Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Global March to Jerusalem March 30

"GMJ’s Concept and Objectives
The historic day 30th March marks Palestine Land Day* in Palestinian national memory. This year our aim is to mark it as an international event to demonstrate solidarity with Palestinians and to protect Jerusalem. This will be achieved by organizing a Global March to Jerusalem or to the nearest point to it. The march will demand freedom for Jerusalem and its people and to put an end to the Apartheid, ethnic cleansing and Judaisation policies affecting the people, land and sanctity of Jerusalem."

Occupy our food supply

Occupy Our Food Supply is bringing together the Occupy, sustainable farming, food justice, buy local, slow food, and environmental movements for a global day of action on February 27, 2012. Inspired by the theme of CREATE/RESIST, thousands will come together to creatively confront corporate control of our food supply and take action to build healthy, accessible food systems for all.

Industrial agribusiness corporations like Cargill, Monsanto, ADM and Dupont have gained runaway control of our food systems and to take them back, we'll need all the collective power we can manifest around the world. There are few things more personal than the food we put into our bodies every day. Let's ensure that we can stand by the food we eat from farm to fork.

Read more: Occupy Our Food Supply | Rainforest Action Network


Must join: the #3awda project (Thanks Muna)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Hydropolitical Baseline of the Upper Jordan River

My friend Karim worked on this report.

The Association of the Friends of Ibrahim Abd el Al
<> is pleased to announce the publication
of the /Hydropolitical Baseline of the Upper Jordan River
<>/, a study undertaken
by the UEA Water Security Research Centre.

 The /Hydropolitical Baseline of the Upper Jordan River/ study examines
the history and current politics of water use in the basin –
specifically the Liddan, Banias and Hasbani sub-basins. An
interdisciplinary lens interprets the archives of French and British
authorities, Lebanese and Israeli river flow data, news media,
interviews and unpublished official reports. Finding the distribution of
the transboundary flows to be asymmetric in the extreme, the study
investigates how the inequity has been achieved and is maintained. It
also situates the Lebanon-Israel water conflict within the broader
political conflict, and examines the effect of the 2006 war on water
resources and water infrastructure. The study thus fills an important
gap with significance to the wider Jordan River Basin (including Syria,
Jordan and the West Bank and Gaza) – and lays the baseline for the
river’s equitable use.

Amongst many other findings, the study:

   * Clearly establishes the physical basis for the Liddan as an
     international river;
   * Identifies significant knowledge gaps in the public domain of
     hydrology, hydro-geology, and water use;
   * Finds that transboundary groundwater flows are of greater volume
     than surface water flows;
   * Provides an estimate of use of the Upper Jordan River basin
     (surface water and groundwater, in million cubic metres per year):
     Syria – 0, Lebanon – about 11, Israel – 360 to 520;
   * Shows how control of water resources can be maintained /with/ (the
     Golan – Banias and groundwater recharge of the Liddan) or
     /without/ (e.g. the upper Hasbani) the control of territory, and
     other aspects of hydro-hegemony;
   * Identifies established and emerging narratives constructed about
     the flows, and discusses the implications of an Israeli discourse
     linking water with state security on resolution of the water conflict;
   * Evaluates the importance of control over water resources with the
     Israeli occupation of Ghajar and the Cheba’a Farms, alongside
     military and religious motives;
   * Documents the extensive damage to water resources and water
     infrastructure during the 2006 war, in violation of the rules of war;
   * Finds that mediation by the international diplomatic community
     during the 2002 Wazzani Springs dispute tended towards conflict
     management, and away from conflict resolution; and
   * Discusses the extent to which International Water Law may form the
     basis of equitable use and resolution of the water conflict.

 The Executive Summary
Main Study
and Annexes
are available on the website of the UEA Water Security Research Centre.

Exploitation or Independence?

