Thursday, July 31, 2008
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Monday, July 28, 2008
Sunday, July 27, 2008
"In the July 21 Bee ("Lebanese line up to praise freed killer and symbol of resistance," Page A-6), your reporter most of the time referred to the freed Lebanese prisoner, Samir Kantar, as a "killer," thus accepting the Israeli point of view that he killed an Israeli child, rather than Kantar's claim that the child died during a shootout with Israeli commandos. Now, if your reporter was a commentator, I would not have had any problem with that, though I would still have opposed this point of view. But your reporter is supposed to be neutral and not take sides. A reporter's duty is to try to be objective. Thus, your reporter could have said "the alleged killer," or a similar phrase which would convey the fact that there are two versions of the events. I denounce this lack of objectivity. Without doubt, in the Israeli-Arab conflict, both sides have committed atrocities, and the Western media have mostly accepted the Israeli version of events as "truth," not expressing any sympathy toward the victims of Israeli aggression against Arab civilians. I remember clearly the picture of a car smashed under an invading Israeli tank, with a Lebanese family of five within it. This is not to justify acts of brutality against Israeli civilians. It is only after we accept the humanity of both sides and denounce violence committed by both sides that we can expect peace to take hold.
MR. GALLEGOS: Yeah. My understanding is that he is yet to publish a report. There are stories about drafts that have been released. The bottom line is the general has been there. He’s taken a look at the situation. He has the full support of the Secretary. We’re going to continue working through him and with him and we’ll see – ultimately see what is published.
QUESTION: Does the President have a decision made on whether the full report will be published and public?
MR. GALLEGOS: I don’t have any information on that (inaudible).
QUESTION: Is that under discussion at the moment?
MR. GALLEGOS: I’ll have to check. I don’t have anything on that.
QUESTION: Does the State Department have a position on whether it should be?
MR. GALLEGOS: I’ll have to check. " (thanks Enrique)
Isn’t it a strand of Islam, founded by Muhammad? I know people think this, because they have looked in the nearest reference book, but the thing is Sufism has always had adherents from all faiths or none.
As a longtime resident of London, what do you make of the growing Islamic presence in Europe? I don’t go on and on about it, like our two knights.
You mean Martin Amis? And who else? The other one who never stops going on about Islam. Christopher Hitchens. I don’t want to add any nasty poison to this brew. It’s nasty enough as it is, so let’s leave it."
I just have one question about the questions by Deborah Solomon. What would happen to an American reporter's career if she/he were to ask a person about "the growing Jewish presence in country X"?
Saturday, July 26, 2008
"Zoriah Miller, the photographer who took images of marines killed in a June 26 suicide attack and posted them on his Web site, was subsequently forbidden to work in Marine Corps-controlled areas of the country. Maj. Gen. John Kelly, the Marine commander in Iraq, is now seeking to have Mr. Miller barred from all United States military facilities throughout the world. Mr. Miller has since left Iraq."
Friday, July 25, 2008
"I wonder why Iraqi cuisine is not more sophisticated," he said. "It is essentially peasant food, which I happen to love because it fits my palate perfectly. But intellectually, you wonder why, with all of its influences, the food isn't more complex."
Feeling somewhat disturbed by the article and its problematic Orientalist and naive representation of Iraqi cuisine, I chose to write the following short letter to the editor, fitting their word-limit requirement: To the editor,
I find your article "A Bit of Old Baghdad With a Western Twist, Dining, April 23" to be somewhat offensive, ill informed and badly researched. I am an Iraqi who grew up to the delights of the Iraqi cuisine and unlike Mr. Gosh—who had spent time in Baghdad perhaps eating in restaurants around the green zone—I had a very different experience. I completely disagree with the portrayal of Iraqi food in this article as "peasant food" and not "complex." I find such statement reminiscent of the simplistic media representation and understanding of Iraq and Iraqi society. Iraqi dishes vary from one region to the other and many are 'complex' dishes that require skill and years of experience. I recommend that both Mr. Gosh and the author read Nawal Nasrallah's cookbook, Delights from the Garden of Eden, which explores both the history and the various recipes of the Iraqi cuisine. As an Iraqi, I find it disconcerting that even our food now has to be reduced and simplified by western media reporters.
I received a phone call a few days later from the New York Times Dining and Wine editors asking for permission to publish the letter. To my dismay the letter appeared in the April 30 issue completely butchered and sucked out of its life. Here is how the letter appeared:
Simply Not Peasant Food
To the Editor:
Re "A Bit of Old Baghdad With a Western Twist" (April 23):
I am an Iraqi who grew up to the delights of Iraqi cuisine. I disagree with the portrayal of Iraqi food in the article as "peasant food" and not "complex." Iraqi dishes vary from one region to the other and many require skill and years of experience.
I recommend Nawal Nasrallah's cookbook, Delights From the Garden of Eden, which explores both the history and the various recipes of Iraqi cuisine.
