Saturday, October 24, 2009

Kalam by my brother Cornel West

You can't lead the people if you don't love the people. You can't save the people if you don't serve the people.

This quote is dedicated to the Egyptian government, the National Democratic Party, the Egyptian Parliament, the so-called Muslim Brotherhood, & the wanna be leaders.

I come from a tradition that says: ”Peacocks strut because they cannot fly. They snob because they are insecure.”

This quote is dedicated to the Egyptian nouveau riche and their kids.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Education in the Arab world.

While the Egyptian popular media has unanimously decided to put the critical issues infecting the Egyptian society on the back burner and is instead busy discussing whether "to cover (women's faces) or not to cover", here is how the Economist magazine has depicted the sorry state of education in the Arab world:

Laggards trying to catch up

A RECENT issue of Science, the weekly journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, was devoted to research into “Ardi” orArdipithecus ramidus, a 4.4m-year-old hominid species whose discovery deepens the understanding of
human evolution. These latest studies suggest, among other things, that rather than descending from a closely related species such as the chimpanzee, the hominid branch parted earlier than previously thought from the common ancestral tree.
In much of the Arab world, coverage of the research took a different spin. “American Scientists Debunk Darwin”, exclaimed the headline in al-Masry al-Youm, Egypt’s leading independent daily. “Ardi Refutes Darwin’s Theory”, chimed the website of al-Jazeera, the region’s most-watched television channel. Scores of comments from readers celebrated this news as a blow to Western materialism and a triumph for Islam. Two or three lonely readers wrote in to complain that the report had inaccurately presented the findings of the research.

The response to Ardi’s unearthing was not surprising. According to surveys, barely a third of Egyptian adults have ever heard of Charles Darwin and just 8% think there is any evidence to back his famous theory. Teachers, who might be expected to know better, seem equally sceptical. In a survey of nine Egyptian state schools, where Darwin’s ideas do form part of the curriculum for 15-year-olds, not one of more than 30 science teachers interviewed believed them to be true. At a private university in the United Arab Emirates, only 15% of the faculty thought there was good evidence to support evolution.
To read the complete article click here.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Qibya massacre

Today marks the 56th anniversary of the massacre in the Palestinian village Qibya. Every fall in Qibya during the olive harvesting season, the memory of the attack is kept alive in a mourning ceremony. A memorial plaque behind the village mosque honors Sharon's victims.

To read more about this massacre, click here.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Stop The World I Wanna Get Off!!!

Lately I have the urge to repeat after Lucy van Pelt, of the comic strip Peanuts created by the late Charles Schultz:

Do I need to explain why? Didn't think so, but I will tell you just in case you guess wrong. It's the headlines of these turbulent days:

Goldstone row rumbles on
Hebron: “Youth Dies Of Earlier Wounds, Nine Residents Wounded, Two Detained”
Abu Zuhri: “Abbas' Speech Contradictory, Filled With Misinformation”

Palestinian U-turn on Gaza report

UN delays action on Gaza war report
New brochure markets East Jerusalem homes to Jewish families
Yemen vows to fight rebels for "years" to come

Farewell to “El-Doctor”

Iran 'sentences three to death'

Al-Azhar face-veil ban questioned

Hamas crackdown on Gaza challengers
Another injustice to Palestinians
Yemen faces 'humanitarian crisis'
Hilltop Youth push to settle West Bank
The rise of the military rabbis
Early exit
The waste of profit
Sudan claims Halayeb, Shalatin as electoral constituencies
Fake "hymen" sparks outrage in Egypt
Alexandria torture trial postponed
Jail for Jordan 'honour killing'
Monsoon threatens Sri Lankan refugees with 'humanitarian disaster'

You see, I was not exaggerating.

Why haven't I actually gotten off yet? Well, because there were also a few positive news items such as........, well I guess they are much harder to find. Oh I guess beating Zambia 1-0 and renewing Egypt's hopes to qualify for the World Cup in S.A. could be considered my life savior.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

School Friends

As I mentioned in the previous post, I am a member of a Yahoo group for the graduates of my old school's class of 1996.

Since some of you might know my true identity, I am forced to tell the truth and to admit that it was actually the class of 1986. You still don't believe me? I was just kidding, it's actually the class of 1981. OK forget about the year, we just graduated some time in the past, the exact date is not important.

We all had two things in common. First, our parents belonged to the lost/diluted Egyptian middle class. I am sure there were some exceptions, i.e. students who belonged to the higher class of the society, but the socialist policies of the sixties (did I actually say sixties??) made those differences less flagrant than they are nowadays. Second, we were all a bit crazy in the head.

After years of not seeing any of my classmates, with the exception of two or three close friends, I was once again reunited with them. Well I should say with the 25 to 35 of them who are either active in the Yahoo group I was invited to join, or who regularly attend reunions. Among the group are representatives of all the diverse believes and characters, composing the tapestry of the current Egyptian society.