Dear Laila has kindly translated my Al akhbar article

Exploitation or Independence?
This month, Lebanon has witnessed three conferences and seminars on Arab food security. This interest is primarily led by the deteriorating food situation in the Arab world. Arabs import half the food they consume, with market fluctuations compounding the fragility of their food security. On this note, many of the conference participants pointed out the coincidence between the rise of world food prices and the outbreak of the Arab uprisings. 
In reality, the food production sector in the Arab world faces great challenges. These originate in the economic policies followed by the Arab countries, which have favored neoliberalism and facilitated the reliance on the service sectors instead of bolstering the production sector. This has led to gaping inequality in the distribution of land and government bias towards the interests of the rich. All these factors together have led to the collapse of the countryside and the spread of unemployment (30% of youth). Despite all of this, the rural population in Arab countries continues to rise. They represent one-third of Arabs, and of course most of them are poor.
Despite some naive suggestions which talk about the importance of supporting the migration of the youth to cities, there is general agreement on the role of agriculture in the move from revenue to production and in combatting poverty and unemployment. However, mystery still shrouds the kind of policies that have to be adopted and the mechanisms of implementing them. These questions may focus on the quality of growth for the sector and the nature of work opportunities. Here, we have to answer this important question: what kind of agriculture do we want for our countries? A capital investment agriculture based on the exploitation of agricultural workers under the pretext of creating jobs? Or do we want to revive family agriculture which secures food sovereignty and supports sustainable economic growth? In light of the Arab revolutions, is the choice going to be between exploitation and independence? 

الاستغلال أم الاستقلال؟

 الاستغلال أم الاستقلال؟

رامي زريق
شهد لبنان خلال هذا الشهر، ثلاثة مؤتمرات وندوات، كان موضوعها الأمن الغذائي العربي. في الأساس، يعود هذا الاهتمام إلى واقع العالم العربي الغذائي المتردي. العرب يستوردون نصف ما يستهلكونه من غذاء، مما يزيد من هشاشة وضعهم الغذائي، في ظل تقلبات السوق. وفي هذا الصدد، أشار العديد من الباحثين، إلى التزامن بين ارتفاع أسعار الغذاء العالمية، واندلاع الانتفاضات العربية.
في الواقع، يواجه قطاع انتاج الغذاء في الوطن العربي تحديات كبيرة، تعود في الأصل إلى السياسات الاقتصادية المتبعة، التي حفزت النمط النيوليبرالي، وسهلت الاتكال على القطاعات الريعية بدلاً من تدعيم القطاعات الإنتاجية، ما أدى إلى غياب العدالة في توزيع الملكيات الزراعية وانحياز الحكومات لمصالح الأثرياء. هذه العوامل مجتمعة، أدت إلى انهيار الريف وتفشي البطالة (تطاول٣٠٪ من الشباب). ورغم كل شيء، لا يزال عدد الريفيين في الوطن العربي يتصاعد، إذ يمثّل سكان الأرياف أكثر من ثلث العرب، وطبعاً معظمهم من الفقراء.
رغم بعض الاقتراحات «الساذجة» التي تتحدث عن ضرورة دعم هجرة الشباب إلى المدن، ثمة توافق عام على دور الزراعة في الانتقال من الريع إلى الإنتاج وفي مكافحة الفقر والبطالة، لكن، ما زال الغموض يسيطر على نوع السياسات التي يجب تبنيها وآليات تنفيذها. وقد تتمحور التساؤلات عن نوعية النمو القطاعي وطبيعة فرص العمل. وهنا، علينا الإجابة عن سؤال أساسي: أيّ زراعة نريد لبلادنا؟ زراعة استثمارية رأس ماليّة مبنيّة على استغلال العمال الزراعيين تحت ستار خلق فرص العمل، أم إنعاش الزراعة العائلية التي تؤمن السيادة الغذائية وتدعم النمو الاقتصادي المستدام؟ في ظل الثورات العربية، هل يكون الخيار هو الاستغلال أم الاستقلال؟

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Thurayya tells it like it is

"I feel like I am watching a kind of regression, the reestablishment of a bourgeois and aristocratic class that spends actual time and effort on reminding the other classes of the large difference between them. It is the undoing of the French Revolution and social reform and a crude, and obscene display of effortless wealth to those who work their whole lives to produce just a fraction of a fraction of it. It's aristocracy in its purest and most disgusting form - and not nearly as cute and adorable as Disney's animated movie, Aristocats."

Monday, February 20, 2012

An Imperfect Revolution

Dear Laila has kindly provided a translation of my al akhbar article

An Imperfect Revolution

The Arab popular uprisings have proved that people can change the symbols of their ruling regimes. But a difficult question remains: are we able to change the social and economic reality, to improve the living conditions of the exploited and downtrodden classes and to achieve the social justice called for by the Arab revolutionaries? 

