Showing posts from 2008

Becoming a Religious Extremist in the United States, Embracing Moderation in Saudi Arabia

On Al Arabiya website there is an interview with a TV show host, Ahmad Al Shoukairy who recalled his extremism in the US being changed to moderate religiosity in Saudi Arabia.
He came to study in the United States and was not religious. He became religious in the United States and started praying in 1994.
He told the interviewer: "my religion started extreme...I used to argue with my mom and raise my voice because she trimmed her brows[ ultra conservatives think trimming brows is haram].” He said his religiosity began in the United States.
He abandoned extremism in Saudi Arabia. When he went back to Saudi Arabia, an Imam, Shaykh Adnan Al Zahrani, changed him and made him understand that” religion is not as narrow as he thought and there are other opinions.”

وتحدث الشقيري عن بعض نواحي حياته الشخصية المبكرة، معترفا أن "لحيته في مرحلة ما كانت طويلة"، مشيرا إلى أنه كان شديد البعد عن الدين ولم يكن يصلي، وفي عام 1994 بدأ الصلاة "ولكن بدأ تديني متطرفا.. أتشاجر مع أمي وأرفع صو…

From Southfield With Hate: Barbaric Attack not Enough, Michigan Attorney Calls Palestinians Cancer and Calls for Ethnic Cleansing of Gaza

The world is shocked at the barbarity of the Israeli attacks on Gaza.
There is no courage or honor in unleashing a huge killing machine on the besieged and almost defenseless Gazans.

But Israel does it any way.

The worshippers of hate and mayhem are never satisfied. It's not enough to besiege and murder in cold blood. To the lunatic fringe of Israel supporters, this is not enough. The Palestinians are dehumanized and called a cancer that Israel needs to exterminate. To the hateful faithful it is not enough to bomb Gaza, Gaza needs to be ethnically cleansed as well. The Arabs of Gaza are a "cancer."

Mission accomplished Meir Kahane- your American disciples are marching on.

When I read the hateful rhetoric of blogger Debbie Schlussel, the image of the five dead Palestinian young sisters killed by Israel "precision bombs" came to my mind. The image of the five dead sisters was broadcast and rebroadcast in the Arab media to advertise the human cost of Israel safety for …

Gaza: David vs. Goliath

Israel has unleashed its massive war machine on Gaza. After years of keeping the Gazans prisoners in the Gazan big prison, the Israelis are flexing their muscles on the impoverished and virtually defenseless Gazans. Israel is promising the Gazans more death and destruction.

The Arab and Muslim world is not amused. There is, predictably, more hate and outrage directed at Israel, the moderate Arab governments and at the West.

It's a classic David vs. Goliath. And Israel is Goliath with all the might, fury and lack of balance.

Israel is using excessive force to deal witht the Hamas group. Israel is flounting all international norms of decent behavior. The siege of Gaza resulted in massive human suffering for civilians- imposing on them collective punishment that only radicalizes them. Stopping shipments of food and medicine in no way harms Hamas. It is ordinary Gazans who are starved, denied medicine, and bombed by the most powerful military and the only nuclear power in the Middle East…

Brothers in Misery: Muslim and Jewish Charities

2007 has not been a good year for charities. With the economic downturns, charities across the board are getting hit with decreasing donations.

Two types of charities stand out for losses- American Muslim and American Jewish charities. They both end the year with major losses.

Granted, Muslim charity pales in comparison to Jewish charity. Jewish charity totals in the billions, the combined budged of all Muslim NGOs and charities is probably less than 50 million dollars. All the big deal made about American Muslim charities misrepresents the reality of their being bit players in the charity business.

But despite being bit players, they brought the best in people- their small budgets made a huge difference in Gaza, Pakistan and Afghanistan where a dollar goes a long way. I have seen the Muslim working poor giving a single dollar and 5 dollar bill to help alleviate suffering overseas.

Unfortunately, this hard earned money got either frozen or got subjected to unrelated lawsuits- or spent on …

Afghanistan War

Charile Wilson's War the book by George Crile should be a must read. The movie version is excellent.

An interview with the author is below.

Mutaa and Other Nontraditional Islamic Marriages

The Mutaa, Misyar, and Urfi marriages are becoming more common arrangements in the Muslim world. These arrangements pose legal and social challenges that different societies are developing different strategies to cope with. I am not aware of studies that examine these forms practice in the United States. There is anecdotal evidence that they are being practiced. In Sex and Reason, Judge Richard Posner mentioned in passing Islamic practices such as the Mutaa and polygamous marriages and I am not aware of extensive legal studies of Muslim practices in America.

