Friday, May 28, 2010

Badael-Alternatives بدائل

In Badael this week I wrote about the Prix Samir Kassir which allows Israelis to participate. Maya Yaghi wrote about the coop of Arab Salim and the dibs of jabal al rafi`.,18820

Saturday, May 22, 2010

May the farce be with you

I have written a lot about Sami Haddad, the previous Lebanese Minister of Economy and Trade, seen here rejoicing the idea of selling the country's assets to the private sector, as the caption in this Akhbar article puts it. He was spotted chairing a session yesterday in the meeting of the Arab Economic Forum, where the minions of the neo-liberal Lebanese economic regime were pushing so hard for privatization that a banker had to call them to order. If that is not hilarious, I don't know what is.

غزّة: سمك بلا بحر

غزة مدينة ساحلية، لكنها محرومة من بحرها الممتد لنحو أربعين كيلومتراً من شمالها إلى جنوبها. ينظر الغزّيّون إلى البحر بحسرة، وقد حرمهم الاحتلال خيره الوفير، حتى أجبرت الجرائم الإسرائيلية كثيراً من الصيادين على هجر مهنتهم الوحيدة، فيما يغامر قليلون بأرواحهم ليجلبوا ما يسدّ رمقهم في زمن الحصار والقهر وتفشي الفقر والبطالة. هي حرب إذاً؛ ملاحقة ومطاردة وإطلاق نار واعتقال صيادين وابتزازهم ومساومتهم بالتخابر، في مقابل السماح لهم بالصيد. والنتيجة: يعاني السوق في غزة من نقص حاد في الأسماك. وعندما كان هذا هو الواقع المأسوي، ولدت فكرة إنشاء «مزارع الأسماك» لمقاومة الحصار والعدوان

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Mediterranean is sinking

An the Middle East will soon follow. All these notions, introduced to force Israel into the Arab region are bound to fail.

رفض عربي موحّد لإدراج الهضبة كموقع اسرائيلي 
استمرار الخلافات في الاتحاد المتوسطي: احتلال الجولان يفشل مؤتمر السياحة

Badael-Alternatives بدائل

Today in Badael, organic farming is the star. Two articles about Kameel Akoury and his walnut eau de vie, written by Rameh Hamiyyeh. And my editorial: Organic products for everyone...,18793

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Green (de)politics

"Nestlé, the world's biggest food manufacturer, says it will make the palm oil in its best-selling chocolate bars more eco-friendly, after a guerrilla campaign against it on the internet.

The Swiss confectionery-to-coffee giant said it was inviting a not-for-profit group to audit its supply chain and promised to cancel contracts with any firm found to be chopping down rainforests to produce the vegetable oil, which it uses in KitKat, Aero and Quality Street.

The concession followed a three-month campaign by the environmental group Greenpeace, which led to Nestlé being attacked on social networking sites such as Facebook and YouTube. One million people watched Greenpeace's spoof advert for KitKat, despite its being taken off YouTube temporarily after a legal threat." (Thanks Laila)

It's not that I'm not happy for the orangutans, but the problem with Nestle goes far far beyond the environment: corporate control, pushing the consumption of unhealthy foods, forcing baby infant formula, investing in Israel...But the international environmental movement won't talk about that. They would rather try hard to bring the oppressor and the oppressed (zionists and Palestinians) together around a vapid agenda of green reconciliation. Recently IUCN has tried again to bring Arabs and israelis to a meeting in Spain to discuss "Important Plants Areas" in the Middle East. The only important plant part in this meeting was the fig leaf that could barely cover the attempt at forcing track 2 diplomacy and de-facto recognition of Israel. The Lebanese delegation withdrew. Goes to show how lame and soft and mainstream liberal Green (de)politics are: their biggest institutions act as zionist propagandists and then dare to use the word "justice".

Expect a rise in xenophobia

"But Spaniards have been largely shut out of those jobs. Those bent over rows of strawberries under plastic greenhouse sheeting or climbing ladders in the midday sun are now almost all foreigners: Romanians, Poles, Moroccans, many of them in Spain legally.

“The farmers here don’t want us,” Mr. Rivera said with a defeated shrug.

Local officials and union leaders say Mr. Rivera has it right. Farmers have been reluctant to take Spanish workers back — unsure whether they will work as hard as the foreigners who have been picking their crops, sometimes for a decade now.

So far, only 5 percent of the pickers this year are Spaniards, said Diego Cañamero, the head of one of Spain’s largest labor organizations, the Field Workers Union, or S.O.C. He said the union was working to keep tempers from flaring and to persuade farmers to employ local people again, but with little success.

“There is a sense of bewilderment among the Spanish workers,” he said. “They say: Why do they let people come 5,000 miles, when we need the jobs?”" (Thanks Annie)

We are all someone else's farmworkers. But I expect a rise in xenophobia, and not only against Africans especially as the Spanish economy is going the way of Greece, and the Euro zone is shaky.

Aid toi et le ciel t'aidera

"In War Games: the Story of Aid and War in Modern Times, Polman argues that humanitarianism has become a massive industry that, along with the global media, forms an unholy alliance with warmongers.

Since the end of the cold war, the business of humanitarian aid has flourished. During the proxy wars fought by African and Asian states backed by the Soviet Union, China and the USA, aid agencies found it very difficult to gain access to war zones. But with the end of the Soviet Union, suggests Polman, regions afflicted by war became something like charity enterprise zones, creating a massive expansion in the aid industry. Back in 1980 there were about 40 INGOs (international non-government organisations) dealing with Cambodian refugees on the Thai border. A decade later, there were 250 operating during the Yugoslavian war. By 2004, there were 2,500 involved in Afghanistan.

All too frequently, according to Polman, the result is not what it says in the charity brochures. She cites a damning catalogue of examples from Biafra to Darfur, and including the Ethiopian famine, in which humanitarian aid has helped prolong wars, or rewarded the perpetrators of ethnic cleansing and genocide rather than the victims. Perhaps the most striking case in the book deals with the aftermath of the genocide in Rwanda in which the Hutu killers fled en masse across the border to what was then Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo). There, in Goma, huge refugee camps were assembled and served by an enormous array of international agencies, while back in Rwanda, where Tutsi corpses filled rivers and lakes, aid was not so focused. The world was looking for refugees, the symbol of human catastrophe, and the refugees were Hutus. This meant the militias that had committed the atrocities received food, shelter and support, courtesy of international appeals, while their surviving victims were left destitute.
The problems, she says, is that while aid agencies may recognise their failings they are unwilling to address them because of the pressures of competition. Humanitarianism is a multi-billion-dollar business and if one charity pulls out of an operation, be it from moral or strategic concerns, there are plenty of others who will fill their place and solicit their funding. Recent years have also seen a large growth in smaller organisations, set up to negate the bureaucratic practices of the larger aid agencies. They can be run by just a handful of people – hence they've been named MONGOs (my own non-governmental organisations) – but Polman believes that while they may cut through red tape, they only add to the sense of chaos and competition in the field."

