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Israel: The propaganda tour

A few months ago, PBS aired what it dubbed a documentary titled: “Israel: The Royal Tour.” It has been made available on DVD and is distributed around the country as an education tool for classrooms. When it comes to coverage of Israel in the US, you know what to expect but you never know the extent to which Israeli propaganda is going to be serviced in any particular project.

Insha’Allah

When I arrived at the gates I hunted for relatives as I fumbled with my bags. My uncle calls my name and my eyes strain to find him in a sea of people. Minutes later I leave the shapes of unknown travellers behind as we fall into an embrace. Soon I am sitting in the backseat of his car while my senses begin taking snapshots of all that surrounds me; sleep threatens to overwhelm my body but my eyes refuse to close.

Notes on practicality, normality and being healthy

We are killing everything in the name of practicality. I needed to buy myself a shirt today. The first place I thought of was a disaster that goes by the name of CityMall situated somewhere on the northern entrance of Beirut. The idea of strolling around in a regular shopping street didn’t even cross my mind until after I was standing along the dusty highway stocked with bags waiting for a bus to take me back into the city I’m helping demolish.

Americans in Yemen

In the US press, the story is clear: two armed Americans were innocently getting a haircut in a barber shop in Yemen when they suddenly shot two “armed” Yemeni civilians who they said were about to kidnap them. As is usual in such stories, US media merely copy the propaganda talking points of the US military-intelligence apparatus. Some US newspapers actually printed the account that was fed to them by US intelligence: that two armed Americans were simply getting a haircut in Yemen when they shot and killed two Yemeni “civilians”—who are armed, we are told, although the two Yemenis did not shoot at all.

You can’t - and won’t - erase our Nakba from your “independence”

The sounds of celebration have filled the air as the only “democracy” in the Middle East celebrates its so-called independence day. Elsewhere in occupied Palestine there is no such display of festivities. Instead of barbecues and aerial displays you will be met with a funeral cortège — a solemn procession of mourners bringing attention to what some have called Israel’s Columbus Day.

Roaming the streets of Beirut and Cairo

I recently came to the realization that no one will change their opinion on the nature(s) of God, but what I’m most interested in is our ability to understand our potential as individuals in relationship to the bigger picture. I’m interested in this ability to wonder beyond God: God as the almighty versus us as the almighty.

On legitimacy: BDS proponents vs “peace” talkers

It all began with a handshake on the White House lawn — a ‘historic’ American-led inauguration delivered in front of journalists readying mealy-mouthed press releases, and the watchful eye of US President Bill Clinton who was publicly inducting a misguided strategy which began to be known as the “peace process.” Before Clinton’s ‘Declaration of Principles’ there was Jimmy Carter's Camp David Agreement, George H.W. Bush's Madrid peace conference, then came Clinton’s Oslo Accords, George W. Bush's Road Map, and now President Obama's just as stagnant and almost desperate attempts to make something, anything, out of US peace efforts.

Mahmoud Abbas and the most heinous crime

There is something unpleasant about the sudden declaration by Mahmoud Abbas that the Holocaust was “the most heinous” crime against humanity in modern times. The announcement was suspicious not only in timing but also in its wording. Anyone who has watched Abbas speak English knows full well that “heinous” is not part of his very small vocabulary. Of course, Arab acknowledgement of the Holocaust and the understanding of Jewish suffering in the West throughout history (in which Arabs had no hand), can’t be unwelcomed. Knowledge of history and its facts is a humane obligation but the Palestinians should not be exclusively requested to recite facts of Jewish suffering when they were not the ones who afflicted suffering and atrocities on the Jewish people. If anything, the Palestinian problem can’t be solved through knowledge of history by either side but by changing of the actual political realities in the land of Palestine.

Diasporic longings

I.
The diaspora was my mother's water breaking —
It was a surgeon's clamp and my father's hands
nervously guiding a pair of scissors.

Doctors waded through and dissected every syllable of name,
as my head rested in my mother’s arms
while my father whispered surah al-Fatiha* in my ear.

II.
My parents fed me stories of al-Dahiyeh,
they clothed me in south Lebanon
and lulled me to sleep with the perfume of my grandmother's garden
while she hummed songs on the balcony —
the sun dancing across her tongue.

My childhood is written across every line in my mother’s face

Occupying abandoned buildings: Thinking outside the brackets of purchased squared meters

We have a lot of buildings in Beirut. We have more than we need, yet we build more while completely disregarding abandoned buildings that, if used, could revitalize our relationship with our built environment.

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