While I am not aware of legal cases making arguments for the validity of these arrangements as marriages in a court of law, it does not seem that any of them would qualify as marriages in the common American law understanding of a legal marriage.
Family law is a matter of state law. This is a reason cousins can marry each other in some states but not in others. The age of consent for sexual activity and marriage is different to fro…

TPS for Iraq

In an article in the Free press by Niraj Warikoo, "Top Chaldean says US efforts in Iraq fall short- people need better security," Iraqi Cardinal Delly states: "The occupying powers could do a lot more to help bring about peace, reconciliation and security,""We are puzzled as to why they have not done more to bring about peace and security in Iraq." Cardinal Delly described the post invasion reality in Iraq as "The absolute worst time that I've seen in my life has been the last five years." He added that "There is a complete breakdown of security and "that about 40% of Iraq's 1.25 million Christians have fled the country during the past five years, but he said that Christianity will continue to survive in Iraq.

Cardinal Delly said "there is no official persecution" from the Iraqi government, but that the attacks against Christians come from "individuals in the country who are antagonistic."
A number of Iraqis w…

CAIR: Unequivocal Condemnation of Terror and Clear Support for American Muslim Integration

Terror has struck India and the suspects seem to be radical and violent Islamists. In response to the terror attacks, CAIR executive director, Nihad Awad, stated in CAIR's press release: “We condemn these cowardly attacks and demand that all hostages taken by the attackers be released immediately and unconditionally. We offer sincere condolences to the loved ones of those killed or injured in these senseless and inexcusable acts of violence against innocent civilians. American Muslims stand with our fellow citizens of all faiths in repudiating acts of terror wherever they take place and whomever they target.”

This is a clear and unequivocal condemnation of terror that reminded me of a conversation with a former longtime FBI agent. The former agent told me that the people at CAIR "don't get it.," they condemn terror and in the same press release they mention political issues or disputes and link the two together. He added that this linkage in the context of condemnatio…

Is that a Bomb in your laptop or Bad Speech? Laptop Searches at the Border

I am attending an international conference in Washington, DC this week. I received an email containing this alert: “There is recent controversy regarding the search and seizure of laptops… by border and customs agents for people entering the US from abroad. This applies to US citizens and non-citizens. Agents seem able to make arbitrary seizures of laptops and these devices for indefinite periods of time based upon any criteria they choose…What does this mean? It is recommended that all laptop data be backed up in a secure location before you travel. Further, sensitive research data should be encrypted, and references to research participants should be encoded in such a way as not to identify or harm them. Consider the practical aspects of having your laptop seized at the border. What will you do if your laptop is seized and kept for an indefinite period of time (days, weeks, or even months)?”
Another email that I have seen on this issue is from an attorney concerned about traveling to…

Obama's Rahm

The appointment of Congressman Rahm Emanuel as President Elect Obama’s chief of staff made headlines in the Arab media. His Israeli roots were emphasized and his service in a civilian capacity in Israel during the first Iraq war was noted. This raises the issue of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Obama and Mr. Emanuel, as to the Arab-Israeli conflict, deserve the benefit of the doubt.

In an interview in the weekend November 8-9 Wall Street Journal Mr. Emanuel told Mr. Jason L. Riley

“I think the country is incredibly pragmatic” “Pragmatic and progressive. But you still have to mix and match different objectives. You have to be flexible.” “I don’t think the country is yearning for an ideological answer.”

When speaking about policy change, he did not mention the Arab-Israeli politics. The elections, he noted, provided “clear directions” to change health policy and energy policy. On energy- “to change an energy policy that has been exporting $700 billion of our wealth to countries overseas.”


Ralph Nader Owes America an Apology

Ralph Nader is a remarkable activist and citizen.

His impact on American life is tremendously good. As an Arab American, I am proud of his achievements.

Yesterday, however was not good.

While America was celebrating this historic moment, Nader made a racially insensitive remark about President Elect Barak Obama, saying that President Obama should not be an Uncle Tom.

Nader does not have a racist cell in his body. No one can doubt this fact. The Uncle Tom comment was just unbelievable in its insenstivity and harshness given that day.

That was a terrible offense. At a time of historic moment, when especially Black Americans are overjoyed by Obama's achievement, to have Nader make that remark was appalling and infuriating.

He rained on America's parade and gave the impression that he is a sore loser who is hating.

