"Land day" in Palestinian camp Ain el Heloueh

Meet 1948 Palestinian refugees Fadel Tah and Hussein Ali Issa (they are respectively 86 and 84 years old). I don’t know how Israelis wake up in the morning everyday and get on with their daily lives with this on their conscience.

Portentous …?

Am I the only one who feels a chill down his spine when King Abdullah calls the U.S. presence in Iraq an “illegitimate foreign occupation” ?
I have been around the block enough times to appreciate the pathetic pageantry of Arab League summits, but a head-on verbal fusillade against the U.S. by its closest ally?
Perhaps, I am being too paranoid, but when the US surrogates/monarchs start refusing to go to White House parties (warning: Hoagland is an idiot), I get really, really worried. Maybe, it is just an acknowledgment of Iran’s popularity and diplomatic and rhetorical skill in assuming regional leadership despite obvious disadvantages. But maybe they know something I do not.
We shall see.

Christmas Come Early …

Hopefully it won’t be long until I am home to get ready for Molly’s birthday party with a present from the Iranian people.

I wanna get taken hostage by Iran …!

More seriously, Iranian propaganda has me impressed. Yes, it is ham-fisted (when is propaganda not?), but it really does the trick. Expect the Iranians to milk the “hostage crisis” — not a crisis at all — for as long as humanly possible.

The Iranian leadership is literally talking its way into being an important country, which certainly must be a more fun way to do it than meeting with Dick Cheney and must be driving the Saudis and Israelis absolutely mad.

Bien joue!

UPDATE: Someone agrees:

Clearly, Tehran’s row with London has had immediate dividends with respect to Iran’s regional clout, causing pro-Iran sympathies in the Arab world. Arabs now see in Iran’s “heroic” standing up to “Western imperialists” a source of much-needed inspiration and hope, in contrast to their own feckless leadership. “The Arabs of the Persian Gulf are now less inclined to join the US and Israel against Iran than they were a mere week ago,” a former Iranian diplomat told the author.

Rice Pudding …

Tis a testament to the rottenness of the current US regime that I find myself with sympathies for a sycophant like Mme. Rice. No comment here, I just like the pic.

I would add that all of this plays perfectly into Iran’s hands, just as the “Holocaust conference” did. Sometimes I wonder if power makes you stupid. If so, make me a weakling.


Well, while we’re at it, let me remind our reader that Apokraphytus is from Dar el Shaytan, and so we will show no mercy…

Box Score: Dave 1, Bech 0

Just for the record, Bech is furious that I have mentioned basketball in his blog on the Middle East. He would prefer we present ourselves through this blog as somber intellectual types pondering the serious questions of our times rather than braying sheep susceptible to the hysterics of such mass delusions as organized sports.

As one can glean from this blog, I play Bloom to his Daedalus. Thus, I am always encouraging him to join us lowly beasts of burden by recongizing his status as a domesticated mammal.

So in that spirit, baah, baah, baah!

Israel sighs with relief: No clear right of return for Palestinians

See how this Israeli journalist is so afraid Palestinians may have the right to return that he scrutinizes the UN resolutions pertaining to the issue and find that the texts are quite vague and that Israel will not have to comply with a clear ‘legally binding’ right of return. Well, first it shows us how utterly petty and miserable some Israelis are, and second, it shows the possibility that actually the drafting of those resolutions were not the product of purely neutral international instances (those ideals you would see materializing in the minds of some Lebanese for example).

Hubba-Hubba …

The Israeli Consulate in New York has come up with an ingenious idea to promote tourism to Israel in the United States: officials there have managed to twist the arms of the most popular US men’s magazine, Maxim, to write a feature about stunning Israeli models.

Back when I was under the spell of Roman villiany, some guys from the Israeli consulate in NYC requested a meeting to push story ideas for the magazine I was editing. When I see this report, I learn that they could have been more persuasive …

PS: Going Hollywood.
Another PS by Bech (with kind permission?): yoyo check this out.