Allow me to introduce the ones I've been in close contact with for the past two years.

First we have the Moderator. Since he is also a relative of mine and a frequent reader of this blog, I am obliged to be nice to him, so take anything I say with a grain of salt. We all owe Mr. Moderator for starting the Yahoo group, and for being one of the most active members in reunions. He is also the official photographer of the group. When needed, he also acts as the peace maker between the two most notorious members of the group (they know exactly who they are). He is also a fellow blogger, and I hate to admit, a good one too. So by now you must be thinking, What a guy!! Well, think again. He is not that perfect. When I joined the group I discovered that he has hijacked my family name and is using it as if he is the most important member of the family!!

Second we have Ms. aPolotica. This member of the group, who is also very active as an organizer of reunions and events, and is the backup photographer, claims that she is allergic to political discussions. I've caught her more than once expressing political views, but she always denies it. She is the first blogger in the group, and (I hate to admit) is an eloquent writer. Again before getting the wrong impression, let me tell you that she is also known as Shereera. She has a scary laugh, and always beats my husband in online Scrabble, and I am later left with the unpleasant job of trying to cheer him up and promising that he will be able to beat her in the next game. This hasn't happened yet!!

Next we have Ms. Serene. Contrary to her name, she is an extremely active, vibrant, and outspoken member of the group. She has been to every reunion I attended, and is usually the one who takes care of the venue reservation. Her presence adds a positive and happy feeling to the meetings since she is always laughing at the group's jokes, even the lame ones. That's a great attitude that I truly appreciate cause I am usually the one telling those lame jokes.

Not to forget Madam ShuShu. Another active member of the group who has also been to all reunions I went to. If you're wondering, Shushu stands for Shitan. And not any Shitan, it's the sweet tooth Shitan who always urges the group to have dessert after dinner. Like Serene, Shushu has a great distinguished contagious laugh that spreads around the group like wildfire.

The rest of the group owes a lot to those four members for keeping the group active and alive.

Other active participants are: Sweet Toshka, Scary but Funny Raya & Sekina, the Yin and Yang brothers Hakim & Zadood, el okht Ebti, Butch, the never seen together Stranger twins, Darling Dolly, Omda the Gentleman, dear Zamalkaweya brothers Fanan, Saher, Maged & Maged, the Veil Sisters, Regardful Ragroug, The GiGis, the What's up Docs Hani & Nabil, Sahroor & Abu el Fadl, the Farag cousins, Nifa, ........................

What is my role in the group? Well, I start fights, thus keeping the discussions interesting.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


I've just discovered that I suffer from a bad case of M.E.A.D. Don't feel too ignorant if you've never heard of his serious disorder before reading those lines cause the disorder was only discovered and named by me less than three minutes ago.

Now that you are truly alarmed and worried about me (you'd better be), let me ease your suffering. The acronym stands for Multiple Email Addresses Disorder. If you're tempted to say: "Oh, is that it? I got that too. I have two emails, one for work and another one for personal correspondences", then don't.

Do you really think that if my case was that simple, that I would be wasting your (and my own more valuable) time on this post. On my first attempt, I counted five different addresses. A recount showed that I actually have a total of seven active email accounts!!

The first was my work address. Second came a Hotmail account. Then when Gmail was still in its trail phase, I created two addresses, one for family, and another one for friends. Then to post frank, liberal, and progressive comments on newspapers' sites and blogs without fear of being paid a visit by midnight security forces, I created another Gmail address in my husband's name (no habibi, just kidding). And to join the Yahoo Group of old school friends, I had to create a Yahoo account, and this lead to another dedicated Gmail address to receive the hundreds of emails sent by this good for nothing group cause the Yahoo account had limited features.

The saddest aspect of my disorder is that I have three of those accounts open all day long, two I check several times a day, and the last two, I check several times each week. In other words, I have no life away from my laptop.

To help find a cure for this serious disease, please send all your money to my brand new email address: Thank you.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sowing Crisis

Prior to reading Sowing Crisis, I had never thought that an "Arab Cold War" existed and that it was a direct product of the "Cold War" between the two major powers of the time, the USA & the USSR.

In "Sowing Crisis" Khalidi clearly illustrates the way in which these two "battles" are connected.

Really interesting read.

Rashid Khalidi is the Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Colombia University.

Click here to watch the talk titled: "Palestine: 40 Years of Occupation, 60 Years of Dispossession".

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The happiest day of my childhood

In spite of my poor memory, I remember October 6th 1973, as if it was yesterday.

This glorious day remains as one of the happiest days of my life.

God bless every soldier, officer, and civilian who were involved in the planning and the execution of the victory that gave me back my pride and dignity.

(I am in such a good mood that I won't even make any exceptions)