Current indications are not encouraging, there is little call for optimism. Newspapers and television stations say that public feeling on the Tunisian streets shows that there has been no real change in the countryside, where the revolution began. This is despite the fact that the agriculture sector provides more than 12% of the national product and attracts foreign investment. Statistics show that agricultural exports rose by 10% after the revolution. However, none of these achievements were used to improve the livelihoods of small producers and agricultural workers. They did not lower unemployment, rife in the countryside.

The problem lies in the economic model followed by Arab countries. The revolutions have not been able to change this despite removing the sleeping faces from various parliaments. This model depends on economic growth based on the maximum exploitation of human and natural resources. Wealth is concentrated in the hands of a small class of capitalists who control national policy because of their influence and who promulgate laws to protect their property. 

No uprising, revolution, spring or autumn can change this reality if this system, which builds its wealth on the exploitation of the weak, is not confronted. There are some positive indications that lead to cautious optimism. In Egypt, a popular movement has finally started in the countryside, where 18 million farmers live. It seeks to include farmers’ rights to land, water and a decent living in the new constitution. This is a pioneering step in our Arab World, which lacks targeted popular social action. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012


There is an inner wakefulness,
That directs the dream

Without knowing the secret of its desire,
Yet turning instinctively

And that will eventually lead us,

To its exquisite promise

(Thanks Annie)

IAW: bring it on

Diplomacy Ministry to send Israelis from different sectors in society abroad to represent and
defend the state. The Public Diplomacy Ministry plans to send 100 Israelis from different sectors in society abroad to represent and defend the state during Israel
Apartheid Week.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Food and Nutrition security

"Nutrition is also attracting attention because of some puzzling failures. In a few big countries, notably India and Egypt, malnutrition is much higher than either economic growth or improvements in farming would suggest it should be. India’s income per head grew more than fourfold between 1990 and 2010; yet the proportion of underweight children fell by only around a quarter. By contrast, Bangladesh is half as rich as India and its income per head rose only threefold during the same period; yet its share of underweight children dropped by a third and is now below India’s. Egypt’s agricultural value-added per person rose more than 20% in 1990-2007. Yet both malnutrition and obesity rose—an extremely unusual combination." (Thanks Marcy)

Global March to Jerusalem-- March 30 2012

تظاهرة جديدة لمحافظ البحيرة تدفع المسئولين لشراء أقطان العام الماضى المخزنة لدى الفلاحين

تظاهرة جديدة لمحافظ البحيرة تدفع المسئولين لشراء أقطان العام الماضى المخزنة لدى  الفلاحين
فلاحو عزبة الأشراك يعاودون الحصول على الأسمدة بحصار الجمعية الزراعية

لجأ فلاحو عزبة الأشراك مركز شبراخيت والعزب المجاورة لإجبار المسئولين بمحافظة البحيرة على استلام أقطانهم المخزنة لديهم منذ العام الماضى بتظاهرة ضخمة توجهت لمبنى المحافظة فى بداية الأسبوع الرابع من شهر ديسمبر 2011 معلنين احتجاجهم على موقف الدولة من الصمت المطبق إزاء تركهم أقطان العام الزراعى الماضى دون شراء.
وفى بحر أسبوعين أرسلت المحافظة عددا من فرازى القطن  لتحديد رتبة الأقطان التى تم تجميعها فى عدة قرى تمهيدا لشرائها.
من ناحية أخرى قاموا بالتوجه يوم الإثنين الماضى 16 يناير 2012 إلى مقر الجمعية الزراعية بقرية الأشراك للمطالبة بمقررات الأسمدة الخاصة بمحصول القمح ، وبعد المما  حكات المعتادة من موظفى الجمعية اضطروا لصرف 150 كجم (3 عبوات ) لكل فدان .
هذا وقد عزم الفلاحون على تكرار المحاولة فى الشهر القادم لاستكمال حصصهم من هذه الأسمدة.
من ناحية ثالثة أفاد محمد المكاوى أن الشرطة ذكرت أنها ما زالت تبحث عن المتهمين فى محاولة سرقة مواشيه فى شهر نوفمبر 2011 والاعتداء على نجله محمود مما أسفر عن إصابته بشلل نصفى وفقد للنطق.
ويضيف المكاوى أن المتهمين أبناء أخ أحد موظفى رئاسة الجمهورية السابق وأنهم ضمن تشكيل عصابى مع آخرين من عزبة جراجس وعزبة غربال ويقومون بسرقة الآلات الزراعية وكابلات الكهرباء على مستوى محافظة البحيرة وأن هذه المعلومات تعرفها الشرطة جيدا ولا يفهم كيف لم يتم  القبض عليهم حتى الآن ..؟