المرشحة لبلدية صديقين صديقتي مريم بلحص

ميزة أخرى تتمتع بها «صديقين للتنمية»، هي أنّ مرشحيها من الشباب، ومن بينهم العاملة الاجتماعية مريم بلحص، التي بادرت إلى صياغة برنامج انتخابي من خلال ورش عمل شارك فيها شباب البلدة، الذين استطلعت آراءهم بشأن «أيّ صديقين يريدون بعد 6 سنوات؟». فتبين من خلال الملصقات التي يوزعها أعضاء اللائحة منذ يومين على منازل الناخبين الـ2214، أنهم بحاجة إلى إنشاء صندوق تعاضدي وتكافل وسوق تجاري وقروض ميسّرة وتعزيز المستوى التعليمي وإنشاء مركز ثقافي ورياضي ومكتبة عامة

فلسطينيو الضفة الغربية يلاحقون منتجات المستوطنات من بيت لبيت

That's what I call BDS

see also here

إسرائيلي في بعلبك: دائرة العار تتسع An Israeli in Baalbeck

ذكر مراسل صحيفة «يديعوت أحرونوت» في برلين، إلداد بك، أمس أنه زار مدينة بعلبك خلال الأسابيع الماضية، متحدثاً في تقرير نشره أمس عن انتعاش المدينة وأهلها، مقارنة مع ما رآه خلال «زيارة سابقة قبل 14 عاماً»!
وفيما تعذّر الاتصال أمس بوزير الداخلية زياد بارود لسؤاله عن حقيقة الأمر، رأى مسؤول أمني رفيع أن الخبر «فضيحة لنا جميعاً، كأجهزة أمنية، في حال ثبوت صحته». وتساءل مسؤول أمني آخر عن الإجراءات التي كانت المديرية العامة للأمن العام اللبناني قد أعلنت اتخاذها على المعابر الحدودية من أجل منع تسلل إسرائيليين بجوازات سفر أجنبية، عقب اغتيال القيادي في حركة «حماس» محمود المبحوح في دبي، واكتشاف شرطة دبي أن مجموعة الاغتيال استخدمت جوازات سفر أوروبية لدخول الإمارة الخليجية.
وكتب مراسل «يديعوت أحرونوت» أن الأمين العام لحزب الله السيد حسن نصر الله «بات يدرك أنه لا يكفي تخزين الصواريخ وأنه يجب شق الطرقات وتشجيع السياحة». وتحدث المراسل الإسرائيلي عن أعمال «كبيرة جارية في الشوارع»، ناقلاً عن أحد المواطنين في بعلبك «تأكيده أن هذه الأعمال تأتي على خلفية الانتخابات البلدية».
وادعى بك أن مواطناً لبنانياً آخر قال له إن «نصر الله أدرك أنه ينبغي التقرب من الناس. فهو براغماتي وليس عقائدياً متشدداً، وهو سياسي قلباً وقالباً. وإنه يعرف أنه ينبغي القيام بتسويات، ولذلك هو لا يبرز الجوانب الدينية لحزب الله، بل يتحدث عن الكرامة الوطنية والوحدة الوطنية، ولهذا السبب هناك مؤيّدون له بين الطوائف الأخرى». وقال بك إن المواطن اللبناني رأى أن نصر الله «ليس إنساناً كاملاً، ولديه أخطاء بينها أسر الجنديين الإسرائيليين في عام 2006 الذي أدى إلى الحرب والدمار والخراب». وأضاف إنه «أزيلت مظاهر التحريض الأرعن والعداء للسامية ضد إسرائيل على نحو كامل تقريباً من بعلبك، وهي المظاهر التي كانت جزءاً لا يتجزأ من المدينة عندما زرتها في المرة الأولى». ورغم ذلك، كتب بك أنه لمس من خلال محادثات مع شبان لبنانيين من جميع الطوائف تأييدهم لحزب الله «لأن الوحدة الوطنية الهشة تستند بالأساس إلى عداء بالغ ومطلق لإسرائيل»، لافتاً إلى أن «هؤلاء الشبان المولودين بعد الحرب الأهلية يخترعون أساطير تاريخية مريحة».الأخبار، يو بي آي)

Eldad Beck from Yedioth Aharonot visited Baalbeck in the past few weeks. Did they try to sell him a Hizbollah T-shirt? 

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Submedia on Palestine

This Week:

1. Oil Flopping
2. May Day Machete
3. P.I.G.S.
4. Betty Cariño R.I.P.
5. Unsettling Israeli violence
6. Lowkey - Long Love Palestine
7. Colonization 101

I am speaking in colonization 101

Saturday, May 15, 2010

إسرائيلية في بيروت

المكان: جامعة الحكمة، بيروت. الزمان: 20 نيسان 2010 ــ اليوم الثاني من مؤتمر دراسة وضع المياه في الشرق الأوسط، ضمن برنامج مخصص لطلاب الماسترز. الطالبة تعلن: أنا إسرائيلية
صدفة. يصرّ بعض الطلاب على أنها صدفة. دهش بعضهم حين أعلنت الطالبة أنها إسرائيلية (دخلت بجواز سفر يوناني). البرنامج أكاديمي، أعدّته جامعة الحكمة، بالتعاون مع جامعة باريس11 ـــــ كلية جان مونيه، على أن يليه أسبوع سياحة للزائرين. و«صادفت» أيضاً، أنّ الطلاب اليهود الآخرين في البعثات، جميعهم اختاروا طلاباً لبنانيين وعرباً، ليكونوا شركاء لهم، من بين عشرات الطلاب الأجانب الآخرين. وكان موضوع النقاش بحد ذاته نقطة صراع شائكة في الأساس مع إسرائيل: المياه. نحن نتحدث عن مياه لبنانيّة مسلوبة هنا. أكثر من ذلك، إن خلاصة المشروع الذي سيتناقش فيه الطلاب، ستقدّم إلى الاتحاد الأوروبي. حينها، سيُقال هناك آراء طلاب لبنانيين: ثمة لبنانيون موافقون على ذلك. إذاً، ثمة سؤال: كيف قرأ هؤلاء مشكلة المياه في الشرق الأوسط؟
في الأساس، جرى اللقاء بإشراف وزير الشؤون الاجتماعية، سليم الصايغ، بصفته الأكاديمية في الجامعة، لكونه أسّس هذا القسم (الدبلوماسية واستراتيجية التفاوض). أما من الناحية التقنيّة، فالبرنامج أكاديمي صرف. تقمّص طلاب الماسترز من جامعة الحكمة وباريس 11 وجامعة عبد المالك السعيدي في طنجة أدوار ممثلي دول حوض البحر الأبيض المتوسط. وسعت المفاوضات التي دامت يومين للوصول إلى اتفاقية تحدد التعاملات المتعلقة بالمياه بين الدول المتوسطية. كانت مهمة الطلاب أداء الأدوار بكل «موضوعية» مع احترام المعطيات السياسية الحقيقية، لخلق نص قانوني يطرح المشاكل الواقعية والتشنّجات المتوسطية المتعلقة بالمياه. توصّل الطلاب في هذه المفاوضات إلى نصّ يضم مقترحات حلول اقتصادية، تقنية وسياسية، صُدّق عليها بالإجماع، مع احترام القانون الدولي والبروتوكولات الدبلوماسية بالإجماع.
خلال المؤتمر، تقلّصت مساحة «الموضوعية» تدريجاً. اختار كل طالب بلداً يمثّله. يناقش باسمه بعد أن يدرس تاريخه وواقعه
استبدل اسم «إسرائيل» عن اللافتة بآخر هو «سويسرا» للتمويه
الجيوسياسي. ثمة طلاب اختاروا فرنسا، وآخرون اختاروا تركيا، أو العراق، أو سوريا، وكان هناك طلاب أوروبيون طبعاً. وهنا المفاجأة الهائلة. إسرائيل كانت ممثّلة. صحيح أن المنظّمين راعوا حساسية الوضع. تفادوا وضع لافتة مكتوب عليها «إسرائيل»، أمام الطالب المغربي الذي تبنّى وجهة النظر الإسرائيلية في النقاشات الأكاديمية. لطّفوا الأمر قليلاً، واختاروا أن تكون اللافتة باسم سويسرا.
التفاصيل مختلفة. ناقش الطالب باسم إسرائيل. غريب فعلاً أن يجتمع لبنانيون ويهود وعرب... وإسرائيلية لدراسة أطر الدبلوماسية في موضوع شرق أوسطي حساس تحديداً. بعد التدقيق في الصيغة النهائية، تبيّن أن لبنان والعرب تفاوضوا مع إسرائيل، أو من مثّلها، تحت غطاء أكاديمي. تطبيع في إطار أكاديمي مرح. تبيّن أن الطلاب اللبنانيين قبلوا أن تتولى محكمة دولية تنظيم سرقة إسرائيل المياه اللبنانية. إضافة إلى ذلك، مثّل وجود طالبة إسرائيلية في بيروت خرقاً أمنياً، إذ أعلنت الطالبة ذلك بسعادة، وبقيت أسبوعاً تتجول بين بيت الدين ودير القمر وجعيتا، وزارت حانات الجميزة وشربت حتى الثمالة.
النتيجة صبّت في مصلحة إسرائيل في الحالتين: «التمرين» على التطبيع أولاً، والخلاصة التي لم تذكر كلمة سرقة، أو استيلاء، في حديثها عن المياه اللبنانية