This is a very disturbing form of censorship and silencing of critical Iraqi voices who seemed to have lost even the ability to speak for their own food and cuisine. As simplistic representation of Iraqi society continues to predominate Western media, Iraqi cuisine seems to become now its latest victim."
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
He acknowledged that one of the reasons for his support of the cessation of further foreign aid to the Palestinians involved the allegations of wanton corruption, leveled against Yassir Arafat and his successor Mahmoud Abbas. While advocating an independent Palestinian state, Mr. Nusseibeh also worried about violence in Palestinian society. In answer to a question, he admitted that much of the incitement occurs during the evening telecasts of the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation, which operates under Mr. Abbas' supervision." Notice that this report referred to Nusseibeh as "senior official" while he is neither. But maybe they meant that he was a senior puppet of occupation.
In the Lebanese al-Mustaqbal daily, founded and owned by the Hariri family, Wissam Sa’adeh wrote on the alleged benefits of the Hariri visit, contemplating a meeting of minds between Shi’a and Sunni Arabs who support the “project of the state” (ostensibly, individuals like Hariri and Maliki, allied with governments like Saudi Arabia and Jordan) against those Shi’as and Sunnis furthering a project of “sedition” in the Middle East (with references made by the author towards Iran and Syria, the common target of the Hariri-owned media in Lebanon.)
In the op-ed, the author argued that recent bouts of civil strife in the Middle East (specifically in Iraq and Lebanon) were employed and furthered by radical forces using sectarianism to hamper the “project of the state.” On the other hand, he claimed, Iraq and Lebanon are witnessing a bright model of state-building that eschews radicalism and sectarian violence. The author added that the representatives of this project (such as PM Maliki and PM Siniora) are also making advances, citing the recent “successes” of the Iraqi government forces “from Mosul to Basra, passing by Anbar.” Sa’adeh ends his article by expressing dismay at those who “deny the qualitative security improvement (in Iraq) or dismiss its importance,” equating such a stance on behalf of “the anti-globalization and anti-imperialists” with “wishing for … the death of the largest number of Iraqis.”
The same visit was read quite differently by Lebanese daily al-Akhbar, a left-leaning secular publication that generally opposes US policies in the region. The paper’s Iraq correspondent, Zaid al-Zubaidi, said that Hariri’s visit was mainly for business purposes, with his “informal” high-level meetings devoted to delivering a political message from Saudi Arabia. On the political aspect: Sa`d Hariri – who holds Saudi citizenship - is occasionally sent on “missions” by high-level Saudi officials. According to many observers, including al-Akhbar, the visit may have included a Saudi message of “rapprochement” with the Maliki government.
On the business aspect, the paper cited skeptics who claimed that Saudi-Iraqi relations are decided on a “higher level” and that Hariri’s visit merely represented the commercial side of Saudi-Iraqi detente. These analysts point out that Hariri met with figures close to the Oil Ministry, that his visit to ‘Ammar al-Hakeem was labeled by Iraqi media as a “business meeting,” and that Talabani’s statements after meeting with Hariri focused on Iraq’s need to emulate the “success” of the “Hariri companies” in Lebanon’s post-war reconstruction. Furthermore, the paper revealed, a company owned by Hariri is currently bidding for a major Baghdad development (in terms of scale: the project – called al-Rasheed - is situated over 150 million Sq feet of land in the capital and – when completed – will include residential units for 400,000 people.) Lebanese commercial involvement in Iraq is not a small matter, a report in the Economy section of al-Akhbar said. Billions of dollars are currently invested by Lebanese businessmen (often managing, partnered with, or acting as fronts for Gulf capitals) in the high-risk environment of Iraq. And in the Middle East, where commerce often mixes with politics, the names of many members of the Lebanese and Iraqi elite are found in these investments.
For example, on the same day of Hariri’s visit, it was announced in Arbil that a Lebanese-financed $60 M hotel project will be constructed in Kurdistan’s capital. A ceremony was held for the announcement, attended by Kurdistan’s Prime Minister and the Lebanese ex-Minister of tourism, a political ally of Sa`d Hariri. During the ceremony, Kurdish officials announced that Lebanon is the second-largest investor in Kurdistan, with projects in the pipeline amounting to Billions of Dollars (including a $2.9 Bn oil refinery, cement factories and banking enterprises.)
A quick look at the names of investors and companies cited by the Iraqi sources reveals the extent of business interests joining a section of the Lebanese elite and post-2003 Iraqi leaders. In the days of Saddam, it was alleged that many Lebanese politicians (and their relatives) acted as business intermediaries for the Iraqi dictator – amassing large fortunes in the process. Political figures involved in these deals allegedly included MPs, Ministers and even the son of an ex-President. With a new regime for a “New Iraq,” new (?) patterns of political/commercial partnerships seem to be emerging between the two countries."