الجمعة 20 يناير 2012

فلاحو البحيرة يفضحون تزوير خرائط أراضى الإصلاح الزراعى

فلاحو البحيرة يفضحون تزوير خرائط أراضى الإصلاح الزراعى 
ويطالبون بالتحقيق مع المسئولين واستئناف عملية مسح أراضيهم
فى واقعة جديدة توجه اليوم الأربعاء 8 فبراير 2012 عدة آلاف من فلاحى قرى عزبة الأشراك وأبو خراش والأشراك البلد وعزبة الخمسين مركز شبراخيت إلى مديرية الإصلاح الزراعى بدمنهور ؛ مطالبين المديرية بالنظر فى شكواهم بشأن استئناف مسح أراضيهم تمهيدا لتمليكها لهم كما أمر قرار هيئة الإصلاح بالقاهرة والذى توقف منذ فترة بسبب تدخل عدد من المتنفذين بالمنطقة ممن يطمعون فى اغتصاب الأرض من الفلاحين.
وكانت الأرض التى يزرعونها قد صادرتها الدولة من إحدى الأسر التركية بقانون الإصلاح الزراعى فى خمسينات القرن الماضى ووزعتها عليهم بنظام التمليك المقسط وتسلمت من الفلاحين المنتفعين على 12 قسطا سنويا من ثمنها.
ونظرا لشعور مسئولى الإصلاح بالبحيرة بجدية الفلاحين وإصرارهم على تنفيذ مطلبهم فورا  قاموا بإصدار الأوامر لعدد من المساحين بالمديرية وأمدوهم " بخرائط الأرض ".
إلا أن المفاجأة التى كشفها الفلاحون كانت مذهلة حيث حدد المساحون موقع الأرض المشار إليها  بعيدا عن الأرض التى يزرعونها بزمامات القرى الأربعة بحوالى  ثلاثة كيلومترات؛ وهنا ثار الفلاحون وأدركوا أن مسئولى الإصلاح بالبحيرة يتلاعبون بهم حيث زوروا الخرائط الخاصة بالأرض – تمهيدا لتسهيل لاستيلاء عليها- وأطلعوهم على موقعها الفعلى على خريطة أصلية كانوا يحتفظون بها منذ سنوات طويلة، وهنا أُسقط فى يد المساحين.
هذا  وقد عاد الفلاحون  إلى مسئولى المديرية مطالبين بالتحقيق فى الأمر واستئناف عملية المسح استنادا إلى الخرائط الحقيقية.
وبناء عليه وعد مسئولو مديرية الإصلاح الفلاحين باستئناف عملية المسح يوم الأحد 12 فبراير 2012 ؛ ولازال الموقف مشتعلا فى القرى الأربعة وينذر بالانفجار إن لم يتم المسح على أساس الخرائط غير المزورة.
يذكر أن ذوى النفوذ بالمنطقة الذين يتلمظون على الأرض من أكثر من 15 عاما قد قاموا بحشد جيش من البلطجية وهاجموا القرى المذكورة فى عام 2004 إلا أن الفلاحين صدّوهم ثم تكرر الهجوم عام 2007 بجيش أكبر وأسفرت المعركة الدامية عن هروب البلطجية المعتدين وللأسف تم ذلك أمام سمع وبصر الشرطة ، علاوة على عمليات التحرش المتواصلة منذ ذلك التاريخ التى مارستها شرطة مباحث الرحمانية مع الفلاحين  وكذلك حرمان القرية لمدة تزيد عن أربع سنوات من مياة الرى العذبة مما دهور إنتاج الأرض إلى 25 % من إنتاجها الفعلى وأسفر عن إصابة العشرات بالفشل الكلوى الذى أدى لوفاة حوالى 20 فلاحا وفلاحة بسبب استخدام مياة الصرف الصحى فى رى زراعاتهم. 