Jumblatt’s training camps

I was talking to a friend who lives in the Shouf and apparently there are training camps near Moukhtara. Friends of my friend are going there to learn how to butcher Shi’a meat and then come back to tell him transcendental experiences (so believe me, the story is real). The “Shi’a” come to exemplify the most horrible enemy. It reminds me of another story of a doctor friend who was invited to a lunch in some village in the Shouf where a majoritarily Druze table explained to him how the “Shi’a” and the “Druze” don’t share the same ‘values and tradition’, and that the Shi’a are “really something else”.

This symbolic conceptualization of the “something” else is the ideological (the amazing thing in Lebanon is how quickly signification slides from one ‘something else’ to another). Anyway, the doctor was amazed and retorted (I quote): “Yikhrebaytkom sorto te7ko metelna el Massa7iyeh!” ([assumingly god] destroys your homes, you now talk like us Christians!). Indeed, if only they knew that other Christians thought that although the Druze new ideological representations involve condescending feeling towards the “Shi’a”, they (Christians) still thought they were different from the Druze, the Shi’a etc. I love this rich stratification of ideologies! Of course the doctor example involves the representations of a specific social class so we cannot generalize but you get the feel of the different semiotic activities in the “Switzerland of the Middle East”. It is just that, the more you’re upper class, the more you elaborate the doctrines of your ideology (because from an economic point of view, you have the time required to do that).

Now on another level, I know many people would retort by saying that from the Lebanese Forces to Jumblatt’s so-called ‘progressive’ socialist party – I have no problem with the distortion of the word ‘socialist’, many people have distorted this term before, but it is the use of ‘progressive’ in such a context that is historically unprecedented! – these training camps are insignificant to start a proper civil war. Well, the important thing is that the potential (and the intention is there. The point is that it is still the same old story where masla7a-driven elites are guiding people towards certain useless death. Imagine Jumblatt would have decided that actually the Americans are not strategic allies but say keep closer to Hizbullah like he used to pretend to be. Horribly enough, the choice of the partner to cover your ass may involve some useless discursive imagination and some slaughtering in the process.

Update: Jean Aziz in Al-Akhbar wrote yesterday that Jumblatt is trying to massively buy land in Jezzine (Christian dominated village towards the south) after some Shi’a investors came to buy some parcels. According to Aziz, the lands that Jumblatt has an eye on would secure a strategic passage between the Shouf and Wadi al Tim (To Druze dominated region separated by a Shi’a enclave).

Damned Proud …?

Bolton calls it “perfectly legitimate and good politics” for the Israelis to try to defeat their enemy militarily as it was acting in its own self-defense. He said he was “damned proud of what we did” in preventing an early cease-fire.

What planet do these people come from?

What’s in a name?

This is why symbols are so important in politics. Israel is busy thinking about how to call the last invasion of Lebanon. Israeli families of dead soldiers are asking the government to officially name it. The government is a bit split on the issue between those who want to call it operation and other who want to call it war. Families prefer “war” as it gives more dignity to their relatives death. On the other side, Hizbullah already called it “divine victory” for example, different tones, same strategies: how to symbolically frame the way people give meaning to their affiliations.

Thanks to Jumblat and Hariri begging, Chirac will push for Geagea?

So Druze feudal warlord Walid Jumblatt and Sunni oligarch Saad Hariri are pushing French corrupted (in part by the lavish payments of Hariri family) and arms dealer president Jacques Chirac to accept civil war long-time militia-man extreme Christian wacko Samir Geagea as a most appropriate candidate for the presidency of Lebanon? And so Chirac meets with Geagea? Great… where have we come down to? Has the French president anything else to do than to meet with Hariri one day and decorate him on useless grounds, then meet the next day with baby killer Geagea? Pitiful L’Orient Le jour must now have multiple orgasms: “civilization has finally recognized that we Lebanese are part of them! They care about Lebanon!”

