Chomsky, who argue that Israel is America's cop on the beat in the region. In other words it is (benevolently) doing America's dirty work in the ME, working as a client-state and providing the U.S. of all kind of subterfuges it needs, even to the detriment of Israel's own security. Hum...? But why would they have to spy on their protectors then? I agree with Mearsheimer-Walt on this one.

Friday, April 18, 2008

All Aboard!

Non Violent Initiative to Free Gaza

This may, marks the 60th anniversary of the Nakba (or the Catastrophe) which saw the creation of Israel on the land stolen from the Palestinians. This injustice engendered a permanent state of tension and violence which often spills over to other regions of the world. Sixty years of:

Insults, incursions, illegal and immoral occupation...

Slaughter, siege, settlements and segregation...


Rampage and racist institutionalization...


Apartheid and annexation...


Ethnic cleansing, extrajudicial executions and...


Lobby pressure and intimidations



The Free Gaza initiative has launched a campaign aiming at breaking the siege on Gaza by organizing a non-violent journey by sea and trying to reach the open sky concentration camp called Gaza. "We've tried to enter Palestine by land. We've tried to arrive by air. Now we're getting serious. We're taking a ship" says their website.



Yesterday, normanfinkelstein.com published an appeal by the group of activists calling for more volonteers and asking for financial help:



Dear Boat People:It is three and a half months until the launch of our boat project to Gaza. Those of us actively involved in boat procurement have been working hard at finalizing some of the details, and we can announce that we are negotiating for boats that will hold up to 40-45 people.


We won't stop looking for other boats (depending on funding), but we are confident that 40-45 people will be able to go in August on the maiden voyage to Gaza. Here, then, are the details



  1. Twenty-five of us will assemble in Cyprus on August 1, 2008.

  2. 15-20 people will go directly to Egypt on July 25 to help sail one or more boats to Cyprus. No experience required, but we also need a mix of backgrounds for this part of the project. Nonviolent training for this group will take place in Egypt. We will let you know more about these details, after we get a count of people who are interested in this part of the project. (Contact Paul Larudee for more details at Harmonicprogressive@gmail.com)

As well as telling us which of those two groups you want to join, we also need commitments for the following:An additional ground crew of 10-12 people willing to stay in Cyprus for the duration of the trip, field media opportunities, run training in nonviolent techniques, and then either be willing to be part of the second trip in mid-August or remain the ground crew. Some of you are already specifically interested in being just ground crew, so please reconfirm by contacting Bella at accessforpeace@riseup.net


We need feedback from all of you by the end of April, because there will be certain abilities, languages, countries and ages that will have primary consideration.




During the British mandate on Palestine, hundreds (around 4,500) of holocaust survivors, secretly packed by Zionist agents of the Haganah on an old steamer, the "exodus," succeeded in 1947 in breaking the British blockade on Palestine aimed at limiting the number of Jewish migrants. The whole thing was carefully orchestrated in order to provoke the inevitable bloody confrontation that ensued. The pictures of desperate European Jews, being forced to go back to war-torn Europe shocked the Western (mainly American) viewers and helped boost the Zionist project in Palestine.



The current Free Gaza initiative may be inspired by the "Exodus" story, but its aim is diametrically opposed to it. I have a feeling it's going to be hot in Gaza beach this August. Watch this space!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

You've Had Enough of AIPAC? ... Here Comes J Street

"The world is pretty awful today, but it is far
better than yesterday.
"

Noam Chomsky

An interesting article was published yesterday on the New York based Jewish newspaper, The Forward, titled "For Israel’s Sake, Moderate American Jews Must Find Their Voice" by Jeremy Ben-Ami, executive director of the newly formed Jewish lobby group, J Street.

According to Antiwar.com, the movement, allegedly aimed at counterbalancing the influence of AIPAC as the major representative of Jewish-Americans, has already been joined by some prominent Jewish figures.

The author states that...

For the sake of Israel, the United States and the world, it is time for American political discourse to re-engage with reality. Voices of reason need to reclaim what it means to be pro-Israel and to establish in American political discourse that Israel’s core security interest is to achieve a negotiated two-state solution and to define once and for all permanent, internationally-recognized borders.

Ben-Ami goes on to explain his personal history and how his disillusions with what he calls "the extreme right" of the Jewish political spectrum came about, calling for a rupture.

