Monthly Archives: October 2007

Genocide and Politics All Around

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First the American House of Representatives, against the wishes of President Bush and the urgrings of eight former secretaries of state, has decided to push for legislation calling the 1915 mass murders of Armenians a “Genocide”. This has gotten the Turks up in arms and ready to retaliate. The Turks have now passed legislation to allow its country’s military forces to enter into Iraq and attack Kurds.

In a post on the book The Bastard of Istanbul, I referenced the whole Turkey/Armenian Genocide controversy. And in a more recent post on the War in Iraq, I discussed Kurdish/Turkey tensions and their effect on U.S. policy in Iraq.

Genocide is a “hot word” for many reasons, and Turkey is in a “hot spot” for American interests. It was during the Balkans in the 1990s and is now with Iraq. Furthermore, there are hundreds of thousands of Armenian Americans lobbying for the Congress to act, and yet the Congress acting is contrary to the U.S.’s interests in the region. For a pretty good summary of the issues involved, check out this week’s The Economist article on the subject.



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Palestinian Refugees Suffer in Lebanon

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Amnesty International has just published a series of reports on the living conditions of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon since 1948. There is an argument that if Lebanon and other neigbhoring countries provide better conditions for the refugees, then Israel will ultimately benefit because the refugees will no longer need a home called Palestine to return to. Another recent Amnesty International story covers the predicament of Palestinian refugees in Iraq.

Unfortunately as things stand, the Palestinians really don’t have any friends or enemies to turn to. Here is the summary of the reports: Continue reading

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Funny or Offensive?

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One thing that is continuously becoming more and more disturbing to me is how the West has become increasingly anti-Islam and anti-Arab based on the stereotype that all Arabs and Muslims are potential suicide bombers, national security threats, and/or backwards. Similar stereotypes of other classes of people would not pass the hyper-sensitive PC culture in the United States and would be considered offensive. Nevertheless, this does not stop popular culture and politics in the U.S. and the West from classifying everything Arab and Muslim as threatening and immune from cultural senstivity.

Now, I am not arguing that certain religious or societal practices can never be criticized. They can and should be. My concern simply deals with blind and broad generalizations that do not coincide with reality, and I believe this is the case with the new anti-Arab fascism prevailing in the media and culture today.

My question here is whether this image is offensive or funny. Does it make a difference that it was sent to me by Arab friends?


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Lebanese Bzazel

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Every country has its own regional reputation. And there is certainly one for Lebanese bzazel!


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The All American Asshole

A-S-S-H-O-L-E. Dennis Leary’s classic song from the 90s, and one of ReWrite’s favorites.


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One Semester of Spanish Love Song

Este video is muy pero muy funny. It is a love song with words learned after just one semester of Spanish.

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Al-‘Ain az-zarga jana b-kul khir

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Last night, I finished reading Fatema Mernissi’s Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood about a girl growing up in a conservative 1940’s Fessi family at the time of the Moroccan nationalist movement and social change.

In one of the latter chapters, entitled “American Cigarrettes”, the girl describes the arrival of American troops with fascination. For the young Moroccan girl, it was hard to fully comprehend why Christians of different nations were at each others’ throats. Why did the Allemanes hate people with dark hair, and who were their Christian cousins that arrived by sea from the west? “The French and the Spanish were rather small and had black mustaches, while Americans were very tall with devilish blue eyes.”

The Americans arrived with Operation Torch handing out chewing gum, cigarrettes, and chasing all of the women. And so it was that the American occupation was much friendlier than that of the French and Spanish. As a matter of fact, there was a local folk singer, Hussein Slaoui, who sang “Al-‘Ain az-zarga jana b-kul khir”, meaning “the blue-eyed guys brought all kinds of blessing”. Continue reading

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