In any case, this development shows why I think Geagea has gained everything in a sense. Everybody thinks that Geagea worked for Hariri and that it is a shame for the Christians etc. But I think that Geagea has shrewdly worked his way in order to impose himself as the only feasible candidate. The more the opposition grew stronger the more the ‘majority’ could only resort to extreme ends in order to get their political share. This is where Geagea’s role became indispensable, a strategy followed by the extreme right in most countries, not to say the least in Israel… and papa Chirac will always do what the financial benefactors ask for (for example UN 1559 etc.).

Annahar al shabab: Contradictory ideological claims

This post is complete. Just added the italics under Tueni’s part

Between the ideological traces of a haunting Gebran Tueni that crystallizes a definition of the enemy (the Syrian, the other) and the isolationist, culturally essentialist Huntingtonian claims (there a different values and traditions in Lebanon) of a disgruntled Christian elite, it seems that the “Shabab” have a long way to go before reaching political maturity.

Sami Gemayel (son of ex-president Amin, brother of slain minister Pierre), leader of Loubnanouna (right wing Christian party), has a detailed interview in Annahar al Shabab where he calls for a federal system in Lebanon. Nothing new I know, but I would like to review this article, and actually comment on the whole initiative of “Annahar al Shabab” in this post.

Little parenthesis: I see that Loubanouna’s website has withdrew Bachir Gemayel’s (Lebanese Forces founder, slain president in 1982) picture from the front page, a thoughtful gesture.

Update: (1) Something to forward to Angry Arab: the Annahar al Shabab has a little article on how a ‘very important’ doctor (a certain Abbas Shamseddine) has won some medical prize in the US and that there was an article on him in a prestigious american magazine. Horribly enough and this is what the Al Shabab article say: the magazine forgot to mention that he was Lebanese, and thus show that Lebanon is the “Lebanon of civilization” (Lubnan al 7adara)! I will kill myself…
(2) There is a huge article arguing that demonstrating in public places ‘that long’ is not acceptable (or even legal) because violating access to public goods. Let me remind the historically amnesiac woman (Manal Chaya) writing this article that the whole project of downtown is a blatant violation of private and public property, and an ignominious farce in the face of the petty Lebanese!
(3) Rare investigative moment of the Mul7ak: A distinguished psychologist has very deep thoughts on why people follow leaders. Explanation (literally this is what she says…): because they need to identify to some form of authority. Thank you, I now can sleep.
(4) One need to read the ‘tawsiyat’ of Gebran Tueni to the ‘shabab’. It basically says: Syrians are your primary enemy. Don’t let them divide you (you the christians of course). There is no entity called Israel. There is no south of Lebanon for that matter, no contentious business over there. All in all, be good and brave little compliant subject following the principles i’m dictating, and you’ll be rewarded. What I say is not really that clear but what the hell, it is just marketing, plus I want to issue this newspaper to show that there is a facade of intellectual inquiry.

Update 2: I would not be exaggerating if I said that Gemayel’s party is an upper class version of the Lebanese Forces. His detached tone, his reluctance to engage politics betrays an elitist understanding that “we don’t mix with the petty politicians” that are present today. If the Lebanese Forces are a version of popular Christian upsurge (albeit a minority, I have already analyzed the difference in populism between LF and Tayyar, will try to find the link), Loubnanouna is its little sister, made of elites (or wanna be elites) with a far-right understanding to how societies are structured. In this sense, Loubnanouna is not made of thugs like the LF, i.e. people ready to go and shoot other people. they are the ‘tete chercheuse’ of the right. They want to think of what should be discursively permissible in order to create the ‘Lebanese’ subject. Gemayel’s statements replicate a lot of the ideas of a friend of mine (also part of Loubnanouna), that there is something undeniably and unbridgeably different between the different sects, or Majmu3at as would call them Gemayel in Lebanon.

