Marc J. Sirois of the Daily Star takes on the western media in a particularly inspired editorial rant:
‘Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Hizbullah, is routinely described as “the black-turbaned cleric.” Absent the explanation that the color of his headgear indicates his status as a blood descendant of the Prophet Mohammad, the phrase betrays a purpose not unlike that of Hollywood Westerns of the mid-20th century, when villains were commonly dressed in black (and/or seated on black horses) to make sure everyone knew how to feel when John Wayne shot them to death. Does anyone ever describe Siniora as “bespectacled” or Lebanese Forces boss Samir Geagea as “balding?” Of course not, because the aim of such words is to describe, and the aim of “black-turbaned cleric” is manifestly to vilify, to undermine a man’s arguments by painting him as “the bad guy.” Similarly, Hizbullah and other organizations that refuse to go along with the status quo in the region are regularly qualified as “anti-Israeli” or “anti-Israel.” That’s not inaccurate, but it does not even pretend to try to convey the ideologies of such groups (or even to acknowledge that they might have ideologies apart from not liking Jews very much); and for comparison’s sake, how often has the Western media described US President George W. Bush as “anti-Iraqi,” “anti-Iranian,” “anti-Muslim,” or “anti-Palestinian?”‘
Yesterday, ‘In the Middle of the East’ was quoted by CNN.com in their ‘Global Voices’ section, in a roundup of bloggers talking about the riots in Dahiyyeh last Sunday. See it here or here.
We have had a windy, stormy night followed by a cold and rainy day here in Beirut. The main subject of discussion in the street (or in the shops and bars, to be more precise – it is winter here) is, beside the riots, legendary singer and national symbol Fairouz (now 73 years old) performing in Damascus, the official Arab cultural capital for 2008. Whereas one position holds that she is an artist and shouldn’t be dragged into the murky and volatile politics of the day, look here for an example of the intense emotions this has engendered at the other end of the opinion scale.
On another subject, the Lebanese government is finally opening an investigation into the looting and destruction of Nahr el-Bared by the army last year.
The final balance of yesterday’s riots is 7 dead (protesters) and 40 wounded. Siniora declared a day of mourning with schools and universities closed today. It is still not clear who killed the protesters. Shots were fired from the crowd into the troops, the army fired back, but there are also reports of snipers shooting from rooftops in the nearby (predominantly christian) Ain al-Rummaneh neighbourhood into the (predominantly shia) protesters. The snipers are rumoured by local people and witnesses to be Lebanese Forces members shooting at both protesters and the army in an effort to provoke an escalation (which would make ample sense given the bloody and ruthless history and the current political position of the Samir Geagea’s gang). This would also have been the reason why some of the protesters went into Ain al-Rummaneh and threw a handgrenade which wounded some people there. Basically the cause of the protests was extended power cuts, with (largely pro-opposition) Dahiyyeh residents complaining they get more of them than the christian and sunni (largely pro-governement) neighbourhoods – hardly an unthinkable proposition in this country, where successive governments have consistently and systematically neglected the shia parts of the country. That is the reason why Hezbollah was able to create a ‘state within a state’ in the first place. If you’re gonna be the government of only half the country, you’re leaving an insitutional and structural void which is bound to be filled by another party. Continue reading “Day of mourning declared…”
Welcome back to Beirut… On day one after my return, I called a friend to meet for a drink and she tells me she can’t leave her house cause the army is fighting a group of Hezbollah/Amal protesters right outside her door. In Dahiyeh protests against the power cuts are getting out of hand: after the police arrested some of the protesters, they got shot at and a serious firefight started, which has resulted in the death of one man, an Amal official, up to now. Apparently he was killed by sniper fire while trying to negotiate with the army. At least three people have been wounded. The fighting is still going on. Local TV is showing images of burning cars and army charges on the barricades. My friend just tells me a fuel truck exploded in Chiah too. The protests are apparently spreading to the Gallerie Semaan area now, as well as around the al Hayat hospital where some of the wounded are being treated. Continue reading “There’s a riot going on…”
Remember how Israel is forever accusing Hezbollah and Hamas of ‘hiding among civilians’ to explain the extraordinary rate of ‘collateral damage’ caused by IDF airstrikes? An investigation by an Israeli human rights organization shows they themselves have been doing just that, although mostly among Arab Israeli communities of course. In other Israeli news, it seems that the young generation of Israeli druze have finally realized they are Palestinians and not Israelis after all. Meanwhile the IDF keeps harrassing and detaining Lebanese shepherds who follow their flock across the blue line, as well as flying their warplanes over Lebanon and causing sonic booms at low altitude to terrorize the Lebanese. At one of the planned presidential election dates they even appeared above the Lebanese parliament building in Beirut. Occasionally they get fired at by the Lebanese army, but Lebanon’s European and American ‘friends and allies’ always make sure the LAF doesn’t get hold of the kind of anti-aircraft gear that would actually enable them to hit those Israeli planes… Continue reading “Eretz stuff”