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The Left and Islamophobia: Remarks About Michael Walzer’s Essay in Dissent Magazine

There is so much to say about the crime against Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical newspaper, AND the ensuing affair. Much has been said already, and protests were held, and pens were brandished all over the world. One of the more curious reactions can be found in an article in Dissent magazine by Michael Walzer, in which he reproaches the left for failing to take on Islamic fundamentalism or radicalism or whatever people call it (the official danger in France is now labeled “radical Islam,” provided that radical Islam does not have oil and gas wealth to buy arms from the French government).

Daring to dream about Beirut’s ‘Dream Palace’

A couple of weeks ago, I picked up ‘Inside the Dream Palace,’ a book by Sherill Tippins on the life and death of New York City’s Chelsea Hotel. I had never heard of the hotel, but the delicious back cover description promised a detailed narrative touching on sociology’s influence on architecture, architecture’s effect on people and people’s impact on their city.

Addressing Hezbollah’s “corruption”

There is always a story or an angle about Hezbollah that gets the attention, first, of the Saudi media, and then consequently of the Western media. Readers of Arabic are struck by how the themes, stories, and perspectives of the Saudi/Hariri media invariably become the stories of the Beirut correspondents of US (and to a lesser degree, French and British) media. The Hariri assassination story always originated from rumors and leaks in the Saudi royal yellow press, and was regurgitated by the Western media’s Beirut correspondents.

In the new year, let’s resolve to be a generation unafraid to dream

With a slight jolt, the metro stopped and the speakers exclaimed, “Clemenceau” in a very firm French pronunciation unlike the “Klimansoh” we scream to our local taxi/service drivers in Beirut. The metro doors slid open, and the people on the outside waited politely for the people inside to come out before entering the metro car – a long beep, and the doors close. The metro moves, and then stops, “Concorde!” exclaim the speakers in the same tone.

Henry Kissinger’s world view of the Middle East

In his new book “World Order,” Henry Kissinger reveals the extent to which classical Orientalism lives on the mindset and worldviews of thinkers, writers, journalists, and scholars. New scholarship on the Middle East hold little sway in comparison to the classical Orientalist literature which validates the worst impressions and misconceptions about Arabs and Muslims. In Kissinger’s new book, in the section dealing with the Middle East he seems totally indebted to the writings of Majid Khadduri.

Learning to maneuver a public body before sharing a public garden

Discussing public spaces is an important duty, for it is a direct indication of our identity. These spaces, which allow us to commune and demand from us that we collaborate to sustain them, are more important than the towers that make us look glittery in photos taken of this city from the sea. For some, this reality is hard to accept. A monument in Beirut is much easier to valuate and boast in social and political agendas than a bench, but a bench is what we really need. What we need is to be able to share a bench comfortably. This should be our baptism into becoming Beirutis. And while the lack of public spaces is at the forefront of urban debates, how we act in public is what actually matters.

The end of electoral appeal in the Arab world

For too long, the totem of elections was sold to the people in the Middle East—those who live outside the pro-US tyrannical regimes in particular. In the decades of the Cold War, the whole premise of the US position was the belief in the moral and political superiority of the West vis-à-vis the Soviet Union due to the holding of regular and frequent elections. Yet, the American electoral system is probably one of the worst, corrupt model of democracies, not only due to the influence of big money ($4 billion in the last election cycle alone) but also due to the elitist Electoral College and the rigid rejection of proportional representation in order to preserve the two party dominance. The preservation of the first-past-the-post electoral system winds up wasting millions of votes, and renders all third parties insignificant and irrelevant.

Spirit of ‘Ubuntu’ called for at World Social Forum on Migration

The 6th edition of the World Social Forum on Migration (WSFM), the very first on the African continent, took place earlier this month in Johannesburg, South Africa and featured a number of seminars which centered around this year’s theme – Migration in the Heart of our Humanity: Defending our freedom and re-thinking mobility, development and globalization. The use of the word “our” is telling as it reinforces the unified motif that follows South Africa’s historic designation as the ‘Rainbow Nation,’ “at peace with itself, and the world,” as Nelson Mandela would proclaim during his 1994 inauguration speech.

Hakuna Matata: It means ‘Eat Falafel’

To be fair, ‘Hakuna Matata’ is Swahili for ‘There are no worries,’ which is Lebanese for the feeling you get while eating Falafel. It’s an amazingly crunchy vegan, gluten-free sensation that is usually prepared by a very funny man behind a colorful counter of vegetables, pickles and tacky ornamentation. The walls of a falafel shop are exhibition spaces for faded pictures of different types of faded glory. You see the funny man’s serious father framed next to downtown Beirut when it was an actual downtown. In equally flashy frames, you see the funny man pictured next to a fat, happy politician and subsequent headlines in local newspapers in others.

Arab world’s reactions to the CIA torture scandal

The Arab world has reacted to the CIA torture scandal in two ways: 1) the regimes were completely silent. Neither the Syrian regime (the only regime that now stands in opposition to the Saudi-US regional order) nor the members of the Saudi-led coalition reacted to the scandal. The Iranian Supreme leader issued a strong denunciation of the US government while the new Afghan president disingenuously feigned “shock” as if he never heard inside of his country of the various war crimes committed by US troops and contractors. 2) At the popular level, there was close attention paid on social media and many circulated the various links to the full text of the report as well as to the analysis of the scandal from American and European media.

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