Interestingly enough, Majmu3at (literally ‘groupings’ in arabic) because it can enable him to strategically lump-sum Christians across sects (maronites, orthodox, catholics, etc.), a depiction that is a political aberration, as orthodox and catholics were mainly affiliated to leftist or just ‘pro-arab’ trends, whereas maronites were more involved in isolationist ‘pro-western’ camps. But even this classification breaks down if we look at it through regions, as it was really the result of specific tribal or clan-based political choices that a specific political trend was followed. Anyway, this can be a long discussion, the idea I wish to go from is that one should always deconstruct our perception of social entities as embedded in political structures and opportunities as well as social change that is historically determined.

The main problem with the political Right is that it confuse political social and economic structures and practices with values, beliefs, and other more elusive terms when it come to understanding reality. Confusing both is in itself a political program as it permits the crystallization of monolithic entities that are pitted against each other because presumed to be inherently and innately different. Whereas in reality, practices, ‘cultures’, are much more shifty, built and reframed by the political actors in places, remolded by the dominant powers exporting the discursively permissible, and thus creating the different Lebanese subjects through the formation of new and the fixation of old institutions.

If students studied the creation of a national subject in the different known countries today, one should reserve a special part to Lebanon where different national subjects are being defined by the confessional system. A federal system aims at crystallizing these (deemed to be) heterogeneous entities, and thereby foreclosing the possibility of molding the national Lebanese subject (it also invite foreign powers to be indispensable safety nets to the various ‘majmou3at’). One should not rely on federalism in the US or in Switzerland (the favorite example of Lebanese, especially because of its ‘civilizational’ symbolic undertone, plus the ‘banking’ elements) to push for the Lebanese federalist case, as the federalist case here will be based on the perception of difference at the ‘cultural’ level. It is built along these premises.

Whereas in the US and Switzerland, there are no perceived ‘cultural’ (as defined in the political sense of rigid systems of values and beliefs) differences, the federal system being simply a technically useful tool (there are other huge differences like the existence of a strongly centralized security system and a vibrant economy, two things Lebanon lacks completely, I advise everyone to check how powerful the Swiss army is and how stringent are its demands on its population, just do a google search). Basically, the Lebanese federalists are playing a dangerous game, and it is the “I’m Christian and I have a security dilemma” game. But that is a long story, and I shall post on it soon. Peace out.

News from upper class colonial remnants a.k.a. L’Orient-le-Jour

Ok so whereas most of the newspapers (of course not Al Mustaqbal) were reporting about Chirac having asked Israel to attack Syria in the midst of the July war (as leaked in Israeli newspaper Maariv, english link), l’Orient le Jour was busy living its ideological fantasy world, of a French president decorating a wealthy successful Lebanese (mini-Hariri). Its front page titled: Chirac à Hariri : Le Liban ne peut exister que libre, uni et souverain. The subtitle was much more outrageous: Demain, place de l’Étoile, les députés de la majorité rappelleront Berry à ses devoirs. Doesn’t it show L’OJ blind trust that ‘the majority’ is legitimate and is going to ‘teach a lesson to ‘Berri’ the evil guy close to the ‘other side’?

See, this is blunt ideological practice. What I like in L’Orient le Jour is that you don’t need to scratch your head too much, it’s so blatantly there in front you. It is the easiest target of criticism. And one of the reason is language: the discursive differentiation operated by language (it is a French newspaper). More on that one day.

Everything is symptomatic of the upper class French network. Check this for example also on its front page:

Nouveau président de l’Institut du monde arabe (IMA) à Paris, Dominique Baudis, qui connaît parfaitement le Liban, prépare une méga-exposition sur le thème « Les Phéniciens et la Méditerranée » qui se déroulera dans les locaux de cette maison prestigieuse. Baudis viendra à Beyrouth très prochainement dans le cadre de la préparation de cet événement.

I have a special message to Baudis (although he may not understand): Come Baudis and show us true civilization. We need people like you from France, just like Chirac who gives medals to his private cash disburser. Come and make us continue living in our fantasy world populated by the ideas of Michel Chiha and other early ideologues of the Christian-elitist Lebanon.