الأربعاء 8 فبراير 2012                       بشير صقر
                                          لجنة التضامن الفلاحى- مصر

Friday, February 17, 2012

ثورة ناقصة

ثورة ناقصة
رامي زريق
أثبتت الانتفاضات الشعبية العربية قدرة الجماهير على تغيير رموز أنظمتها القائمة. لكن يبقى سؤال صعب: هل نحن قادرون على تغيير الواقع الاقتصادي والاجتماعي، وتحسين سبل عيش الطبقات المستغلّة والمسحوقة، وتحقيق العدالة الاجتماعية التي نادى بها الثوار العرب؟ المؤشرات الحالية ليست مشجعة ولا تدعو إلى الكثير من التفاؤل. تقول معلومات الصحف ومحطات التلفزة إن الشعور العام في الشارع التونسي يظهر أنه لم يحدث أي تغيير في الريف الذي اندلعت منه الثورة، علماً أن القطاع الزراعي لا زال يساهم بأكثر من ١٢ في المئة من الناتج الوطني ويجذب الاستثمارات الخارجية. وتشير الاحصائيات إلى زيادة الصادرات الزراعية بنسبة ١٠ في المئة بعد الثورة. إلا أن جميع هذه الانجازات لم تترجم بتحسين معيشة صغار المنتجين والعمال الزراعيين، ولم تغير واقع البطالة المتفشية في الأرياف. وتكمن المشكلة في النمط الاقتصادي الذي تتبعه البلدان العربية، والذي لم تغيره الثورات رغم خلعها الوجوه النائمة في البرلمانات. يرتكز هذا النمط على النمو الاقتصادي المبني على أقصى حدود الاستغلال للبشر والموارد الطبيعية وتركيز الثروات في أيدي طبقة صغيرة من أهل المال تدير السياسة الوطنية من خلال نفوذها، وتسن القوانين لحماية ممتلكاتها.
ولن تستطع أي انتفاضة أو ثورة أو ربيع أو خريف تغيير هذا الواقع ما لم تواجه هذه المنظومة التي تبني ثروتها على استغلال الضعفاء. لكن تبقى بعض المؤشرات الايجابية التي تدعو إلى التفاؤل الحذر؛ في مصر، انطلقت أخيراً حركة شعبية من الريف، حيث يعيش ١٨ مليون فلاح، بهدف ادراج حقوق الفلاحين بالأرض والماء و العيش الكريم في الدستور الجديد. تجربة رائدة في وطننا العربي الذي يفتقر إلى العمل الاجتماعي الشعبي الهادف.

Monday, February 13, 2012

My almond tree has started to flower

From the window of my house in Sinay, Jabal `Amel

Monday, February 6, 2012

Coca-Cola accused of propping up Swaziland dictator

"Coca-Cola has been accused of propping up one of Africa's most notorious dictators.
The multibillion dollar beverage company owns a concentrate-manufacturing plant in Swaziland, an impoverished kingdom ruled by Africa's last absolute monarch, Mswati III."

Friday, February 3, 2012

Israeli apartheid week

An apple a day

"Mastery of the economics of the supply chain is, however, only one of the reasons Jobs and Apple favored China. The central reason continued to be cheap labor that is disciplined by the state. What emerges in the Times account about Apple's practices is that, despite its protestations about being a socially responsible firm, Apple bargains hard, allowing its contractors "only the slimmest of profits". Thus, "suppliers often try to cut corners, replace expensive chemicals with less costly alternatives, or push their employees to work faster and longer".

"The only way you make money working for Apple is figuring out how to do things more efficiently or cheaper," said an executive at one company that helped bring the iPad to market. "And then they'll come back the next year, and force a 10% price cut."

Not surprisingly, a number of Apple suppliers have been plagued with accidents, including explosions, since, as one former Apple executive put it, "If you squeeze margins, you're forcing them to cut safety." (Thanks Karim)

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Photography exhibition in support of SANAD

Dar el Mussawir and Mohannad al-Khatib are hosting a photography exhibition to support the work of SANAD, a non-profit NGO offering assistance and care to end-of-life patients and their families.

