Monday, April 28, 2008


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, "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." (

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, 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

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

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, 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

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!"