فصل شعري: الصمت العابر كالفضيحة

ما العمل بالصمت؟
أيّ حقيقة يكتشف الإصغاء في الصمت؟
أنواع من الصمت… لكن أتكلّم عمّا يرفض باستمرار أن يحميكِ!
الصمتُ العابر جَسَدَكِ كالفضيحة.
لا تُحاولي أنْ تنظري إليَّ. لن أستنجد ضدّ ما أجهل. ضدّ ما أسمع!
مَنْ منّا يجرؤ أنْ يجتاز هذا الفرق، و نصفُنا في العتمة؟
أتكَّلم عن الصمت الذي قد يَحدث…
عندئذ تتهامس المرأة والخنجر قراراتِ اللحظة، والأسباب تهرب…
عن الصمت الذي يُهدّد بالرسوّ. الفاجر وحده في البئر.
ما العمل بالصمت؟

ترى لو سكتنا قليلاً…

أنسي الحاج، الرأس المقطوع، 1963

Billy Collins, 1.
Marianne Moore, 1.
Theodore Roethke, 1, 2, 3, 4.
Dylan Thomas, 1.
Richard Wilbur, 1, 2, 3.

The ideological in L’Orient le Jour and beyond

I unfortunately cannot post the link because the article was published yesterday and L’Orient le Jour think that they are so interesting as a read that they make their archives payable (although without an online system to view it), but there was a certain Elie Fayad who wrote a horrible article unleashing his wrath against none other than Michel Aoun (leader of Christian opposition group). Funny how the most vitriolic charges against Aoun are written by Christian proto-fascist culprits. And L’Orient le Jour has been the most important platform (much more than Annahar interestingly enough I would argue) to make it a duty to criticize Aoun everyday (two days ago it was the decadent made-columnist Ziad Makhoul). Without reviewing all of the non-sense these guys propose, I just want to stop at one idea articulated by Fayad that is quite symptomatic of the intellectual thinking of the political right not only in Lebanon, but also in any produced political depiction of the Middle East, and that is the idea that today, the Arab world is not anymore in a struggle to assert an ‘Arabist’ face (as it was supposedly the case from the 1950s till the 80s) but is actually struggling to deal with the internal demon of the ‘Sunni-Shia’ divide. He uses this historical development to explain why Christians (because it is always about the choices Christians should make at L’Orient le Jour) should change their point of focus.

The following is just a parenthesis of thoughts derived by this reading (I will try to elaborate these ideas at much greater length in later posts). In this simple statement, you have decades of symbolic construction (elaborated by intellectuals, political actors, etc.) condensed to produce the best example of an ideological statement. It is as if when you talk of a ‘Sunni-Shia divide’ there are such entities in reality as ‘Sunni’ and ‘Shia’ beyond the political interest of a few who instrumentalize and create constantly re-drafted boundaries for what we should understand when we say ‘Sunni’ or when we say ‘Shia’. Of course, Fayad may know this, may be able to do this deconstruction. But if he’s conscious of the political manipulation, he nonetheless uses the available discursive form thus complying with the dominant discourse, reiterating something essentialist about the ‘Sunni’ or the ‘Shia’ beyond the material basis for such labels. This is the crux of the ideological: some hidden meaning in the word that does not really exist in the Real, that is nonetheless used to make sense of reality, even if conscious of its non-existence (i.e. that the subject is conscious of the fact that the concept of a ‘Sunni-Shia divide’ is not really existent across all of the Arab world).

Take for example the concept of ‘the Syrian’ or ‘the Palestinian’, and see how the pervasive ideological element (the idea that there is something lodged in the idea of a Syrian or a Palestinian, something synonymous to ‘the other’, ‘the enemy’, ‘the manipulator’, or the one who pulls the strings for example) has foreclosed the possibility of genuinely interesting inquiry about political developments in the past couple of decades.

Friends of Israel …?

“Our commitment to Israel defines us as a nation,” said Republican Norm Coleman of Minnesota, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, adding that the AIPAC lobbyists “help make sure that we don’t forget.”

