Israeli spy, gay tourist or muslim convert?

The case of Daniel Sharon has taken another surprising turn, with his father, Moshe Sharon, telling AP that his son had converted to islam in 1994, adding that Daniel was “childish” and it’s possible that he could get mixed up “with the wrong people and didn’t know what he was getting into.” Nevertheless, he said his son, whom he had thought to be in Cyprus not Lebanon, “has only good intentions.” The Israeli authorities, unsurprisingly, deny Sharon was working for them. German authorities are starting to look into the case also.

On another note, Lebanese friends have been calling off appointments for today and tomorrow as they are uneasy about going out the next two days, citing concerns about possible new car bombs targeting M14-politicians today or tomorrow, i.e. before the election. In a cold calculation, it only takes one more M14-MP to be killed for them to lose their majority in parliament (after Ghanem’s assassination, they’re down to 65 out of 128)… In fact, although parliament is expected to convene on Tuesday 25th as planned, the actual vote will likely be postponed to an unspecified date in October, as there is still no consensus on a candidate acceptable to both sides, meaning most opposition MP’s will not show up so as to make sure the required 2/3 quorum is not attained and hence no president can constitutionally be elected.

Are you an Israeli spy or are you just gay?

Al-Akhbar on its front page today leads with a report on the arrest of ‘an Israeli travelling on a German passport’ (or ‘a dual citizen of Israel and Germany’, as Haaretz would have it) called Daniel Sharon, who is being questioned by military intelligence in connection with a murder in Dahiyyeh, and also faces espionage charges. The man, who has visited Lebanon 11 times over the past 2 years, reportedly has a friend in an unspecified security agency (there’s a wide choice of these in Lebanon) who helped him out within the country, and he also paid a hotel clerk not to mention his full name on documents (not surprisingly, as Sharon is not exactly a popular name in these parts). “He is denying charges of espionage and insists that he is gay and he likes to have sexual relations with Lebanese men and that is why his visits to Lebanon were frequent.” Israelis are officially forbidden entry in Lebanon, whether they hold dual nationality or not. Suspecting fellow human beings whether Lebanese or foreigners of espionage, by the way, seems tp be a national pastime in this country, where conspiracies real and imagined flourish without any need for theories to sustain them. On the other hand, facts to sustain them are plentiful and often just begging for a ‘conspiracy theory’ to make sense of them. Continue reading “Are you an Israeli spy or are you just gay?”

The looting of Sumer and Palestine

One of the most overlooked results of the US/UK war on the Iraqi people (and how many people know that this is already the fifth (5th!) time the UK invades the ‘agressive’ country of Iraq in the mere 90 years of its existence?) is the wholescale destruction and looting of the ancient heritage of the first civilisation in world history which left written records behind. Firstly the invading troops are occupying five different archeological sites with military bases ‘in order to protect them’ – in actual reality willfully destroying them by the heavy traffic of their military vehicles and by building directly on top of them. Doesn’t this remind you of Vietnam- ‘in order to save the village (from communism) we had to destroy it’, as the US put it back then. Secondly, the economics of civil war amid a crippled economy dictate that the various parties and factions exploit every money-making opportunity offered by the territory they control. This means that, in league with corrupt art and antiquity dealers in New York, London, Zurich and Tel Aviv, Iraqis are digging out and exporting every sellable artefact they can find. Gone are the days when Saddam Hussein prohibited the export of national treasures to protect the Mesopotamian patrimony from being exported to the west – or at least that was left of it after the English had robbed it at will during their first and second occupations of the country – go see the British Museum for the proudly displayed evidence of those crimes. Continue reading “The looting of Sumer and Palestine”

Mansur’s reply to Abu-Khalil – More pictures

I have managed to put some more pictures on my flickr site, both of the touristy variety (Jbeil, Bcharre, Mount Lebanon) and a number of views inside the Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp.

Also in this post: a brief summary of Iskandar Mansur’s reply to Abu-Khalil and my reaction to that.
Quote: ‘But the point which neither Mansur nor some of the commenters to the posting both on As’ad’s and my own blog seem to get, is that As’ad is speaking to the Palestinian people and not to their leaders, whom he actually accuses of being bribed and of betraying their people. The piece doesn’t make any sense (comes across as naive even), if you don’t take this essential distinction into account. As’ad doesn’t apologize to Arafat or the PLO in its heyday, much less to Abu Mazen and the current manifestation of Fatah in the occupied territories, he apologizes to the Palestinian men, women and children who experience the actual suffering while their leaders are happily conferring with their enemies’ leaders.’

Read the full piece:

Continue reading “Mansur’s reply to Abu-Khalil – More pictures”

‘To my people of Nahr al-Bared… refugees for a second time’

The following is my translation of an opinion piece published by Prof. As’ad Abu-Khalil in the independent (leftist) Lebanese newspaper ‘al Akhbar’ – you can find the original here. As’ad kindly permitted me to publish my translation on ‘In the Middle of the East’. I took some stylistic and other liberties in the translation, as the flowery and oratory nature characteristic of Arabic polemic texts doesn’t sound as natural in our matter-of-fact Germanic languages as it does in the original. And the piece is very polemic indeed, with Abu-Khalil describing his countrymen as incurably sectarian, treacherous and racist towards the Palestinians, and the Palestinians as eternal victims of Lebanese and Israeli power plays. It is a refreshing and badly needed point of view in the context of the self-celebratory, army-lauding atmosphere that reigns in the Lebanese press (and the country) in general and should be read in this context. The obvious refutations that can be made to this were duly made in a reply published in the same paper on 10 september by Iskandar Mansur (and mentioned and linked to by As’ad on his blog). I will resume its main points (in English) in a later post.
I have added some notes for people not familiar with the history of Lebanese-Palestinian relations and the civil war, and I have also, to avoid an overabundance of notes, linked to the relevant pages in (the English-language) Wikipedia. Continue reading “‘To my people of Nahr al-Bared… refugees for a second time’”