Badna N’ish- Part I

As part of the “Badna N’ish” (we want to live) awareness campaign in support of the democratically elected government (and democratically elected governments under the Pax Syriana-Americana) I have decided to share Lebanese statistics from time to time. This is the first installment. Enjoy.

  • Only 12.7% of government expenditure (or 2.6% of GDP) goes to education, compared to 20% in Djibouti,  Morocco, Oman, and UAE.
  • Only 10% of Lebanese pre-primary teachers have received training. This is the same number as in Sudan and Tunisia, whereas in Syria it is 22%. In contrast, all pre-primary teachers in Iraq, Kuwait, Mauritania, Oman, and the Palestinian territories have received pedagogical training.
  • Only 13% of Lebanese primary teachers have received training, compared to 61% in UAE, 98% in Algeria, 100% in Iraq, Kuwait, Mauritania, and Oman.
  • Grade repetition in primary education in Lebanon is 11% of the total number of enrolled students in that level, on par with Algeria, Djibouti, Mauritania, and Morocco.
  • The percentage of enrolment in primary education in Lebanon dropped 1% between 1999 and 2004, whereas in most other countries the percentage increased by more than 5%.
  • 5% of Lebanese primary school age children are out of school.

Don’t shoot the messenger. My source is the UNESCO.

Anarchists Against the Wall

You’ve probably heard of the recent action carried out by Anarchists Against the Wall in Tel Aviv; at first glance, I was quite impressed. On inquiring further about the action, I discovered that it wasn’t quite what it looked like, at least not the impression one gets when one hears of the name “Anarchists Against the Wall”. Many of my readers will – I am sure – criticize my criticism of the group, because at least they are doing something. However, that they are doing something does not grant them a criticism-free status.

One would’ve thought that the Anarchists Against the Wall would have adopted a terminology distinct from the dominant nationalist discourse; in this context, my criticism does not deal with their actions, but with their stated objectives, which are as follows (emphasis mine):

The action was carried to remind the people of Tel Aviv of the everyday hardships of Palestinians, resulting from Israel’s apartheid policies and conduct in the Occupied Territories and from the occupation itself. The activists urged Israelis to take responsibility for what is being done in their names, and to force an end to Israeli occupation.

First, let us say that in referring to the “Occupied Territories” they were merely adopting an internationally accepted term to refer to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and not necessarily endorsing the idea that the only occupied territories are the 1967 territories. However, upon closer inspection, one will notice that this is not what they meant. Clearly, their usage of the term “occupation” refers to the 1967 territories only. But what happened to the 1948 territories which were occupied – yes, occupied – and mostly ethnically cleansed of Palestinians? That is not only not a priority for Anarchists Against the Wall, it is also unthinkable.

Make no mistake, this is what they say in the “about” section of the website, in response to the question “why we resist” (again, emphasis mine):

It is the duty of Israeli citizens to resist immoral policies and actions carried out in out name. We believe that it is possible to do more than demonstrate inside Israel or participate in humanitarian relief actions. Israeli apartheid and occupation isn’t going to end by itself – it will end when it becomes ungovernable and unmanageable. It is time to physically oppose the bulldozers, the army and the occupation.

Other than that, their actions are quite impressive. I do hope that in due time the Anarchists Against the Wall will also advocate the return of the refugees, and not fall into the trap of “demographic” discourse. Perhaps someone from the AATW could clarify the movement’s views on this issue (I am assuming they are not a hierarchical organization, so individuals can speak their personal opinions even as “members” of this movement).

Gandhi, Palestine, and Violent Resistance

I apologize I have been unable to post much lately due to shortage of time and a very busy schedule, but I have decided to post an excerpt from George Orwell’s essay “Reflections on Gandhi”, which is quite relevant to the question of Palestine and the violent resistance vs. non-violent disobedience debate; I will attempt to post my thoughts on this issue later. Until then, I leave you with this:

In his early days Gandhi served as a stretcher-bearer on the British side in the Boer War, and he was prepared to do the same again in the war of 1914-18. Even after he had completely abjured violence he was honest enough to see that in war it is usually necessary to take sides. He did not–indeed, since his whole political life centred round a struggle for national independence, he could not–take the sterile and dishonest line of pretending that in every war both sides are exactly the same and it makes no difference who wins. Nor did he, like most Western pacifists, specialize in avoiding awkward questions. In relation to the late war, one question that every pacifist had a clear obligation to answer was: “What about the Jews? Are you prepared to see them exterminated? If not, how do you propose to save them without resorting to war?” I must say that I have never heard, from any Western pacifist, an honest answer to this question, though I have heard plenty of evasions, usually of the “you’re another” type. But it so happens that Gandhi was asked a somewhat similar question in 1938 and that his answer is on record in Mr. Louis Fischer’s GANDHI AND STALIN. According to Mr. Fischer, Gandhi’s view was that the German Jews ought to commit collective suicide, which “would have aroused the world and the people of Germany to Hitler’s violence.” After the war he justified himself: the Jews had been killed anyway, and might as well have died significantly. One has the impression that this attitude staggered even so warm an admirer as Mr. Fischer, but Gandhi was merely being honest. If you are not prepared to take life, you must often be prepared for lives to be lost in some other way. When, in 1942, he urged non-violent resistance against a Japanese invasion, he was ready to admit that it might cost several million deaths.

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“Unity”

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Beirut, December 8, 2006

(Slight re-touching for removal of spots in upper left corner; reduced from original size)

“I myself have likened Lebanon to the lung through which the problems of the area breathe. Thus, Lebanon was not created to be a national home for its citizens but as a laboratory for international political experiments in the region. Lebanon is a listening post for monitoring all the political trends that exist in the Arab world at least, perhaps even in the Islamic world. It is this function, rather than aspirations for democracy, that explains the political freedom enjoyed by all parties and flags represented in Lebanon. The freedom facilitates the observation as well as the interference, with the experiment sometimes requiring the heating up of a conflict between groups or trends to see how such matters can be managed or played out.”

-ٍSayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah, May 1995

Seriously, how do they publish this stuff???

A Poem…

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متى يعلنون وفاة العرب؟

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أحاولُ منذ الطُفولةِ رسْمَ بلادٍ
تُسمّى – مجازا – بلادَ العَرَبْ
تُسامحُني إن كسرتُ زُجاجَ القمرْ
وتشكرُني إن كتبتُ قصيدةَ حبٍ
وتسمحُ لي أن أمارسَ فعْلَ الهوى
ككلّ العصافير فوق الشجرْ
أحاول رسم بلادٍ
تُعلّمني أن أكونَ على مستوى العشْقِ دوما
فأفرشَ تحتكِ ، صيفا ، عباءةَ حبي
وأعصرَ ثوبكِ عند هُطول المطرْ

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