This is scandalous: La Sagesse university organized a conference for students of diplomacy in the "Middle East" in collaboration with Paris 11 university in France. The purpose was to discuss "Water in the Middle East" (always a good entry point for normalization with the usurping entity). One of the participants was Israeli and proudly declaimed it. She then spent the next week visiting the 4 corners of Lebanon and dining and wining in Gemmayzeh, according to the writer. Two things to retain from this: one is that there is a surge in the attempts to push for normalization through NGO and academic and cultural platforms, and two: they say there is a boycott law and an anti normalization law in Lebanon. Has anyone seen it recently?

Friday, May 14, 2010

قوم فوت نام Go to sleep

استفاقت أخيراً مكاتب مقاطعة إسرائيل التابعة لجامعة الدول العربية من غيبوبتها. تثاءبت قليلاً، فتحت أعيناً أعمتها سنوات من النوم العميق، فبهرتها حدة الشمس العربية الساطعة. غسلت وجهها، سرّحت شعرها، ولمّعته بلمسة ناعمة من «البيريانتين». ارتدت ثيابها الرسمية، تعطّرت بأغلى العطور الفرنسية، ثم اعتلت المنصة. انطلقت حفلة زجلية من المزايدات، تخللتها مباراة في إلقاء العتابا الوطنية. اختتم البرنامج بامتحان فردي في إلقاء البيان الصحافي المطنطن، ثم بتناول غذاء سخي عادت من بعده إلى سريرها الدافئ لتتجهز للقائها المقبل في العقد المقبل إن شاء الله. كانت تلك مناسبة فريدة جمعت المصابين بـ«السكيزوفرينيا» من المحيط إلى الخليج: فها هو مندوب المغرب، الدولة التي تمارس تطبيعاً علنياً مع إسرائيل ليتجاوز حجم تبادلهما التجاري 37 مليون دولار سنوياً، يجلس بين المقاطعين ويتحدث عن فلسطين. وها هم مندوبو دول الخليج، ومنها من أغلق مكتب المقاطعة تجاوباً مع تعليمات السيد الأميركي، يصفقون عند سماعهم الميجانا الوطنية.
في سياق متصل، ها هي الأردن، التي تتبادل تجارياً مع إسرائيل على إيقاع 500 مليون دولار سنوياً، توقّع اتفاقيات المقاطعة العربية. وها هي أم الدنيا، التي حكمت بالأمس على حفنة من المقاومين بالسجن المؤبّد، والتي تهب غازها إلى إسرائيل وتحاصر أبناء غزة، تتذكّر فجأة تاريخها العروبي، ويذيّل توقيعها اتفاقية مقاطعة العدو. ما الذي دفع الوفود المهندمة والمعطّرة للخروج من الكوما وإطلاق تصريحات رنانة؟ ما الذي أيقظ المارد العربي من غيبوبته؟ هل يمكن أن يكون صدى التحركات الاجتماعية في مواجهة التطبيع قد اخترق آذانه الصماء؟ عد لنومك يا حبيبي... من الآن فصاعداً، سنتولى الأمر بأيدينا

(A quick translation)

The Israeli boycott offices of the Arab League have finally woken up from their black-out. They yawned; opened eyes blinded by years of deep sleep and were dazzled by the shining Arab sun. They washed their faces, combed their hair and applied a light touch of brilliantine. They put on their official clothes, and perfumed themselves with the most expensive French fragrances. They took their seats on the podium. The one-upmanship zajal contest started, followed with a competition in nationalist `ataba. The program ended with a one-on-one test in declaiming resounding press statements. Then came the time for a generous lunch, after which they all went back to the warmth of their beds in preparation for the next meeting, in the next decade hopefully. 

This unique occasion brought together the schizophrenics of the Arab World. Here’s the Moroccan delegate, whose country normalizes openly with Israel to the tune of 37 millions USD in annual trade, sitting among the boycotters and talking about Palestine. And here are the representatives of the Gulf countries, some of which have closed their boycott office following the instructions of the US master, clapping and cheering the nationalistic mijana.

Jordan, which trades annually $500 millions with Israel, was not present, but it is expected to countersign the Arab boycott agreements. And Egypt, the mother of the world (Umm al Dunia) and which sentenced yesterday a handful of resistants to life imprisonment, and which offers its gas to Israel and besieges the people of Gaza will suddenly remember its Arab nationalist past and countersign the boycott agreements too.

But what was it that has woken the dressed-up and perfumed delegations from of their coma and made them declaim resounding nationalistic statements? What is it that has stirred the Arab Giant from his torpor? Could the voices of the civil movements opposing normalization have penetrated his deaf ears? Go back to sleep habibi…the matter is in our hands now...

Note: zajal, mijana and `ataba are forms of popular Arab poetry spoken in colloquial Arabic. 

Badael-Alternatives بدائل

بدائل Badael in Al Akhbar today. My editorial "Go back to sleep" on the latest meeting of the Arab League boycott offices. Maya Yaghi wrote about the women of Qusaybah and the bitter orange blossom water they manufacture.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Zionist bravery

Sanguinary Palestinian woman ganging up on peace-loving young Zionists in Jerusalem yesterday

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

My language, my nation لغتي- موطني

""Even literature translated into Arabic is unreadable. And now you have these PalFest writers, like Suad Amiry and Raja Shehadah, who were both raised in Palestine, but write in English. If this is not ironic, I don't know what irony is."

Culture of imperialism

But this problem is not unique to PalFest or Israel's Palestinian minority.

From Beirut to Amman, much of today's cultural activities are conducted not in Arabic but in English, thus restricting the audience to either middle class English-speaking Arabs or Western ex-pats.

"The dominance of the English language is a sign of the NGO era here in occupied Palestine," Darwish said.

"In some Arab societies the high and abnormal usage of English is a sign of class orientation. Simply, it's the old lesson of culture and imperialism.""

While this may be somehow overstated as Angry Arab puts it here, the overuse and abuse of English is definitely a sign of class orientation and is pervasive in many Arab capitals (not in Sana'a though). And it is also true that a lot of NGO-styled activism and art in bourgeois Beirut takes place in English (both in language and in method).One reason is that there are many expats who are part of these groups. Some members are also second generation Lebanese who have come home for a while to reconnect. Others are simply Lebanese products of the private schooling system and who are more at ease with English. But this is not how it is in Dahieh and in Tariq al jadideh or in the other periferies. In other words, there are those who struggle in English and those who struggle with English.  Also, art in the region previously known as Shar'iyyeh, French is the language of the arts and of bourgeois rebellions. 