Somehow, for American politicians or activists to express opposition to settlement expansion — or support for active American diplomacy, dialogue with Syria or engagement with Iran — has become subversive and radical, inviting vile, hateful emails and a place on public lists of Israel-haters and antisemites. For the particularly unlucky, it leads to public, personal attacks on one’s family and heritage. Enough. In early 21st-century America, the rules of politics are being rewritten, and conventional political orthodoxy is clearly open to once-inconceivable challenges. It is time for the broad, sensible mainstream of pro-Israel American Jews and their allies to challenge those on the extreme right who claim to speak for all American Jews in the national debate about Israel and the Middle East — and who, through the use of fear and intimidation, have cut off reasonable debate on the topic.

The author continues denouncing the incestuous alliances and strong ties that AIPAC has cultivated with right-wing Christian Zionists, such as John Hagee.

In our name, PACs and other political associations have embraced the most radically right-wing figures on the American political scene [...] all in the guise of being “pro-Israel.” In Washington today, these voices are seen to speak for the entire American Jewish community. But they don’t speak for me. And I don’t believe they speak for the majority of the American Jews with whom I have lived and worked.

All this sounds fair enough to me but I can't help being doubtful about the extent to which such initiative might lead or the real motives behind such a move, because throughout the article it is only a question really of who deserves to be considered pro-Israel. At times, the article sounds circumvallating around core issues like the notion of Justice, of negotiating with Hamas, the legitimate representative of the Palestinians, the question of the right of return, the question of Jerusalem... Sometimes the author who claims to be "moderate" (whatever the term might mean) refers with nostalgia to members of the Irgun (a terrorist Zionist organisation which helped form the first battalions of the Israel "Defence" Force) like Z. Jabotinsky, a notorious murderer.

But the author finally hints at an aspect of Israel's position, rarely evoked.

I also know in my heart that this is not just a matter of survival. What will it say of us as a people if at a rare moment in our communal history when we have achieved success, acceptance and power, we fail to act according to the values and ideals passed down to us over thousands of years when we were the outcasts, the minority and the powerless?

I might be doubtful about such initiatives but something that should bring comfort to many Justice and Peace activists is the fact that the lobby is definitely weakening by the day!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Cartoons for Justice: the Other Way to Fight


I've come across some great cartoons recently dealing with issues close to my heart. Artists have covered issues with an audacity and growing courage seldom manifested in the past, denouncing Zionist ongoing crimes in Palestine, depicting the absurdity of the Iraq occupation and praising liberation and resistance struggles everywhere.

But the one artist who caught my eyes most is the Brazilian, freelance cartoonist, Carlos Latuff.

Samples of his work were published throughout the internet and the American scholar Norman G. Finkelstein hosts a series of samples of Carlos' cartoons on his
official website.

According to another
website, allegedly Carlos' official blog, the artist is inviting "Arab newspapers and magazines to reproduce [his] cartoons free of charge in order to reach Arab audience whom do not speak English and have no Internet access." Apparently, it is catching fire with the cartoons starting to appear in many Arab magazines and newspapers.

The website also claims that "[it] was visited by the U.S. Department of Defence Network Information Center, while searching for 'Carlos Latuff' on Google." They might be doing something right then!

... So for anybody reading this, please reproduce and communicate latuff's work.

> Other Artists:

Equally talented and a friend of this blog, is the Belgian cartoonist and journalist, Ben Heine. His work can be found on his blog
here.

Khalid Bendib, who speaks courageously to power and greed.

Anis Hamadeh, the accomplished artist who committed himself to beautifully preserve the Palestinian memory.

And many more: look at the Photo/Cartoon section of this blog.

Pictures are Courtesy of Carlos Latuff.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Speaking French to a... Cradle!


The Sad Story of a Culturally Alienated Society

When I first decided to start blogging, it was clear in my mind that I wouldn't in any way write in French. And yet French has accompanied me for most of my life and is practically a second mother tongue. I decided to write in English and Arabic. The first because it is the world's language and the latter because it's supposed to be my own language, part of my identity, of which I'm proud. I wasn't motivated at all by any anti-French feeling or some weird nationalistic zealotry. I was simply trying (symbolically) to reclaim the right to my own language and to emancipate (legitimately I think) from the imposed linguistic prison and cultural prism through which I was subconsciously forced to see and interpret the world.

I never felt the urgency or need to write about this issue until I recently witnessed one of my closest friends speak to his newborn son (few days old) in French. He explained how he (an Arab) and his wife (Arab too), although living in Morocco, a supposedly Arab (and Berber) country, deliberately decided to speak French and inculcate French culture to their beloved newborn child.