The exhibition features 50 beautiful photographs by Mohannad al-Khatib chronicling his travels around the world!

OpeningFriday February 3rd, 2012 at 5pm –
               Dar el-Mussawir, Clemenceau, Beirut.
               The exhibition will run until March 2nd, 2012.

All photographs will be on sale; and ALL PROCEEDS will go to SANAD to enable us to provide dignified end-of-life care to everyone who needs it.

Please come, and please help us by circulating to your network.


Our focus is on the preservation of dignity and relief of suffering in patients with terminal illness in order to maintain the best possible quality of life. We strive to empower patients and their families to become skilled in their own care and allow them to make informed choices that are in line with their values and beliefs.

We aim to provide holistic care to address the medicalpsychological and social needs of patients and their caregivers. This includes management of pain and other symptoms as well as treatment of medical complications. These services are delivered to patients regardless of nationality, religion, political affiliation, gender, diagnosis or ability to pay.

For more information on SANAD, visit:

Habib Ayeb on Tunisia, al nahda's victory through the class lens

"Finally, we can say that if the success of the Islamists is indisputable, they first owe it to their opponents, who led a negative campaign against Ennahda using an alienating rhetoric on modernity that excluded a large part of the population whose access to power, wealth, knowledge and information is limited. The Islamic winners did not, however, receive a blank check. Many among those who voted for Ennahda last October could easily end up in the opposing camp if voters are disappointed by broken promises, or if they sense a return to dogmas that are too radical and conservative."

In debt

"Many farmers I met during my fieldwork in Fayoum Governorate are currently in huge amounts of debt. It is estimated that around 120,000 small farmers are struggling to repay their debts to the bank. Farmers are indebted to the bank because of the agricultural loans they applied for in Mubarak’s days, and specifically under Kamal al-Ganzouri’s cabinet, in the 1990s. 
Hassan, a small farmer from Fayoum, told me that he first applied to an agricultural credit loan at 5.5 percent interest, and then he couldn’t pay. His debt accumulated to exceed the amount set for agricultural loans. Thus, the bank officer restructured his debt by transferring what he owed to an investment credit loan at 17 percent interest rate." (Thanks Anne)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Dear Laila has kindly translated my al akhbar article

The Year of Cooperatives

UN agencies dealing with food and agriculture have recently declared 2012 “The International Year of Cooperatives.” This comes with a programme of action aiming to improve the role of farming cooperatives in poor countries as a major way of dealing with rural poverty and supporting food security. In their statement, they point out that cooperatives operate in all economic sectors, include 800 million members and provide 100 million job opportunities. The gross output of the largest 300 cooperatives in the world exceeded a trillion dollars in 2008. In Brazil, which has seen rapid agricultural growth in the past decade, cooperatives are responsible for 37% of agricultural output, therefore more than 5% of gross output. Cooperative working is the most successful way to enable small producers to enter the market and confront the monopoly of fertilizers and seeds, for example, by the large corporations. It also helps to strengthen the negotiating power of the weak.

Internationally, farming and food cooperatives have an essential role in food security and improving the standards of living for the poor. But, as usual, Lebanon is an exception to the rule. Despite the existence of hundreds of farming cooperatives, food security is still deteriorating while the number of the rural poor increases.

Most observers believe that the cooperative experience in Lebanon has not been successful on the whole, despite international funding reaching millions of dollars in the case of some. This has to do with the absence of a legal framework to protect the rights of any members and the inequality between citizens when it comes to applying the law. Without these measures, the cooperatives become another political tool in the hands of some influential people, contributing only in terms of strengthening the power relationships that are a feature of the prevailing order.

The insidious politics of food journalism: where is Palestine?

"One of the most insidious ways that the name, idea, and knowledge of Palestine has been disappeared is through food journalism. It's a Cold War technique, using cultural journalism to advance political programs. One prime example of this was the Time-Life "Middle Eastern Cooking" from the "cooking of the world series", this volume published in 1969. The word Palestine has been disappeared, though there is a chapter on Israel--an entirely separate chapter, "New Food for a New Land"-- though the theme of the book is the seamless continuity of the region, shown through its food. "Nine Nations, one cuisine."" (Thanks Laila)