That is one of the principal reasons why I started positing in Arabic on this blog and why I write in Al Akhbar and why my last 2 books were written in both Arabic and English (in the same book). How do you want to change your world if you can't even speak its language? 

Depoliticizing the camps: workshop after workshop, we will liberate Palestine

و السياسة depoliticizing the camps والمجتمع الدولي مهموم بحل «عقدة» اللاجئين وتفريغ المخيم من مضامينه السياسية  والسياسة هي سبب كل مشاكلنا، إذا تخلصنا منها تخلصنا من المشاكل. يا ليتنا فكرنا في ذلك قبل عقود، وطلبنا تمويلاً من الغرب لدعمنا في تحقيق ذلك و «وبدل ما عملنا ثورة في العام 1969، كنا عملنا ورشة عمل (ورك شوب)، وحليناها بطرق أخرى تخرج السياسة من الدم الفلسطيني». فالمقاومة إرهاب وممنوعة. والفلسطيني الممنوع من العمل في لبنان ليس له أمامه إلا الأونروا التي تشترط على موظفيها عدم الانخراط في تنظيمات سياسية وعدم التظاهر. إن شاء الله يتم تفريغ المخيم من السياسة قبل الانتهاء من إعماره. (ونستلم بذلك مخيما نظيفا خفيفا ومهضوما).  

  السفير--اسماعيل الشيخ حسن

Monday, May 10, 2010

جلدي عباءة كلّ فلاح سيأتي من حقول التبغ كي يلغي العواصم

ليدين من حجر و زعتر
هذا النشيد .. لأحمد المنسيّ بين فراشتين
مضت الغيوم و شرّدتني
و رمت معاطفها الجبال و خبّأتني
.. نازلا من نحلة الجرح القديم إلى تفاصيل
البلاد و كانت السنة انفصال البحر عن مدن
الرماد و كنت وحدي
... ثم وحدي
آه يا وحدي ؟ و أحمد
كان اغتراب البحر بين رصاصتين
مخيّما ينمو ، و ينجب زعنرا و مقاتلين
و ساعدا يشتدّ في النيسان
ذاكرة تجيء من القطارات التي تمضي
و أرصفة بلا مستقبلين و ياسمين
كان اكتشاف الذات في العربات
أو في المشهد البحري
في ليل الزنازين الشقيقة
قي العلاقات السريعة
و السؤال عن الحقيقة
في كل شيء كان أحمد يلتقي بنقيضه
عشرين عاما كان يسأل
عشرين عاما كان يرحل
عشرين عاما لم تلده أمّه إلّا دقائق في
إناء الموز
. و انسحبت
، يريد هويّة فيصاب بالبركان
سافرت الغيوم و شرّدتني
ورمت معاطفها الجبال و خبّأتني
أنا أحمد العربيّ - قال
أنا الرصاص البرتقال الذكريات
و جدت نفسي قرب نفسي
فابتعدت عن الندى و المشهد البحريّ
تل الزعتر الخيمة
و أنا البلاد و قد أتت
و تقمّصتني
و أنا الذهاب المستمرّ إلى البلاد
... و جدت نفسي ملء نفسي
راح أحمد يلتقي بضلوعه و يديه
كان الخطوة - النجمه
و من المحيط إلى الخليج ، من الخليج إلى المحيط
كانوا يعدّون الرماح
و أحمد العربيّ يصعد كي يرى حيفا
. و يقفز
أحمد الآن الرهينه
تركت شوارعها المدينة
و أتت إليه
و من الخليج إلى المحيط ، و من المحيط إلى الخليج
كانوا يعدّون الجنازة
وانتخاب المقصلة
أنا أحمد العربيّ - فليأت الحصار
جسدي هو الأسوار - فليأت الحصار
و أنا حدود النار - فليأت الحصار
و أنا أحاصركم
و صدري باب كلّ الناس - فليأت الحصار
لم تأت أغنيتي لترسم أحمد الكحليّ في الخندق
الذكريات وراء ظهري ، و هو يوم الشمس و الزنبق
يا أيّها الولد الموزّع بين نافذتين
لا تتبادلان رسائلي
إنّ التشابه للرمال ... و أنت للأزرق
و أعدّ أضلاعي فيهرب من يدي بردى
و تتركني ضفاف النيل مبتعدا
و أبحث عن حدود أصابعي
... فأرى العواصم كلها زبدا
و أحمد يفرك الساعات في الخندق
لم تأت أغنيتي لترسم أحمد المحروق بالأزرق
هو أحمد الكونيّ في هذا الصفيح الضيّق
المتمزّق الحالم
و هو الرصاص البرتقاليّ .. البنفسجه الرصاصيّة
و هو اندلاع ظهيرة حاسم
في يوم حريّه
يا أيّها الولد المكرّس للندى
َ! قاوم
يا أيّها البلد - المسدس في دمي
! قاوم
الآن أكمل فيك أغنيتي
و أذهب في حصارك
و الآن أكمل فيك أسئلتي
و أولد من غبارك
فاذهب إلى قلبي تجد شعبي
شعوبا في انفجارك
... سائرا بين التفاصيل اتكأت على مياه
أكلّما نهدت سفرجله نسيت حدود قلبي
و التجأت إلى حصار كي أحدد قامتي
يا أحمد العربيّ ؟
لم يكذب عليّ الحب . لكن كلّما جاء المساء
امتصّني جرس بعيد
و التجأت إلى نزيفي كي أحدّد صورتي
. يا أحمد العربيّ
لم أغسل دمي من خبز أعدائي
و لكن كلّما مرّت خطاي على طريق
فرّت الطرق البعيدة و القريبة
كلّما آخيت عاصمة رمتني بالحقيبة
فالتجأت إلى رصيف الحلم و الأشعار
كم أمشي إلى حلمي فتسبقني الخناجر
! آه من حلمي و من روما
جميل أنت في المنفى
قتيل أنت في روما
و حيفا من هنا بدأت
و أحمد سلم الكرمل
و بسملة الندى و الزعتر البلدي و المنزل
لا تسرقوه من السنونو
لا تأخذوه من الندى
كتبت مراثيها العيون
و تركت قلبي للصدى
لا تسرقوه من الأبد
و تبعثروه على الصليب
فهو الخريطة و الجسد
و هو اشتعال العندليب
لا تأخذوه من الحمام
لا ترسلوه إلى الوظيفه
لا ترسموا دمه و سام
فهو البنفسج في قذيفه
صاعدا نحو التئام الحلم
تتّخذ التفاصيل الرديئة شكل كمّثرى
و تنفصل البلاد عن المكاتب
و الخيول عن الحقائب
للحصى عرق أقبّل صمت هذا الملح
أعطى خطبة الليمون لليمون
أوقد شمعتي من جرحي المفتوح للأزهار
و السمك المجفّف
للحصى عرق و مرآه
و للحطاب قلب يمامه
أنساك أحيانا لينساني رجال الأمن
يا امرأتي الجميلة تقطعين القلب و البصل
الطري و تذهبين إلى البنفسج
فاذكريني قبل أن أنسى يدي
... و صاعدا نحو التئام الحلم
... تنكمش المقاعد تحت أشجاري و ظلّك
يختفي المتسلّقون على جراحك كالذباب الموسميّ
و يختفي المتفرجون على جراحك
! فاذكريني قبل أن أنسى يديّ
و للفراشات اجتهادي
و الصخور رسائلي في الأرض
لا طروادة بيتي
و لا مسّادة وقتي
و أصعد من جفاف الخبز و الماء المصادر
من حصان ضاع في درب المطار
و من هواء البحر أصعد
من شظايا أدمنت جسدي
و أصعد من عيون القادمين إلى غروب السهل
أصعد من صناديق الخضار
و قوّة الأشياء أصعد
أنتمي لسمائي الأولى و للفقراء في كل الأزقّة
: ينشدون
و صامدون
و صامدون
كان المخيّم جسم أحمد
كانت دمشق جفون أحمد
كان الحجاز ظلال أحمد
صار الحصار مرور أحمد فوق أفئدة الملايين
صار الحصار هجوم أحمد
! و البحر طلقته الأخيرة
يا خضر كل الريح
! يا أسبوع سكّر
يا اسم العيون و يا رخاميّ الصدى
يا أحمد المولود من حجر و زعتر
ستقول : لا
ستقول : لا
جلدي عباءة كلّ فلاح سيأتي من حقول التبغ
كي يلغي العواصم
و تقول : لا
جسدي بيان القادمين من الصناعات الخفيفة
و التردد .. و الملاحم
نحو اقتحام المرحلة
و تقول : لا
و يدي تحيات الزهوز و قنبلة
مرفوعة كالواجب اليومي ضدّ المرحلة
و تقول : لا
يا أيّها الجسد المضرّج بالسفوح
و بالشموس المقبلة
و تقول : لا
يا أيّها الجسد الذي يتزوّج الأمواج
فوق المقصلة
و تقول : لا
و تقول : لا
و تقول : لا
و تموت قرب دمي و تحيا في الطحين
ونزور صمتك حين تطلبنا يداك
و حين تشعلنا اليراعة
مشت الخيول على العصافير الصغيرة
فابتكرنا الياسمين
ليغيب وجه الموت عن كلماتنا
فاذهب بعيدا في الغمام و في الزراعة
... لا وقت للمنفى و أغنيتي
سيجرفنا زحام الموت فاذهب في الرخام
لنصاب بالوطن البسيط و باحتمال الياسمين
واذهب إلى دمك المهيّأ لانتشارك
و اذهب إلى دمي الموحّد في حصارك
... لا وقت للمنفى
و للصور الجميلة فوق جدران الشوارع و الجنائز
و التمني
كتبت مراثيها الطيور و شرّدتني
ورمت معاطفها الحقول و جمعتني
فاذهب بعيدا في دمي ! و اذهب بعيدا في الطحين
لنصاب بالوطن البسيط و باحتمال الياسمين
يا أحمد اليوميّ ‍
يا اسم الباحثين عن الندى و بساطة الأسماء
يا اسم البرتقاله
! يا أحمد العاديّ ‍
كيف محوت هذا الفارق اللفظيّ بين الصخر و التفاح
! بين البندقيّة و الغزاله
... لا وقت للمنفى و أغنيتي
سنذهب في الحصار
حتى نهايات العواصم
فاذهب عميقا في دمي
اذهب براعم
و اذهب عميقا في دمي
اذهب خواتم
و اذهب عميقا في دمي
اذهب سلالم
! يا أحمد العربيّ... قاوم
... لا وقت للمنفى و أغنيتي
سنذهب في الحصار
حتى رصيف الخبز و الأمواج
تلك مساحتي و مساحة الوطن - الملازم
موت أمام الحلم
أو حلم يموت على الشعار
فاذهب عميقا في دمي و اذهب عميقا في الطحين
لنصاب بالوطن البسيط و باحتمال الياسمين
... و له انحناءات الخريف
له وصايا البرتقال
له القصائد في النزيف
له تجاعيد الجبال
له الهتاف
له الزفاف
له المجلّات الملوّنه
المراثي المطمئنة
ملصقات الحائط
فرقة الإنشاد
مرسوم الحداد
و كل شيء كل شيء كل شيء
حين يعلن وجهه للذاهبين إلى ملامح مجهه
! يا أحمد المجهول
كيف سكنتنا عشرين عاما و اختفيت
و ظلّ وجهك غامضا مثل الظهيرة
يا أحمد السريّ مثل النار و الغابات
أشهر وجهك الشعبيّ فينا
واقرأ وصيّتك الأخيرة ؟
يا أيّها المتفرّجون ! تناثروا في الصمت
و ابتعدوا قليلا عنه كي تجدوه فيكم
حنطة ويدين عاريتين
وابتعدوا قليلا عنه كي يتلو وصيّته
على الموتى إذا ماتوا
و كي يرمي ملامحه
! على الأحياء ان عاشوا
! أخي أحمد
و أنت العبد و المعبود و المعبد
متى تشهد
متى تشهد
متى تشهد ؟
قصيدة انا احمد العربى للشاعر محمود درويش