This is not an exceptional peculiarity in today's Morocco.The north-African kingdom is one of the rare Arab countries (with Lebanon) who -thanks to geographical or geopolitical considerations- has remained open to foreign cultural influences and benefited largely and undeniably from that interaction. But the country has developed very little during its 52 years of independence and having adopted an archeo-capitalistic economic and political system, only a fraction of the population has really achieved any social success. A system that fosters the advancement of a small breed of elites, already favoured by their blood kinship and/or by nepotism. But the system also allowed some, to contemplate and achieve real success, forming a tiny but remarkably active urban bourgeoisie. However, in order to enter this glittering and restrictive world of fortune and achievement, made in Morocco, you must adopt the language of success: French. That, in turn, acted as an efficient incentive for a massive cultural cringe.

Affluent Moroccans -with the exception of some prosperous conservative Islamists- and those who aspire to join them or at least enable their children to reach prosperity, speak often French and put their children in missions françaises : French government-funded schools, originally created to provide education for French nationals and which now receive mostly Moroccan children whose parents prefer to pay the overly expensive application fees rather than trust the bankrupt public education system.

Hence (maybe) the attitude of my friend toward his newborn child. A behaviour significantly representative of an ambitious class of young parents legitimately avid of securing their offspring's future.

In addition to this quite pragmatic and reasonably understandable attitude, the Moroccan society has gradually drifted into a cultural alienation en masse: e.g. It's commonplace in Morocco to hear self-loathing comments dismissive of Moroccans own culture as inferior to that of western immediate neighbours; many would claim that Morocco was better-off under Franco-Spanish occupation while all evidence show how the country was grossly and savagely raped and exploited and little infrastructure left for the sake of the country's own development; very fierce opposition often develops against any reform of the education system that would include "Arabisation," a term which became synonymous of aversion and often generates odium since the failure of a reform conducted in the 70s for purely electoralistic purposes, with no clear planning by the then-(allegedly)-panarabist party of Istiqlal, and which saw generations of young Moroccan students engage in an educational system ridiculously incompatible with the realities of the job market producing scores of under-qualified and dangerously disillusioned graduates. Although this phenomenal failure was clearly due to political interference and lack of planning, the Arabic language per se, remained the principle cause of the fiasco in the mind of many Moroccans who often praise almost everything French as panacea.

Self-loathing is commonly heard in discussions with people mostly discouraged and deeply disillusioned with their own cultural background and own identity.

That, to me, shows a serious and quasi-pathological state of self-hatred often dubbed by social anthropologists, "colonial mentality."

"Culturally alienated societies often exhibit a weak sense of cultural self-identity and place little worth on themselves," yielding dysfunctional attitudes and a "permanent state of discouragement" according to post-colonial anthropologists like Helen Tiffin. Mental and social well being, the prerequisite condition for healthy, cohesive and productive societies can rarely be achieved in these conditions. Alfred Adler, the pioneer of social and community psychology, clearly identified an intrinsic inferiority complex at the root of the self-devaluating process in culturally cringed societies. He emphasised "the importance of social equality in order to prevent various forms of psychopathology and espoused the development of social interest and democratic family structures as the ideal ethos for raising children." (source: Wikipedia). I think that my friend would be interested in hearing that.

Unbelievably enough, half a century after (formal) independence from France, almost half of the Moroccan population is still illiterate. Most of the few presumably literates speak, read or write only Arabic, many of whom understand barely classical Arabic. The fact of adopting French as the quasi-exclusive language of mainstream news, knowledge, science, economics has in effect acted as a cultural Apartheid for the scores of disenfranchised, uneducated Moroccans, condemning them to a state of permanent ignorance and subordination. The dilemma is to insure that knowledge and information is provided fairly to the largest possible amount of people without stigmatizing any of the foreign languages and cultures or denying their invaluable benefits or losing one's own culture and identity in the process.

The picture is not completely bleak though. The Aljazeera "revolution" having proved to the world and to the most sceptics (amongst which I counted) that the Arabic language was alive and kicking, easily adaptable to different issues ranging from news to science, art...

Also the recent publication by some prominent Moroccan intellectuals and journalists of magazines and newspapers in Darija, the local Arabic dialect, opened an even larger opportunity to reach the greatest number of people.
Picture Courtesy of "Ladies! Yea Ladies!"

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité... Terms and Conditions Apply!

Paris, 3 days ago, the news dispatch from the AFP reads:

A French senior civil servant has been sacked for publishing a violent anti-Israeli diatribe on a web site, the interior ministry said. Bruno Guigue, deputy prefect of the south-western town of Saintes, wrote in an online column this month that Israel was "the only state where snipers shoot down little girls outside their school gates." The author of several books on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Guigue wrote of the "Israeli jails where -- thanks to religious law -- they stop torturing on the Sabbath." Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie dismissed the official after learning of the column on Wednesday, the ministry said.