Ralph Nader should apologise.

Free Speech and Self Censorship: Arab Americans in the Street and in the Classroom

On 10/28/08,the London- based Asharq al Alwsat newspaper published a report on the US elections. The reporter, Raghida Bahnam, interviewed a number of Michigan Arab Americans for the story: "Arab Americans Strongly Support Obama…Hope he will understand their Concerns." The story emphasized how Arab Americans are excited about Obama's candidacy. One interviewee told her that he wants to vote for Obama because Obama is Black and as a Black American he would understand the fears and concerns of other minorities such as Arab Americans.
It was a good report but what concerned me in the story was the response of a man named Hassan. Hassan told the reporter that he is not interested in politics, that though he lives in the US, he does not get involved in politics. He said after 9/11 and the passage of the Patriot Act, there is no longer freedom of speech and we can't speak freely or we get dragged for questioning and get thrown in jail for no reason. ..I don't discuss …

The Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon: Victims of Legal and Social Discrimination

What do the famous singer Majida Al Rumi, Fatah commander Sultan Abu Al Aineen and Hanan Ashrawi have in common? They are Palestinians but have key differences. Majida al Rumi is the child of a naturalized Palestinian refugee and has become a major singer who sings patriotic Lebanese songs. Sultan Abu Al Aineen is a Fatah commander and a Palestinian refugee residing in Lebanon. Hanan Ashrawi is a Palestinian from the West Bank and Gaza and a member of the Palestinian parliament.
Hanan Ashrawi lives under occupation and has lived under occupation since 1967 when Israel occupied and began the process of colonization of the West Bank and Gaza. Majida Al Rumi is a well off and accepted Lebanese citizen who makes a good living singing classic music and patriotic Lebanese songs. Sultan Abu Al Aineen is a Palestinian refugee denied of the most basic of human rights in the democratic republic of Lebanon.
An estimated 400,000 Palestinian refugees live in Lebanon. They live in a number of refugee…

Coptic Priest Zakaria Botros: Holy War of Words

Driving from Ann Arbor today, I felt like listening to the ethnic programming radio station 690 AM.
It happened that an Egyptian Coptic priest I read about in the Arab American News, Zakaria Botros, was speaking about Islam. I listened to the whole show. He brings up controversial topics on Islam, from Islamic texts, to argue that Islam is a false religion and that (Coptic Orthodox) Christianity is the one true faith. After poking fun at their faith with his Egyptian humor and demeanor that is ideally fit for entertaining, he invites his Muslim listeners, to embrace Christianity!
In his demeanor and self righteousness he has no air of doubt about the supremacy of his faith. He reminded me of another Egyptian that mixes humor, promotion of one's faith and ridicule and attack of others' faith- the Egyptian Al Qaeda # 2 terrorist Ayman Al Zawahiri when he goes on rants against Christianity and the West.
What Zawahiri (who is a medical doctor by training) and the priest have in commo…

The Criminal Attorney and the Blogger: You Call that Evidence?

The blogosphere is the wild west of journalism. Anyone can have a blog. Barriers to entry are almost nonexistent. There is no editor to do any kind of quality control. This is good and bad.

It's good because it allows an unfettered exchange of ideas. It can be bad because it's easy to unfairly focus negative attention on a cause, a person, or a group, making allegations that sully reputations. If no other evidence to the contrary is out there, the negative information end up defining a cause, a person or a group.

In the balance between freedom of speech and reputation, freedom of speech trumps in the US- unlike for example, in the UK. Therefore, legal recourse is very hard.

The other day a friend of mine involved in a high- profile case told me that his lawyer approached him with a stack of printouts from a blogger's site. This blogger is known for being a rabid Islamophobe and a zealous Zionist to the right of Ariel Sharon. She has no credibility and her mental fitness is se…

Shaykh Safar Needs a State to Humiliate the People of Falsehood

The relationship between state and Mosque is one of the hottest topics in the world today.

The Islamists across the board believe in a role for Islam in government though they disagree on the details. But the concept of citizenship and the modern state is absent from at least some of the discourse, if not most of it.

Shaykh Fadel al Safar, a professor of Islamic law in Iraq, wrote a book on the subject entitled the Jurisprudence of government in Islam. He starts the book with a wish and a prayer. The wish is for an Islamic state.

But the prayer--This is not a prayer for the end of hunger, corruption, and torture and death squads -God forbid.