Everyday food in Israel is like everyday Israel: looting and usurpation

"Shakshuka, a messy tomato-and-egg stew Solomonov spikes with the spicy Tunisian chile paste harissa, is probably Israel’s most popular egg dish. For the most authentic version, he took his team to Jaffa’s beloved Doktor Shakshuka, where owner Bino Gabso mans the stove. “Hummus day” meant a trip to Ali Karavan in Jaffa. Solomonov has spent months perfecting his hummus for Zahav and considers Ali Karavan’s traditional version—a mix of chickpeas, olive oil, lemon juice and tahini (sesame paste)—the best in Israel. “Americans have this misconception that hummus is strongly lemony and garlicky,” Solomonov says. “Or worse, that it comes in lots of flavors. Israelis don’t do flavors. If you want to get a little crazy, you order masabacha,” he says, referring to a fancier version served warm, with whole chickpeas and a blend of tahini and lemon juice added to the center." (Thanks Marcy)

Palestine? stolen
Shakshuka? stolen
Hummus? stolen
Tahini? stolen
Musabbaha? stolen and massacred as "masabacha"

As if we needed more evidence of Zionist usurpation of land and culture. Israel: what a classic colonial entity! But look at the comments to the article...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The 600 million army

"Finally, there is the state of the world’s 1.1 billion agricultural workers: more than half of them own neither land nor machinery and live in a state of semi-slavery. The conditions of this new global underclass are at last a matter of concern: worldwide food production is set on a downturn as their wretchedness weakens their capacity to produce and earn, driving more people inexorably towards the cities. The head count of these land armies – 600 million at a guess – sounds impressive but it doesn’t change the fact that the overall number of people working in agriculture is falling. ‘In both developed and developing countries,’ the Chatham House report states, ‘the pressure on the agricultural workforce is increasing.’"

Excellent article by Jeremy Harding on the seven fundamental problems in food and farming today. (Thanks Abi)

Rejoice o Arabs, Nestle is growing on you

"Nestle is expecting over 10 per cent growth in 2010 in the Middle East, and is building four new factories in the region, one of which is in Dubai, said Yves Manghardt, Chairman and CEO of Nestle Middle East. His confident view of business prospects in the Middle East for this year was in contrast to what happened in 2009 which was "a tough year with low growth".


Nestle is the world's largest food company, with $101.4 billion in sales in 2009. It employs more than 280,000 employees, and has 499 factories in 83 countries. It has over 10,000 products, and sells over one billion products every day. All of this makes Nestle more than double the size of Pepsi, its nearest rival in the processed food sector."

Just as a reminder:

"Osem Investments Ltd. (TASE: OSEM) (Hebrew: אסם‎) is one of the largest food manufacturers and distributors in Israel.[1] The group is majority owned (51%) by Nestlé S.A. of Switzerland.