Bruno Guigue wrote the piece (fr) on a website, oumma.com, in which he criticized some French neocons and proIsrael advocates, who launched a frenzied campaign against the UN Council on HR. The article is a rare demonstration of eloquent courage. Refreshingly honest and quite significant given the rank and quality of the author.

[...] As for terrorism, the state of Israel can boast of unrivalled achievements. The awful attacks of september 11, 2001 have caused ten times less victims than the 1982 siege of Beirut by Tsahal. Western admirers of Israel must be mesmerized by an army capable of killing children using cruise missiles [...] wrote the author.

Guigue commented on the biased and openly defamatory campaign by a bunch of French intellos who proclaimed themselves contemporary defenders of French values, and paramount of all is of course the right to express one's self. The likes of Pascal Bruckner, Alain Finkielkraut (the equivalent in France of Norman Podhoretz), Claude Lanzmann, Elie Wiesel, Pierre-André Taguieff, Frédéric Encel, George Frêche, Robert Redecker (the gutter geek of French intelligentsia) and many others, most of whom open Islamophobes, periodically popping-up on screens to explain how it is important for France not to pander to "Islamofascists." They supported the publication of the Danish cartoons -fair enough- but they added that Western values are in big danger of being eroded by an ever growing Muslim population (some have even invented the term of Eurabia). Yesterday, I browsed over some prominent French newspapers and news websites, but haven't found a word from those same auteurs de la bien-pensance -or preachers of the well thinking as they are sometimes sarcastically called- who seem to consider that the freedom and values they are allegedly defending, exclude obvious offenders like Israel who has the money to buy out their bloody conscience.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Five Years of Protectorate


Five years after the US-led invasion of Iraq and the installation of a puppet regime, Iraqis are still waiting for the seventh heaven promised by Bush and Co.

The slight decline in the inter-ethnic violence must be the result of the almost now complete segregation of the Iraqi society. Iraq has been fragmented, shattered according to the whim of the invaders. Divide Et Imperia.

The stooge government doesn't have much authority nor enjoys any meaningful sovereignty, having to constantly be monitored and protected by the American master. A little illustration:


Gun-waving soldiers first cleared all traffic from the streets. Then four black armored cars, each with three machine gunners on the roof, raced out of a heavily fortified exit from the Green Zone, followed by sand-coloured American Humvees and more armoured cars. Finally, in the middle of the speeding convoy, we saw six identical bullet proof vehicles with black windows, one of which must have carried Mr Maliki. [...] The Iraqi prime minister was only going to the headquarters of the Dawa party to which he belongs and which are only half a mile from the Green Zone but his hundreds of security guards acted as if they were entering enemy territory.
Patrick Cockburn in Baghdad.

Over one million Iraqis have died as a result of the illegal invasion of their country according to many sources. More than four million Iraqis have now either left the country or been forced to move from their homes and neighbourhoods in order to aggregate with fellow ethnic or sectarian peers. And those numbers are now acknowledged by the Americans themselves, who so far have lost around four thousand of their soldiers for the sake of Chevron, Exxon-Mobile, Carlyle, and the like. Democracy and justice will have to wait.

Picture Courtesy of Carlos Latuff.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Non-Violent Dissent Pays

Fouad Mourtada reportedly freed yesterday after being granted royal amnesty, having spent nearly two mouths in prison for no tangible reason other than committing a crime of lèse-majesté. Even in Morocco, resilient, perseverant and honest non-violent dissent pays.

The news from Morocco (if confirmed) is a real sigh of relief for many bloggers, and HR activists who campaigned hard to make the case of Fouad known and widely published. But this is not a victory for democracy nor for HR (as the Moroccan writer Laila Lalami rightly pointed out on her blog) because the institutions of the monarchy have acted in clear subservience to the central power. And I don't think that one can feel comfortable yet in a country where people are being imprisoned and later released according to the will and whims of one single person. Anyway, Fouad is now a free man. Until Mourtada's arrest, Moroccans have enjoyed reasonably free access to the internet compared to the regional standards. They rightly spotted the danger of imprisoning Mourtada and they succesfully named and shamed the Moroccan government for what it did. Throughout the Arab World, though, many bloggers and other prisoners of opinion still languish in prisons sometimes without due process or any legal recourse.

By the way, Aid Maulid a'Nabawi Saîd (happy Maulid feast).