What’s funny is that AIPAC’s leadership has clearly decided not to push publicly for a military solution to the Iranian nuclear standoff. Is there such a thing as being too successful? Clearly, the attack on Iran is to be framed as an American interest, but I am not sure AIPAC can keep this under control. If you need evidence of a growing Frankenstein problem, I offer:

“The sleeping giant of Christian Zionism has awoken!” Hagee proclaimed, taking the microphone at the opening dinner reception on Sunday. The electrified crowd — most of it Jewish — roared in support, pounding on the tables. Hagee went on to declare the United Nations a “political brothel” and asserted that Israel must never give up land. He agreed with Israeli writer Dore Gold that granting part of Jerusalem to the Palestinians would be “tantamount to turning it over to the Taliban.” And, after rebuking Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, he led the crowd in a chant of “Israel lives!” urging them to “shout it from the mountaintops!”

Some of Lebanon’s power shifts

Now if you come to think about it, what happened in Lebanon in the last few years is a classical example of shifts in power poles. One need to look at changes happening at the level of organizations and institutions (of the state and related) that deal with security issues, especially if one wants to understand the political deadlock which we are slowly sinking in.

The main argument I wish to make is that, at the local level, Syria’s withdrawal from Lebanon has provoked two main events: First, it has rushed Hizbullah to get out of its self-made ‘safe-zone’ and confront specific political choices it had to make at some point. This is prevalent in the fact that every institution in the party is trying to adjust to the new reality, and this can be seen clearly through its media organs, the new meanings used in speeches (borrowing from ‘Lebanese’ ideological material such as cedar, mountains etc.), and especially through the practices of the organization (denouncing more forcefully other Lebanese player for example), in the run up to the dialogue sessions, to its demands to have a share in existential national decision.

The second event is the frontal assault waged against Hizbullah, forcefully followed by the 14th of March heterogeneous political alliance. Of course both events are closely linked.

The security void has triggered many tentative seizing of coercive means. The Lebanese army stayed closely allied with the president keeping a close coordination with Hizbullah, one of the reasons why 14th of Marchers want the president down. Alternatively, some groups tried to seize other security-sensitive state institutions like the police forces or internal security forces (Hariri and the Amn el dakhili), while others, lacking easy access to the state have resorted to militia strengthening (Geagea and the LF, and probably the SSNP and various other smaller organizations).

Assassination rationales can be inscribed in the same context. Beyond their symbolic motives and repercussions in constraining elites to make specific political choices, and shifting public opinion in specific directions, the very strategic choice of assassinating would not have been that attractive prior to Syrian withdrawals because of the different security settings that prevailed.

The most important thing of it all is that Hizbullah has changed its political priorities for the second time (first time would be in 1992 by entering lebanese political life). How this will evolve is still a mystery. It will depend mostly on the regional brokered deals and how much Hizbullah will accept specific compromises. They seem to be ready to accept anything as long as their weapons are not dismantled under the Pax (well not pax if we look at Iraq…) Americana umbrella. This could have regressive repercussions on the capability of Hizbullah to contribute to a change in the Lebanese political system. Especially that in a sense, they may be the only group politically (practically) that can trigger long lasting change.

Why not the Christians? The way Christians are trying to squeeze themselves inside the new security formulas shows their profound weakness in being able to push for any substantial change. Divided between relying on Americans and alliances with Sunni and Druze oligarchs on the one hand, or strengthening the security system already put in place by the Lahoud-Hizbullah-Syria alliance, Christians are the most vulnerable target of all sects, and this is why it may be too soon to speak of a serious questioning of the confessional system. In both cases, Christians are very depended on other power brokers. In the first case, they want to go for ‘the whole nine yards’ a tradition set forth by their Phalangist and other isolationist antecedents. In the second, they accept neighboring political realities and want to work with it and have an already set institutional security structure to start from. In sum, Christian politics is still framed in the same security equations since Syria entered Lebanon in 1976. It is these security equations that first divided (to name but a few) the Qataeb (Phalangists), then the LF, and lately the various Christian groups picking and choosing from earlier political formations.