The Group operates 10 different Production facilities in Israel and distributes its produce through its distribution centers. In 2007, the Group completed the construction of a Nationwide Distribution and Logistics center. In Addition, the Group exports its produce to Europe and the United States through its overseas subsidiaries, Osem U.K. Ltd. and Osem USA Inc.

Neoliberal Syria: more unemployment, more injustice ارتفاع الفقر والبطالة في سورية

This article in Al Hayat summarizes a report by the Syrian Professional Union of Public Labor Unions that uses state economic data to show an increase in poverty, unemployment and an increase in the gap between rich and poor since the implementation of market-oriented reforms and the liberalization of the economy. Of interest here is the decline in the GDP contribution of agriculture from 23% in 2005 to 17% in 2008, in a country where 62% of the poor are rural.

ارتفاع الفقر والبطالة في سورية
الأحد, 09 مايو 2010
دمشق - نورالدين الأعثر
أفاد تقرير صادر عن «الاتحاد المهني لنقابات عمال الخدمات العامة» في سورية بأن مؤشرات الأداء الاقتصادي بحسب تقارير دولية تدل على زيادة عدد الفقراء والعاطلين من العمل وزيادة حدة التفاوت الاجتماعي وغياب العدالة في توزيع الدخل وتفاقم المشاكل المعيشية للسكان وانخفاض القدرة الشرائية واتساع الهوة بين الأجور والأسعار.
وكان تقرير صادر عن اتحاد نقابات العمال أكد في وقت سابق على أن متوسط رواتب العاملين لدى القطاع العام بلغ في العام الماضي تسعة آلاف ليرة سورية (نحو 196 دولار) ولدى القطاع الخاص 7500 ليرة. وئؤكد دراسات «المكتب المركزي للإحصاء» أن حاجة الأسرة السورية المؤلفة من خمسة أشخاص «لحياة كريمة» هي 25 ألف ليرة شهرياً.
ويرى خبراء اقتصاديون ان تراجع دور الدولة في السنوات الأخيرة أدى إلى «تحول فئات واسعة من الطبقة الوسطى نحو الفئات الفقيرة وأن وضع الفئات الفقيرة بات أصعب بعدما تبنت الخطة الخمسية العاشرة التي بدأ تطبيقها عام 2006» مفهوماً صريحاً وواضحاً لاقتصاد السوق الاجتماعي بنسخته الليبيرالية».
وأكد تقرير رُفع أخيراً إلى «اتحاد نقابات العمال» ونُشر في دمشق على غياب الجانب الاجتماعي في عملية التحول إلى اقتصاد السوق الاجتماعي». ورأى التقرير أن تراجع مساهمة الزراعة من 23 في المئة عام 2005 إلى 17 في المئة عام 2008 في الناتج المحلي الإجمالي يعود ليس فقط إلى العامل المناخي وإنما إلى رفع أسعار المازوت وتحرير أسعار السماد وتحكم الوسطاء بأسعار المنتجات غير الإستراتيجية وتخلف المناطق الزراعية.
ولفت إلى أن عجز الموازنة العامة للدولة يزداد سنة بعد سنة بعد أن ارتفع من 84 بليون ليرة عام 2007 إلى 192 بليوناً عام 2008 ليصل إلى 226 بليوناً العام الماضي والى 250 بليوناً هذه السنة بحسب توقعات وزارة المال.
وأوضح التقرير أن نسب النمو المعلنة والتي فاقت ستة في المئة عام 2008 لم يشعر بها أصحاب الأجور «كونها ناجمة عن اقتصاد ريعي يتمثل بالخدمات المالية والعقارية في شكل خاص». وأشار التقرير إلى أن سورية احتلت المرتبة 14 عربياً في معدل إجمالي الناتج المحلي بعدما انخفض المعدل من 6.3 في المئة عام 2007 إلى 5.15 في المئة عام 2008. وأكد أن التهرب الضريبي لا يزال مرتفعاً ولا يتوافر رقم دقيق عنه.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Neoliberal Politics of Conscious Consumption

"“Fair trade” as a consumer movement or development tool thus differs from a political-economic understanding of what constitutes fair trade. Fair trade organizations and advocates have a specifically articulated understanding of how economic justice can be approached in their work, but their discourse does not produce ways of thinking about this issue, or other issues in producers’ communities, at a structural level."

Friday, May 7, 2010

Mr. Gindy knew what he wanted to be, but did not exactly know who he was

"Who am I?
What does it mean to be human?
These are the kinds of questions posed to undergraduate students entering this 90-year-old university during what the president, David D. Arnold, called a first year of “disorientation.” During disorientation, the students — 85 percent of them Egyptians — are taught to learn in ways quite at odds with the traditional method of teaching in this country, where instructors lecture, students memorize and tests are exercises in regurgitation.
American University is a private, elite school, although university officials sometimes recoil at the elite label. Yet, the school is expensive and so is generally out of reach for all but the wealthiest families and a handful of scholarship students. Tuition and fees for Egyptian students run about $19,600 a year, a princely sum in a country where about half the population lives on about $2 a day.
The campus exudes affluence. Students joke about the “Gucci corridor,” a spot where well-coiffed students gather each afternoon. There is no cafeteria, only expensive fast-food stands.
“We are all rich and spoiled,” said one student, upset that more of her classmates were not more politically aware. But in some respects, the elite label is a strength. American University plays a central role as a sort of intellectual boot camp for young people who will become leaders in government and the economy." (Thanks Marcy)
These are excerpts from NYT article about the American University in Cairo (but which applies to many other American-styled universities in the Arab region. For total disclosure, I work in one of these institutions but what I write represents only me). It raises many important and relevant issues that have to do with the production and consumption of knowledge and education in the Arab World. 

1. The statement in the article "Mr. Gindy knew what he wanted to be, but did not exactly know who he was" and the questions: "Who am I? What does it mean to be human?" indicate clearly the conviction (of the author?) that young people who enter the university have an identity crisis and are not reflective and introspective prior to having been exposed to the US liberal education system. However, these questions are the mainstay of teen-age existential angst as well as of philosophical thought, in the West as in the East and they are answered in many different ways depending on the culture and education and the exposure of the person who poses the questions. Religion provides answers to these questions, and that is why many people turn to religion. People did not have to wait for the US liberal education system to start asking themselves these questions. Is the real issue that people do not ask themselves these questions or the possibility that they may come up with answers that are not framed by liberal thought? 

2. This is really a further elaboration on point 1. The caption under the picture in the article says "the university aspires to teach people to think for themselves". What exactly is meant here? Think for themselves or think differently from their "home way"-but in unison- and along the lines of specific paradigms? In many US-Western-styled liberal education colleges, schools of business promote a very distinctive, capitalist, entrepreneurship-oriented approach. In departments of economics, most of the texts focus on neo-classical thought. Design schools use a global charabia cliched from European postmodernist thought. Cross-fertilization of cultural thought is what we should aim at but are the students encouraged to cross-fertilize or to replace? And if the question is that they are encouraged to cross-fertilize, is it with global cultural thought or exclusively with US/Western liberal thought? 

3. No doubt some excellent people have graduated from the US/Western educational system. But so did the political and economic leadership of the empire and the comprador. This is a leadership that wages wars and invades the world and establishes and enforces economic systems that are inherently unjust and exploitative, lead to widespread poverty and inequality, and result in the death of millions and then calls it collateral damage. Going through the US/Western liberal education system is certainly no assurance that humane, social leadership will be produced. 

