29 September 2007


Read about the "Shock Doctrine," Naomi Klein's new book about the methodology by which individuals and peoples en masse are shocked into submission and severe economic & political changes.

CLICK HERE for Naomi's website & book.

CLICK HERE for a number of interviews with Naomi Klein, many of which are on Amy Goodman's DEMOCRACY NOW (including a debate with Alan Greenspan.)

Below is a short 6 minute film about the "Shock Doctrine" by Naomi Klein & Alfonso Cuarón, Directed by Jonás Cuarón.


22 September 2007

Architecture & Exploration

After my last post and the discussion that ensued with POSHLEMON on certain topics of architectural types & details found in Lebanon and Palestine, and their probable socio-historical context, I asked her to look into a few more buildings, specifically located in my hometown of Bint Jbeil. This is not a light subject for me. My family was expelled from the town with the first Israeli invasion in 1978, and endured a subsequent exile from there for the following 22 years; I myself was brought up first in Beirut and then in the West, cut off from a direct connection with my home town, and without a natural relationship with its land, its relics and itsهوا.

This state of waiting, longing, searching and dreaming that has accompanied many decades of my life has incarnated itself into my poetry (1) (2) (3) (4) and paintings, and has similarly been part of the writing and art of many Lebanese & Palestinian friends of my generation. (I will post in the near future about my paintings and the connotations of loss, place and identity in them.)

The war last year erased much of Bint Jbeil's architectural heritage; the Israelis targeted more specifically the center of town, which is the oldest and more significant part (culturally and archeologically.)

Therefore, far from just providing the esteemed Professor Posh with a few pictures to discuss, I've decided to make this a larger project of collecting and exploring those images. There are many images with which to grapple, and so I decided to move this discussion to a separate distinct blog. Is this super-obsessive on my part? Yes. Is that bad? I don't know.

The exploration of these images may be an academic excercise for Posh (I don't mean to say "academic" in the disconnected or trivial sense, because this is actually the subject matter of her professional academic pursuits,) but for me, it is an exploration of heritage, memory and self.

So go ahead and click on the archway below to go the new blog:

20 September 2007


In the photograph below, a Mu'eddin calls to prayer atop a minaret in Jerusalem. The architectural style of the minaret seems to me not that dissimilar from minarets found in many villages across Lebanon. (Maybe Poshlemon can elaborate on that topic and offer art history nutrition for those of us hungry for that dish of knowledge.)

date of photograph: 1940, not that long ago.

(click for larger image)


17 September 2007

Abuse in Lebanese Households

graphic above © Ibn Bint Jbeil 2005

On his blog, Moussa Bashir highlights the disturbing issue of the widespread abuse inflicted on foreign domestic workers in Lebanese households. It is something to be ashamed of. Any family that invites a young woman into their home as a live-in domestic worker should treat her as a sister or a daughter; anything less is expressive of that family's illness, as well as a societal illness.

I want to say that I feel proud when a fellow lebanese such as Mr. Bashir stands up for what's right, even if that be contrary to the mainstream culture's expectations of what is prudent about a subject.

I truly believe that when belligerent Lebanese employers (and I do know that the problem also exists in other Arab countries) abuse their guest workers, whether it remains on the level of emotional abuse or reaches one level of physical abuse or another, that abusive employer is divulging their own weakness, self-hatred, identity confusion, racism, and a cycle of ceaseless societal abuse that is an integral aspect of the culture, and which must be abolished from our midst. GOD HELP US.

PLEASE READ MOUSSA BACHIR's Sept 13 & Sept 16 articles.

15 September 2007

Sabra & Shatila Massacres

On the 25th Anniversary of the Sabra & Shatila Massacres by Izraeli & Phalangist thugs, we send prayers of peace and love, during this sacred month, to the innocent souls of our Palestinian brothers & sisters, may they reside in tranquility with their Creator, and my Allah connect between themselves and ourselves with goodwill and fraternity, and may He continuously frustrate the hands of their murderers.

art below: Adnan Yahya


12 September 2007

رمضان مبارك مش حسني مبارك

(Ramadan Mubarak not Husni Mubarak)

Best Wishes for a Glorious Ramadan

(click for large view)
graphic © Ibn Bint Jbeil 2007


06 September 2007

Doris Bittar at Nahr elBared in 2002

After reading my Sept 2 post, painter-photographer Doris Bittar sent me a few thoughts, as well as the pictures below.

She told me about a trip to Narh el-Bared in 2002:

"We stayed overnight in the camp and then traveled with our friends to Syria. Our friend Jamal is from San Diego but his parents remain in the camp. His mother had the most lovely kitchen and a roof top with a garden, a space to dream while you looked out to the sea to the west and the high mountains to the east.

"I was interested in the rich personal spaces that people create for themselves in the camp, in this unpromising environment. Jamal's mother, like so many Palestinian women, made a special home for her family. I attached a portrait collage of her in her kitchen."


02 September 2007

The Destruction of Nahr elBared, 2007

The victory of the Lebanese army over the thugs in the Nahr elBared Refugee camp is being celebrated as the most wonderful of victories, because it is seen as a victory that has united the Lebanese. It seems that this victory has brought to the Lebanese and to the Lebanese army a much need boost of confidence and pride. But at what price?