Instead he starts his worthy book by asking God for a State that honors Islam and its followers and humiliates falsehood and its followers…

A state is for all its citizens. Not Mr. Safar's. It’s a state that is used to "humiliate the other." The other is anyone who does not belong to the privileged faith group.

This is one of the reasons w…

Suha Bishara: on Palestine and Sunni-Shia Tensions

The late PA leader Yasser Arafat once answered a question about his governance of the Palestinians by telling The New York Times, give me the Swiss to rule and I will rule like Switzerland does.

It seems he was onto something. Switzerland does have a good influence on people.
Leave it to a woman, a Christian, a communist Lebanese, married to a Swiss and living in Switzerland, to speak freely and clearly about Lebanon- in particular about the Palestinians and about Sunni-Shia tensions.

On Palestine:

On the occasion of the release of the Lebanese prisoners from Israel in an exchange between Hizbullah and Israel, the Lebanese daily al- Safir interviewed Suha Bishara. Many years ago-Suha Bishara tried to assassinate Antoine Lahd, the head of the Lebanese militia set up by Israel to guard its Northern border-- the South Lebanon army. Suha Bishara was part of the secular national and leftist resistance movement that was fighting Israel before the Syrians colluded with Iran and its Islamists to …

Lebanon War Memoir: Cobra's book

A controversial book on the Lebanon war from the Christian militias' experience as told by a former militia man is posted online.

When Not to Sue the Bastards?

Why Do Bigots Defame Arabs and Muslims and Get Away with It?

It is often said that the US is a highly litigious society. Individuals are suing and being sued at a rate that surprises many people- the US has way more lawsuits than China, for example.

Sue the bastards. It's a classic response that a person that is wronged hears. However, many times suing is not the best way of dealing with a problem. One of the areas where suing might not be the best way to go is in cases of defamation of a "public figure"- a celebrity, a politician or even anyone who injects themselves in the "public eye."

Take the case of a number of Arab and Muslim leaders that are being targeted by American bigots. Arab and Muslim personalities involved in public affairs find that the American bigots are targeting them with a campaign of organized libel (written defamation) and slander (spoken defamation). The labels are terrorist, terrorist sympathizer, former terrorist, terrorist apolog…

The Wall Street Journal Matchmaker Cabbie Story

The media can fairly represent Arabs and Muslims in the US when they cover them as ordinary people-and sometimes extraordinary people.

Stories about bad Arabs and bad Muslims, even when true, help perpetuate biases and prejudices when not balanced by the overwhelming other reality- the non- terror or foreign policy reality.

One story of the other reality is in the weekend Wall Street Journal of June 5-6, 2008, the Fourth of July weekend, about an Egyptian cab driver who plays matchmaker in Manhattan.
"These Singles Just Wanted a Taxi, But Mr. Ibrahim Drove Them to' I Do'" by Jane Spencer.

The Jerusalem attack and the Failure of Hamas

Today a Palestinian from Jerusalem used a bulldozer to run over a number of cars and people in West Jerusalem area.

Two died and a number of people were injured.

This was a classic act of terrorism. Indiscriminate violence against noncombatants. A despicable crime. No nuancing needed.

I watched a Hamas spokesperson on Aljazeera speaking from Gaza say that this attack is "understandable."


It 's impossible for the Palestinians to achieve an independent state without the support of fair minded Israelis and world public opinion. Condoning such terrorism is not only immoral- it is also foolish politically.

Hamas seems intent on keeping the label of a terrorist organization and ruling over an isolated and impoverished Gaza strip.

I can't recall how many times I heard and read that Islam does not condone indiscriminate attacks of this nature.

Regardless of the politics of the matter and the legitimate grievances of the wronged and occupied Palestinian people- pl…

Hassan Sabra Analysis of Lebanon events

Haykal's Monolgogues- Boring and Wrong

I am not one of those who listen to Mohamed Hasanyn Haykal's monologues on al Jazeera as if it is revealed truth of the sage of sages. I tried to listen for more than ten painful minutes and failed miserably. My graduate education had me sit through many many lectures- some quite boring. Haykal gets the cake with his boring run on sentences and monotnous monologues.

The man, however, is considered one of the best analysts in the Middle East. This is understandable if his competition is the Baath and Thawra newspapers- papers that are only good to wrap street vendors goods.

I think this reputation is a legacy of the dismal history of Arab media. However, the internet and satellite tv changed the rules of the game creating what one scholar called Arab Public Space. The quantity and quality available now makes Haykal's analysis pale in comparison.