4. There is no doubt that the current Egyptian and Arab educational system is in dire need of reform. There is no doubt that it is based on rote learning and on direct control of the thinking and reflection process. But so is the system that produces "Gucci corridors" and corporate fast food outlets in universities where they become the cultural norm and signs of social distinction. Different means of control are used, including media and anxiety about self image, but the outcome is the same. What is needed in replacement of the native discriminatory and oppressive systems is a new educational system that will grow organically from the local people and their culture and their experience as well as from cross-fertilization with global culture rather than imported turnkey ideologies. As long as we do not work on that, we will just remain complainers and whingers.

Child labor in US agriculture

“[When I was 12] they gave me my first knife,” said a 17-year-old who had started working on a farm in Michigan when he was 11.“Week after week I was cutting myself. Every week I had a new scar. My hands have a lot of stories.”
Hundreds of thousands of children work in agriculture in the United States. Under US law, children can toil in the fields at far younger ages, for far longer hours, and under far more hazardous conditions than other working youth.
Children as young as 11 or 12, and sometimes younger, work for 10 or more hours a day, five to seven days a week. They typically earn less than minimum wage. They work with heavy machinery, sharp tools, and dangerous chemicals and are four-times more likely to die than children working in other jobs.
Due to the long hours and demands of farmwork, it’s not surprising that one-third of child farmworkers drop out of school. This leaves them with few options other than  a lifetime of farmwork and the poverty that accompanies it.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A systemic revolution

"Poverty -- caused by the low income productivity of farmers' labor -- is the primary source of hunger in Africa, and the problem is only getting worse. The number of "food insecure" people in Africa (those consuming less than 2,100 calories a day) will increase 30 percent over the next decade without significant reforms, to 645 million, the U.S. Agriculture Department projects.

What's so tragic about this is that we know from experience how to fix the problem. Wherever the rural poor have gained access to improved roads, modern seeds, less expensive fertilizer, electrical power, and better schools and clinics, their productivity and their income have increased. But recent efforts to deliver such essentials have been undercut by deeply misguided (if sometimes well-meaning) advocacy against agricultural modernization and foreign aid.
The alternative is right in front of us. Foreign assistance to support agricultural improvements has a strong record of success, when undertaken with purpose. In the 1960s, international assistance from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and donor governments led by the United States made Asia's original Green Revolution possible. U.S. assistance to India provided critical help in improving agricultural education, launching a successful agricultural extension service, and funding advanced degrees for Indian agricultural specialists at universities in the United States. The U.S. Agency for International Development, with the World Bank, helped finance fertilizer plants and infrastructure projects, including rural roads and irrigation. India could not have done this on its own -- the country was on the brink of famine at the time and dangerously dependent on food aid. But instead of suffering a famine in 1975, as some naysayers had predicted, India that year celebrated a final and permanent end to its need for food aid."

Anna sent me the link to this article which appeared in Foreign Policy and is therefore unsurprisingly towing the neoliberal industrialist line. There are of course some correct facts in the articles, and I tend to agree that romantic food consumption does really contribute to solving the problems of malnutrition and hunger in the world. But this is a classic ploy: some selectively quoted figures, while others (like the thousands of Indian farmers having committed suicide as a result of the loss of their land and their indebtedness, or the failure of Monsanto's Roundup technology I blogged about yesterday) are hidden in order to lure the readers into what looks like a no-brainer: of course what we need is a new green revolution, waged by transnational corporations associated with foreign aid (don't you love it when capital and empire get together?) to grab what remains of the world, destroy what is left of the planet, and open windows for more speculation and more money, money, money and deliciously fat bonuses for CEOs.

We now know that the Green Bullet of foreign aid and selective industrialization will make things much worse in Africa as elsewhere, by favoring capitalist, resource destructive, export oriented, large scale, farming. It is also a transparent Trojan horse for multinationals looking sell technology and purchase (cheaply)  the produce, thereby creating a double whammy of economic control, complemented by social and physical control provided by private security firms and corrupt state officials who benefit from investments. And I am not even going to start to talk about the dependency on foreign aid, its political leverage and the good use it has been put to in various developing nations over the past half century. 

Yes the number of poor and hungry people will increase by 30% in the next decade. But that is not some natural event that is happening to the world: this is the result of decades of control of the local economy by capitalist profiteers and their political acolytes in the empire. The answer to the food problems in the world do not lie in the capitalist industrialization of food, but in the self-empowerment and emancipation of the peasantry and in the challenge to the global food and economic regimes. A modern revolution, yes, but this will be modernity as we see it. A technological, scientific revolution, certainly, but this will be our science, our technology, not one that benefits large imperial industries and their surrogate political and academic centers. This is why the issue of food cannot be resolved in isolation. Only a systemic challenge of the dominant economic and political, cultural and social order can deliver freedom, sovereignty and pride.

Land grab in the correct perspective

Here's the best article I have read so far on global land grab, not least because it focuses on the process of grabbing and associated capital investments and industrialization of large scale farming rather than on the nationality of the "grabbers". Franco and Borras deconstruct the code of conduct for large scale international investments in agriculture recommended by international organizations such as the World Bank and IFPRI, and analyze it on the basis of its contribution to social justice. They look at land grabbing as part of the latest market and profit-driven move towards the intensification of transnational investments in agriculture by large capital originating from states or corporations. Unlike most other mediatized and shallow analyses of land grab, this paper does not mention the word "Arab" once.“code-conduct”-land-grabbing

From Threat to Opportunity? Problems with a “Code of Conduct” for Land-Grabbing

April 2010

The dominant perception of land-grabbing as a threat is being replaced by a new story line, promoted by, amongst other, the World Bank—that of new land deals as a potential opportunity for rural development. But this supposed win-win formula raises many problems, doubts and concerns.

After the kids, the goats: Israel's list of prisoners expands

"Israeli moves to arrest Lebanese shepherds have now taken a new turn after army units crossed the Israeli pullout line in the south and "kidnapped" 185 goats in the area of al-Shahel on the outskirts of the town of Shebaa.

A Lebanese army communiqué said Wednesday the Israeli soldiers took the goats to the occupied Palestinian territories.

However, after contacts between the army command and U.N. peacekeepers stationed in the south, Israel returned the goats to Lebanon." (Thanks Matthew)

On her 20th birthday في عيد الميلاد العشرين

I have translated this poem (and song) written by Egyptian
poet Ahmad Fuad Nagem and sang by Sheikh Imam. This goes back to the

On her 20th birthday
A young woman from Palestine
Stood contemplating her present
In a land covered with dirt

Behind the barbed wires
She has lived days and years
Between the darkness of the past
A buried longing
And a present
Slowly moving
Where is the future
When the people is hounded and jailed

Should my unfortunate young woman
Return to liberate Palestine?
Or should she cry and moan
As in the past?

I defy you o future
I will come back strong and aware
And wipe the tear off my mother's cheek
And place a knife in her hand
And give my uncle his life back
And a cannon for his shoulder
Offer him the shining hope
My hope is to come back one day
To my beloved land
To the fragrant roses
Power terrifies me no more
My arms have become strong

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Roundup down

"Just as the heavy use of antibiotics contributed to the rise of drug-resistant supergerms, American farmers’ near-ubiquitous use of the weedkiller Roundup has led to the rapid growth of tenacious new superweeds." (Thanks Yaz)

Walla it happened more quickly than I thought. What's Monsanto going to do now?

North Korea and Israel have a lot in common

"Neither is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and both employ their nuclear weapons in elaborate games of peek-a-boo with the international community. Israel and North Korea are equally paranoid about outsiders conspiring to destroy their states, and this paranoia isn't without some justification. Partly as a result of these suspicions, both countries engage in reckless and destabilizing foreign policies. In recent years, Israel has launched preemptive strikes and invaded other countries, while North Korea has abducted foreign citizens and blown up South Korean targets (including, possibly, a South Korean ship in late March in the Yellow Sea).