Is it also clear why political assassinations targeted Christians?

Musharraf out

The next regime that is going down is not the Iranian one boys and girls, but the Pakistani one. The US is apparently fed up with Pervez Musharaf and thinks more and more that he is not of such a big help in their war on.. (what?) well in their imperial quest. So they’re looking for ways to replace him, maybe with army chief or something.

Brammertz’ surprises

Gee.. I wonder why is it that the countries not cooperating with Brammertz investigation on the Hariri assassination are mostly those who back the ‘we want the truth’ camp or are in one way or another under the same sphere of influence?

According to the latest Brammertz report countries not cooperating are: USA, UK, France, Brazil, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Iraq, and last but not least, Israel.

Addendum: The same newspaper reporting that a diplomatic source said that the above mentioned countries were not cooperating says today that actually they are cooperating. So either Brammertz wants to cool things down and presents a clean report, or Al-Akhbar got it simply wrong.

Obama …?

A poll by the American Jewish Committee revealed that support among Jews for a military strike against Iran had dropped from 49 percent last year to 38 percent at

So I had an interesting conversation today with a Democratic party operative, and she suggested to my absolute astonishment that Obama was purposely aligning his position on Israel with mainstream Jewish Americans rather than with the pro-Israel hawks. When I asked about his prostration before AIPAC, she laughed: “there is a difference, you know, between crazy and stupid.”

Addendum: Cheney at AIPAC. That is another way to measure Jewish support for the Bush administration:

The crowd gave Cheney only one standing ovation and only partial applause when he made the connection between the need to stay in Iraq and the ability of the United States to deal effectively with Iran’s nuclear threat. In sharp contrast, when Cheney dedicated his speech last year to the dangers posed by Iran and Palestinian terrorism, he drew 48 rounds of applause, including eight standing ovations.

Unspeakable …

Several Jewish conferencegoers said they were concerned by Mr. Obama’s remark Sunday in Iowa where, in a reference to the Middle East, he said, “Nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people.”

What hath AIPAC wrought …

Proceed to Nearest Shelter!

“I want to have my conscience clear with Him. Then it doesn’t matter so much what others think.”

Greenwald, the author of linked piece, is a crank, but the quotes are priceless or terrifying or whatever …

Even More from The Idiot Nation …

A shocking new book proves Americans are simultaneously the most “religious” and the most religiously ignorant people in the developed world.

My Vote …

I see that Anthony Shadid is likely up for a Pulitizer for his coverage of Israel’s summer war on Lebanon. I hope he wins.

It was fascinating to compare the NYTimes and WaPost coverage this summer. The editorial pages of both papers were steadily pushing the worst kind of pro-Israel propaganda (in fact, I would argue that the arguments are not pro-Israel in any meaningful sense). But while the editors at the NYTimes were consistently smoothing their correspondents’s copy to fit that line, the WaPost gave Shadid a free hand and to my mind, he played it well.

Fun Facts About Arabs …

  • The Arabs are a proud and sensitive people …
  • Arab behavior has a propensity for conflict …
  • Reasons for Arab conflict may lie again with the family where competitiveness is instilled at an early age, and life generally exists under various forms of intense pressure …
  • In the Arab world there is little stigma placed on the loss of self control and what westerners would consider hysterical public outbursts of emotion …An Arab crowd is high strung emotionally …
  • There can even be less serious reasons, for example in Lebanon the author witnessed a severe riot in 1978 over the unpopular outcome of a beauty contest.

Bech, thank God you are not one of these people, but how ever do you live amongst them? FYI: Check the author’s credentials and be afraid, be very, very afraid … Also, would not it be fun to hear what Bush whispers in Hadley’s ear after meeting with Jumblatt (must read on Jumblatt) and Hamadeh? Those crazy Ay-rabs … Although to be fair, I would bet that he whispers something similar after meeting with Avigdor Liebermann.