The worst analysis he provided- according to Hassan Sabra of Lebanese weekly Al Shiraa- is on the May 2008 conflict in Lebanon. It's …

Lebanon's Divided Public Opinion

Pew Global Attitudes Project titles its report on Lebanon "Lebanon's Precarious Politics
Many of the Country's Sectarian Differences Do Not Run along a Straight Muslim-Christian Fault Line" -November 15, 2007.

The Precarious Republic is a title of a book by Michael Hudson that was written before the breakout of the civil war in Lebanon. The book pointed out the weaknesses of the Lebanese consociational political system and its increasing stresses, due to internal and external pressures, that made him call Lebanon a "precarious republic."

Today Lebanon is divided on issues of importance- perceptions of itself and regional and international powers.

On favorable views of foreign powers, PEW reports:

Christians: 82 % favorable views of the US- 14% favorable views of Iran

Sunnis 52%- 8%

Shia- 7%-86%

The most remarkable of these are the favorable views of the US held by Lebanese Sunnis- 52%. The Iraq war, the Palestine conflict and the war on terrorism made the US have a…

Sex, the City and Dearborn Arab Women

I went to the movies with my wife. I wanted to see "You Don't Mess with the Zohan," my wife wanted to watch Sex and the City.

Sex and the City turned out to be as good as she expected. My wife and I spent three of our precious free time to watch this movie. Once you have children, their needs make it almost impossible to have free time.

One scene in the movie reminded me of Dearborn Arab women.

Carrie was about to move in with her boyfriend. She expressed anxiety that the place she would call home, in the event of a falling out she would have no legal rights to.

Then they decide to get married.

As an attorney who practices family law, I have come across a number of Arab Muslim women who put themselves in a situation that Carrie wanted to avoid.

A number of local couples opt to have a religious marriage but not a civil marriage. (This is a phenomenon worthy of a systematic study).

They go to an Imam who marries them, does Katb al Kitab for them.

Imams, as well as other clergy, h…

Advice for Muslim Women: The Maid or the Partner?

Today three entries in the Islamist website Islam Memo in the "Happy home" section show why the Islamists raise serious concerns about gender equity and gender equality.

The three entries are:

"If you do not take care of your husband, he will find someone else who will"

"clean house= happy home"

"obedience and marital happiness."

Sounds like a wife is considered a maid and not a partner.

The Imam, the Danish Cartoons and Piss Christ

In today's Al Arabiya website there is a news item on the suicide bombing against the Danish embassy in Islamabad.

The PM of Denmark called it an "unjustified attack."

The Danish Deputy PM called it "an attack on Denmark and the values it defends."

The Muslim League denounced it as an act of "violence and terrorism."

The Aljazeera Arabic news channel reported on this issue interviewing Pakistanis on the subject. The interviewees basically said that "Denmark is to blame for publishing the insulting cartoons and then for not apologizing for them."

Going over the comments' section in Al Arabiya website, a number of commenters said that the Danish deserve it for "insulting the prophet," others said that it is wrong to use violence. Some blamed Israel and the US for the bombing. One commenters accused Denmark of bombing its own embassy so that the Muslims are placed in the position of apologizing to Denmark instead of the opposite.

Most v…

The Merkava and the Fulbright Scholar: The Israel "security" sham

In Today's Wall Street Journal "What's News" an item on Palestine reads:

"The White house predicted Israel will relent on its decision to deny visas to Gazan recipients of Fulbright scholarships."

This is irrefutable evidence of the irrationality and vindictiveness of the Israeli government in its dealing with the Palestinians.

Denying the visas to the Fulbright scholars is further evidence that Israel takes measures against Palestine under the pretext of security when in fact these measures are taken out of a sense of entitlement, colonial supremacy, fear of international scrutiny and transparency.

The "security" sham must not be allowed to continue.

Tolerant Nasrallah, Intolerant Malkin: It's More than a Garment Thing

McCain's daughter is pictured wearing a scarf that looks like the Arab scarf, the Kaffieh.

Rachel Ray wearing the same scarf in a Dunkin Donuts commercial led to pressure from right wingers. This pressure resulted in Dunkin Donuts withdrawing this commercial. Too bad. Ms Ray looked great in the scarf.

But Dunkin Donuts did not want to deal with the controversy and Rachel Ray did not need the headache of a tiny minority of zealots using the web to call her "Jihadist Sympathizer" among other things.

Thousands of miles away, Hizbullah held a rally in Beirut.