And they're both exceptions in their regions: Israel is a Jewish state in an Arab region; North Korea is an old-style feudal dictatorship in an Asian region marked by relative prosperity and political openness. But the two countries often behave as if they are exceptions to all other rules as well. For instance, they both share an antipathy toward human rights organizations that attempt to hold them to international standards. Witness the recent attacks by Israel (and its hard-right supporters) of Human Rights Watch because of reports critical of Israel's human rights record. North Korea also routinely rejects human rights inquiries as a challenge to its sovereignty. (For a proposal on a better strategy to engage North Korea on human rights issues, check out my latest article Starting Where North Korea Is.)

Despite these similarities, these two roguish powers haven't had a great deal of interaction. Between 1992 and 1994, Israel secretly negotiated a billion dollar buy-out of North Korea's missile export program to the Middle East, and the United States intervened to nix the deal (only to explore a similar option with North Korea at the end of the Clinton administration). In 2007, Israel bombed a suspected nuclear facility in Syria that may or may not have been built with North Korean assistance. Otherwise, the two countries maintain their innocence and distance.

And yet one country is an official rogue and the other country only plays one on Arab TV. The difference in designation owes much to U.S. policy. One of the perks of world domination is the chance to make like Adam in Genesis and name all the animals. North Korea, according to Washington, is beyond the pale. Israel, however, is "one of us": firmly ensconced in the Judeo-Christian tradition, accorded honorary European status, and even considered worthy of membership in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)."

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Meanwhile in Jordan...

So the Friends of the Earth Middle East organised a conference in Amman yesterday. Here's what it found on the front page of the Jordan Times:

"Released at the “Bringing the Jordan River Back to Life: Strategies for Rehabilitation Conference”, the report indicated that Israel diverts the highest amount from the river, totaling 46.47 per cent, followed by Syria at 25.24 per cent, Jordan at 23.24 per cent and Palestine at 5.05 per cent."

And here's what I also found in the Jordan Times, on the front page:

"The Professional Associations' Anti-Normalisation Committee on Monday criticised the Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) for inviting Israeli officials to take part in a conference in Amman on the Jordan River.
Badi Rafaya, the committee's president, said the "Bringing the Jordan River Back to Life: Strategies for Rehabilitation Conference”, which opened yesterday... serves as "a cover" for boosting ties between Jordan and Israel."

These constant attempts by international organisations to force normalization down Arab throats are having an opposite effect on those who have an ounce of self respect: people see right through the colonial "mission civilisatrice" aiming at subduing the natives and are rapidly rejecting them, except for a handful of kollaborators who ingratiate themselves to the White Man and the colonials and benefit with jobs, consultancies and other flatteries. I'm just out of one of these meetings, in which I was told by some of the Arab organizers that the UN organization in charge of the meeting, which was about land, had tried as much as it could to bring Israel in a meeting of the Middle East and North Africa in which Iran was the only non-Arab country (I believe brought in on purpose in order to avoid calling it a meeting of the Arab World). They even tried asking a Palestinian living in 1948 territories with an israeli passport to represent israel in order to be able to say that israel participated in the conference. Eventually it did not work and I wont say why to avoid embarrassing some people.

We should really start to systematically reject all appellations that are geographic (West Asia, North Africa, Middle East, Near East, Mediterranean) and insist on Arab World or Arab countries, and on Arabic as the language of meetings and conferences. Otherwise, we are just paving the way for the forcing of israel into the groups. My friend Ali came up with a nice one to respond to those international organizations who insist on including the zionist temporary usurping entity in meetings and workshops involving and aiming at Arab countries. He asks: "Where do they play football?" The answer is, of course in Europe. Ali's response is:"Let them meet as part of the group of countries they play football with.".

Meanwhile in Shanghai...

I have just learned from someone who is involved with the Palestinian delegation to the Shanghai World Expo 2010 themed Better City Better life that the Israelis have pulled a series of their usual dirty tricks. The Zionists have apparently taken a whole wing of the expo pavilion and they were promoting the temporary usurping zionist entity using photos of the Palestinian heritage: the church of the holy sepulcher, the dome of the rock, and others, many of which are in fact in the lands occupied in 1967. The Palestinian delegation complained that this was their heritage that was stolen by the usurper and exposed as a loot. Under pressure, the Chinese organizers requested the israelis to withdraw the pictures. The israelis complied after lots of fussing about. I was told that they replaced the photos they removed with photos of unbuilt space which the Palestinians took as a direct message that they will destroy the heritage they cannot usurp.

Then the zionists went to the Palestinian stand and they found that there were pictures of zionist occupation soldiers among those of the cities of the West Bank that were on display. They complained to the Chinese organizers who asked for explanation as, apparently, the photo exhibits are not supposed to show images of conflict. The Palestinians responded that it is very difficult to take any picture in any city of the West Bank without having an occupation soldier in it, and that they did not want to fool the potential visitors who had the right to know that there will be occupation forces around should they decide to visit. Eventually, they asked for a 48 hours grace period before removing them, which, I was told, was granted. However, a few hours later, the Chinese organizers ordered the closing of the Palestinian stand. Clearly, the volume of israeli-Chinese exchange is much larger than that between the West Bank and China.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Arab food security or land grab?

"Sudan, Africa's biggest country by area, has been a major recipient of farmland investment.
It is keen to attract more, Tahar Sadik Ali, deputy head of Sudan's Agricultural Research Establishment, told Reuters. "We have signed farmland leasing deals with countries including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Jordan to grow mainly wheat and maize," he said. "We expect similar deals with other countries including Egypt to invest in farmland in the eastern and southern areas.""

It would be interesting to learn more about the nature of the deals, and how they benefit Sudan, if they do. I know everyone is always ready to shout "LAND GRAB", but we have to remember that in all the plans for economic integration of the Arab countries, which is a goal we all yearn for, Sudan is given the role of the breadbasket. So to have food for the Gulf countries produced in the Sudan, financed with the oil surplus could be seen as a step towards this integration. As long as the deals are fair and benefit the peasants and the food exported come from surplus. But then again, when we talked about Arab integration, the formal implementation mechanism was never really discussed. I doubt very much this would have been in the form of support to small producers or that it involved equitable distribution of profits. Also, in the agricultural countries of the Arab world, both farmers and governments are always calling for investments from the oil-rich nation in their agriculture in order to modernize it and to get a captive market and to produce a surplus that could be of use to all. 

So there's one of these "tensions" I've been thinking about a lot these days: do we or do we not want to promote Arab agricultural integration and to foster inter Arab investments in farming? If you think of it as land grab, then we don't, but if you think of it as Arab food security, then we do. I guess it will all have to be decided in light of the nature of the relationship between the different Arab countries rather than by a preconceived image promoted by some Western NGOs.

The zionist agricultural miracle

"Over the years, the constant attacks and violence committed by the Israeli settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) have cost Palestinians their lives as well as economic losses much of which on the agricultural level, which is perceived by the Israeli governments and settlers as a prime target as it represent a tie between the people and the land that they are desperately trying to break. The Israeli settlers have always induced violent acts against Palestinians by attacking their properties, burning their fields, razing and destroying their agriculture lands, uprooting their trees, occupying their lands and properties and preventing Palestinian landowners from accessing their lands to cultivate them."

The Gaza list

"Ever wonder what Israel allows into the Gaza Strip?

A new court case is challenging the military to reveal what items are allowed into Gaza, why it has prohibited certain items and whats the over all objective.

Here is the list of basic items allowed into the Gaza Strip for 1.5 million people...

Can you live off the items on this list?"