The Devastation of Nahr elBared can only be described as "shock and awe" that makes the hyper-militarist George Bush & Israeli Army look like schoolyard bullies. Some Lebanese would say that it is un-Lebanese or un-patriotic to complain about the destruction, that the army had to do what it had to do. While it was necessary to deal with Fath-el-Shaytan, it was not necessary to destroy the homes of thousands. It is peculiar that the army was cornered into this fight while the truth about the origins of Fath-el-Shaytan and their backers remains undisclosed.

I submit that it is not anti-Lebanese to feel disgusted at the complete destruction of an entire society: Nahr elBared was home to 30 thousand civilians, four generations who have lived there since 1948, a community that has coexisted with the Lebanese since that time. But this would be the second time that they are expelled and their home utterly destroyed, after they were expelled from Palestine in 1948. To assume that they deserve this because as Palestinians they harbored Fath-el-Shaytan is a racist hateful mentality. It would be like saying that it was ok for Israhell to completely destroy civilian life in South Lebanon in their fight with Hizballah, or to say that it was ok to destroy Christian civilian areas during the Aoun-Gaegae war because civilians were harboring fighters of either side, or to say that it is ok to destroy Iraqi neighborhoods in their entirety because Al-Qaeda hides in their midst. To support the civilians of Nahr elBared and feel bad for their loss of their home does not mean support for Fath-el-Shaytan, nor does it mean one is anti-Lebanese; on the contrary - we Lebanese must evolve to a higher standard, away from petty sectarianism amongst ourselves and petty racism against others who live in Lebanon, who labor at slave wages for the benefit of the Lebanese themselves.

As far as the destruction of Nahr elBared, who is most elated and joyful today? I cannot help but think of hateful fascists such as Hurras-el-Arz who openly avow the killing of all Palestinians in Lebanon. If there are some Lebanese who are happy to feel like Hurras-el-Arz at the sight of Nahr elBared, then that reveals something deeply rotten about the psyche of some Lebanese.


Anonymity, Hate, and the Human Condition

painting © 2006, Ibn Bint Jbeil & friends (collaborative work)

Recently, I posted a very simple comment on THE ANGRY ARAB NEWS SERVICE, and an equally simple reply to it bothered me quite a bit.
  • Here is the original post that As3ad Abu Khalil (The Angry Arab) posted:
It still bothers me--but is quite indicative of something global--that my posts that have to do with sexism or gender discrimination generate no reactions or comments whatever. I can write "potato" in a post, and there would be some 20 comments.
  • I jokingly made the following comment:
I am hereby commenting because you included the word potato in your post.
  • An anonymous person who called himself "ibn 'aynata " commented directly after my comment:
and that is why every time we are asked if we are from bint jbeil,we are fast in denying that, potato head
  • I replied with the words below;

the commenting section of your blog is a forum for psychopaths to spew their hatred for each other, while they are all anonymous to each other. i cannot believe the extent of the hatred.

it's like experiencing an angry moment inside a psychiatric hospital ward where all the patients have gone ballistic and start to verbally assault each other, coming very close to throwing chairs at each other. the only difference is: everyone has a mask on their face; no one knows who anyone else really is.

i mean, i understand that the entire forum of blogging in general, to a large extent, is a forum for hate, and an opportunity for people to show their hate, but on your blog, your posts are in one world, and the comments section of your readership is in an entirely different world. and it's not just the expected hatred of pro-palestinians vs zionists, or religious vs secularist, or vegetarians vs carnivores; even someone from aynata feels compelled to offer hateful words to someone from bint jbeil, words that perhaps would not have been said in person.

what is with the amount of HATRED? what is fermenting in everyone's hearts??? where does the compelling need of one to tell others about one's hatred come from?? is it the anonymity of the internet?
And I'll add a couple of words and ask this:

Has the advent of the internet, and the virtual anonymity of it, allowed us human beings the previously unavailable opportunity to hide yet openly divulge the inner-most recesses of our deepest psyches? Is this good or not? What about divulging the good aspects of our inner selves while anonymous? (That as well happens on the internet.) Have we seen nothing yet? have the deepest parts of our psyches not yet come out, on a mass scale? After all, the internet is relatively young. What will happen then? will we just plainly run outside and eat other?

I know that saying things like "the advent of the internet" makes me sound old, but I am proud to not belong to the generations that take for granted the internet as well as the preponderance of mass communication, and know nothing else.

I remember a different kind of anonymity, a time when an individual walked the Earth with a truly free spirit, free from electronics, free from micro-connectedness, free from surveillance, free from identity tracking, free from micro-chipped-existence, free from hyper-competitiveness, free from super-speed and cyber-life. One was truly anonymous and free, although we didn't know it then, and that is why we allowed it to be taken away, in exchange for all kinds of new abilities and opportunitites.

That was before all of this existed. Then again, neither had psychopathic homicidal empires and nation-states existed, back in the good ol days when we lived in caves. But at least we didn't eat each other then.