The news item of the event had a picture of a young woman, dressed in Jeans and T shirt, holding Sayed Nasrallah's picture. This young woman looked like any average young woman in a Western city.

As any visitor to the areas dominated by the Hizbullah finds great diversity in dress from the ultra conservative chador to the tight Jeans and T- shirt. Unlike the Taliban, the Islamists of Hizbullah, surprisingly but smartly, …

The Sunni- Shia Fitna: Two Fatwas-Shaykh Naim Qasim's and Shaykh Mawlawi's

Is there a Sunni Shia Fitna in Lebanon or not? It's good to know. Because if there is one, it should be dealt with before it festers and grows out of hand into something real ugly like what happened in Iraq.

MP Saad Hariri stated that the Fitna has happened due to the violations and trauma of May 7 events.

These comments have been faced with cynicism by the Hizbullah and its allies. Since MP Shaykh Saad Hariri and the 14th of March group are allied with the US- the charge is that it is the US (with its junior team member Israel), the convenient suspect for ALL Arab and Muslim ills, that is pushing for an alleged "Shia- Sunni Fitna."

The claim is that the US wants this Fitna and that its allies and friends are "shamelessly irresponsibly" etc. promoting this idea.

However, today in al Safir the leader of a Muslim Brotherhood group, al Jamaa al Islamiya, (which has the [bad] habit of other Islamists, that it blaming the US for everything and not giving it credit for a…

Palestine Supporters and the State of Palestine

Where is the support for a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza among Arab Americans, Muslims Americans and their friends?

Where are the massive grassroots campaigns to create a momentum for a Palestinian state?

From Madrid to Oslo- the formula agreed on is land for peace, as to Palestine- a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza.

This is the Palestine struggle today.

The real struggle today is the creation of a state in the West Bank and Gaza.

The Arabs, Muslims, Palestinians, their friends and supporters, need to keep the goal of a Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza, with Jerusalem as its capital, the center of their efforts.

But this is not the case.

There is too much energy spent on the Nakba and the issue of the refugees. These are core issues and should be focused on. However, the issue of a state on the West Bank and Gaza should be the centerpiece of action of the pro- Palestinian groups, Arab and non- Arab, Muslims and non Muslims.

Look at the events supporting …

It's "a Kind of" Apartheid- Haaretz & President Carter

In "Our debt to Jimmy Carter," The Israeli newspaper Haaretz editorializes on the Israeli debt to President Carter for the peace agreement with Israel writing in part:

"Israel is not ready for such comparisons [with South Africa], even though the situation begs it. It is doubtful whether it is possible to complain when an outside observer, especially a former U.S. president who is well versed in international affairs, sees in the system of separate roads for Jews and Arabs, the lack of freedom of movement, Israel's control over Palestinian lands and their confiscation, and especially the continued settlement activity, which contravenes all promises Israel made and signed, a matter that cannot be accepted. The interim political situation in the territories has crystallized into a kind of apartheid that has been ongoing for 40 years. In Europe there is talk of the establishment of a binational state in order to overcome this anomaly. In the peace agreement with Egypt, …

President Michele Suleiman : "Defensive National Strategy" and "Syria Diplomatic Relations"

It's official.

Army Commander Michele Suleiman is the President of the Republic.

In his acceptance speech, he emphasized the need for "diplomatic relations "with Syria and for a "national defense strategy."

This is remarkable.

These two echo the demands of the 14th of March coalition.

President Suleiman called for a "calm dialogue" on the issue of the weapons of Hizbullah in order to develop a "national defense strategy."

In effect, this is what MP Jumblatt has been saying- a "defensive" strategy (not offensive) where Hizbullah does not solely have the country's war decision.


This is an auspicious beginning for the Presidency of Mr. Suleiman.

The impressive turnout of Arab and other dignitaries means that the days of Lebanon being monopolized by one medium power are gone.

The future of Lebanon is an Arab and international responsibility.

Hope the events of May 7 never happen again.

King Solomon and Splitting the Baby

Al Arabiya TV has a program on Palestine.

In this program Arabs and Jews are interviewed about the 1948 war and its aftermath. At one point, the interviewer, to illustrate the refusal of the Palestinians to accept the UN partition plan, asked a Jewish Israeli if he knew the story of King Solomon and the two competing claims for a baby.

The Jewish interviewee says yes. He told the traditional reading of the story. There is a more reasonable reading of the story.

As a judge facing competing claims for a baby, the common thinking is that King Solomon devised a plan to find out who the real mother is.

King Solomon proposed splitting the baby with the understanding that the real mother would not accept the splitting of the baby while the false mother would.

King Solomon, the story goes, figured out that the woman that accepted spliting the baby is not the real mother so he gave the baby to the other woman- the real mother.

A more reasonable reading of the story is that King Solomon took what we …

The Sunni and the Shia Urban Myths and the Challenge of Coexistence

The Sunnis and the Shia: Adventures in Medieval Thought in the age of SMS

After the misadventure of May 7, the question being asked is how can the tension between the Shia and the Sunnis be reduced in Lebanon and in the Arab and Muslim world.

It is going to be a very difficult job. Take Lebanon for example.

In Lebanon they embrace modernity- they love Western toys of all kinds.
In a nation of about 4 million people, there are more than one million cell phone lines. It seems that almost everyone has a cell phone and a satellite television access.

The internet is widely used with no censorship.
But education and modernity do not change medieval outlooks.

The Amal and Hizbullah supporters, for example, had to place their flags on the light poles in majority Sunni areas. The sight of these men gave their tribe members feelings of power over the Sunnis while the other tribe felt that the Shia are out to humiliate them.

That sight, to me, reminded me of Neil Armstrong's moon moment.

When Neil Ar…

Egypt's Mehdi Akif's Mujahid

The Islamists, including the Muslim Brotherhood, always criticize the US for not recognizing them and for distust of them (with the rare exception of the Turkish modern and democratic Islamists).

For example, the Palestinian Hamas always protests that the US is hypocritical for not recognizing them despite their gains in the Palestinian elections. They protest that the US as a believer and promoter of democracy should recognize them and engage them.

Voices from the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood have called for the US to pressure Mubarak’s government to ease the pressure on the Brotherhood.

The Arab Islamists also have protested that not all of them are terrorists and that the US and the West should deal with them as the up and coming force in the Arab and Muslim world after the nationalists and the secular groups have been allegedly discredited.

Today an interview in Elaph, (if the interviewer has been accurate and truthful), raises serious questions about the Brotherhood's position reg…

Jumblatt in Al Shiraa

See in Al Shiraa of this week Hassan Sabra's analysis of the role of MP Jumblatt in managing the crisis of May 7.

The Gains and the Losses of May 7 and the Doha Agreement

The May 7 2008 Hezbollah military misadventure in Sunni Beirut and the Muslim Druze Mountain and the Doha Agreement have handed the Saniora government and its allies major achievements.

Think of the reality before Doha.

The following is the reality of the political and economic stalemate that existed before the Doha agreement:

The Speaker of the Parliament, an ally of the Hezbollah had the parliament shut down thus making electing a President of the Republic impossible and precipitating the constitutional crisis of the vacancy in the top political position in the Republic.

Second, the Hezbollah and its allies erected about 1200 tents in the middle of downtown Beirut thus greatly suffocating the economic life in this economic and tourist hub and undermining investor confidence in Lebanon.

The Doha agreement has resulted in the decisions to reopen the parliament, and to elect the candidate nominated by the very same pro- government coalition, General Suleiman, as President of the Republic. T…

The Doha Lebanon Agreement: Many Winners and One Loser

The Doha success has winners and a loser.

MP Aoun emerges as the biggest loser.
He insisted on a “transitional government.”
He wanted so bad to become President and thought the juvenile but deadly move of the Lebanese Opposition would lead to his coronation over Lebanon. He comes back from Qatar a broken old man. Good. No President of the Republic title for him -he deserves the title the Don Quixote of Lebanese politics.

Lebanon will have a President and the Camp of shame in Downtown Beirut will be dismantled and the filth left cleaned by Sokleen. I was a witness to what the squatters in the tent city wrote on the walls of the beautiful downtown- filthy words from filthy dark minds and hands. The words and the filth should be pictured and documented so that we do not forget.

As to MP Saad Hariri the success in Qatar shows that militias and street people with guns are not the key to political participation and political influence. MP Saad Hariri emerges from Doha a modern leader with hands …

Holy Violence and Unholy Politics: Radical Islamists from Gaza to Beirut

The radical Islamist violence in Beirut, aided by a motley crew of has- been leftists, quasi fascists and nationalist groups, directed inwards, highlights the threat the radical Islamists pose to their own societies. Societies that have been sleeping while the radicals have been growing like wild and poisonous mushrooms on a spring lawn.

Despite their rhetoric that plays on legitimate national and economic frustrations, their goal is political power- unchecked- except by their own thoughts of what God really really wants.

Once in power, by ballot or by the gun, they would rule ruthlessly against others- just as their secular revolutionary predecessers communists did.

Some of yester year's communists have re-emerged, with the same old bearded face of leftist youth and folly, as radical Islamists. That seems odd but not really.

Both ideologies are rigid, absolutist, totalitarian and violence prone.

It’s disgusting the naïve and misguided support that they get from Western sources and a f…

Lebanon Vigil pictures

For pictures of the vigil held in Dearborn to protest the violence in Lebanon, check

Western Islam and the Jewish Experience

In Migrations and Cultures: A World View, Thomas Sowell writes about the great migrations- among them the Chinese (the largest diaspora in the world) and the Jews.

It is interesting that his arguments on the Jews, in many ways, apply to the Moslems in the US today- explaining why they are better off as a group in the US than they are in Western Europe.

Sowell writes:

“Where anti- Semitism was strongest and most implacable- Eastern Europe being again a prime example- Jews tended to be least assimilated in language or culture. Where acceptance was greater in Western Europe and their offshoot societies in North America and Australia-Jews tended much more to become culturally assimilated, citizens and patriots.”

Now about the Jews in the Muslim world, Sowell writes:

“Among the factors influencing the better treatment of Jews in Muslim lands during the early Middle Ages was that Jews were less conspicuous , or only one of a number of non-Moslem minorities in the Islamic world, while they stood …

Arab American News Report on Pro- Government Vigil in Dearborn

See below a report in the Arab American News on the Vigil held in Dearborn on Tuesday in support of the government of PM Fouad Saniora and against the violence there.

The reporter, Khalil AlHajal, wrote a balanced and thorough report. Kudos to him and the Arab American News for this fine reporting that is on par with reporting by any of the renowned national media:

Pro-government Lebanese demonstrate in Dearborn By Khalil AlHajal
- The Arab American NewsFriday, 05.16.2008, 02:25pm

Local supporters of both sides of the conflict weigh in on crisis in Lebanon

Dearborn — About 100 people gathered on the steps of City Hall here on Tuesday to protest violence in Lebanon over the past week that has left at least 65 dead and 200 wounded.
The protestors were supporters of the Lebanese government's ruling March 14 coalition, which has faced demands to step down from a Hizbullah-led opposition for the past…

Youtube Muslim Voters in the US- CNN clip

Hassan Sabra's "Second Invasion"

In this week's Al Shiraa, the Editor of the magazine Hassan Sabra analyses the new developments in Lebanon:

It's al Nakba, Just Like It's the Holocaust

The Israelis are mad that the UN Secretary General used the word al nakba.

Strange is the logic of the Israeli government.

The Palestinians were uprooted and transformed into refugees, their homes and land taken forcefully.

Palestinian heritage, many parts of it, is being stolen and called Jewish Israeli heritage. Even the Middle Eastern dish of Hummus they want to call it "Israeli dip."

1948 is the year of the Nakba/national catastrophe for the Palestinians.

This fact does not negate the need for a political solution to the conflict. This does not mean that peace is not achievable. This does not mean that the Palestinians are not ready for a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

The Israelis and their friends and supporters can celebrate all they want- and call the creation of Israel any and all they want- a miracle, the best thing to ever happen to humanity, etc.

But for the Palestinian people it was and is a catastrophe. For the refugees living in camps and for the occupied colon…

Debbie Schlussel: Lone soldier Pollard is better than Served her country with Honor Prouty

Kudos to the American legal system.

Today in the Free Press, reporter David Ashenfelter writes that the Judge in the case of ex-agent Nada Prouty “blasted [her] depiction as Hizbullah agent” by “one national media outlet.
Judge Avern Cohn stated that she had served her country with distinction in Iraq and imposed a minor fine on her.

On the other hand, Michigan’s resident Islamophobe and spy apologist, missing even an ounce of honesty or patriotism, has the gall of favorably comparing convicted spy Jonathan Pollard to Ms Prouty.

Ms Prouty violated her oath by making unauthorized inquiries in the FBI database. But-evidence was offered from other agents that she "repeatedly placed herself in harm's way and never compromised national security," the Free Press reported.

However, clearly Jonathan Pollard stole over one million classified documents and called himself a lone soldier for Israel in enemy territory [the nation of his birth and generous feeding, the USA].

Pollard is huge…