Monday, February 28, 2011

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Daoud Nasser on "Continuing Hope - Overcoming Obstacles" Thursday, March 10 program at Trinity Cathedral, downtown Cleveland (note to the locals)

Daoud Nasser on "Continuing Hope - Overcoming Obstacles"

Thursday, March 10 program at Trinity Cathedral, downtown Cleveland


Trinity Cathedral and Cleveland Peace Action present Daoud Nassar, Palestinian Farmer, Tent of Nations, Bethlehem. He will speak on "Continuing Hope-Overcoming Obstacles," Thursday, March 10th, 7:00 PM, at Trinity Cathedral, 2230 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, 44115

Please join us for a presentation by Daoud Nassar, a Palestinian farmer whose family works their farm and orchard just outside the town of Bethlehem, surrounded by settlements. The family strives to maintain a haven of peace and brother/sisterhood through activities of the Tent of Nations, a dynamic peace and local education center established by the Nassar family in 2000. International visitors, including many Israelis, join together to plant trees, harvest olives and fruit, teach at the Women's Education Center, lead activities in Youth Summer Camps, and come together in solidarity and shared goals in the pursuit of a just peace through non-violent activities. At their front gate, a sign reads "We Refuse to Be Enemies." Nasser is Winner of Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture's 2010 Peace Site Award.

Refreshments will be served.

Monday, February 21, 2011

"The War You Don't See" by John Pilger

The first half of "The War You Don't See" by John Pilger.  The rest is available on a number of formats, if you need more.  Thanks to Tim Musser for the link.  I actually hate watching things like this, and need to balance it with walking in the woods or watching "Into Great Silence" or something, just to keep my soul in shape.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

"Splendid Egypt, Our Mother, Has Returned to the Square": a poem by Saadi Yousef

"Splendid Egypt, Our Mother, Has Returned to the Square"

To Ahmad Fouad Negm

By Saadi Yousef

Translated by Salih J. Altoma

Splendid Egypt, our mother, has returned to the square
Splendid Egypt has unfurled her head scarf to the wind
And turned around, as a banner fragrant with jasmine and gunpowder
Splendid Egypt, our mother, has returned to the square


And you,
My lifetime comrade
Are there
As I had known you
With your steps ablaze in Liberation Square
How splendid the struggle is!
How inglorious restfulness is!
Splendid Egypt, our mother, has returned to the square


I see you there
With the speckled Kufiyyah,
And the Palestinian flag,
And the dream which you nurtured,
Generation after generation
In Egypt’s lands
O Ahmed Fouad Negm
Here it is: the day of resurrection
Splendid Egypt, our mother, has returned to the square

London 30.01.2011

Saadi Yousef (Sa‘di Yusuf) b.1934, one of the leading and prolific contemporary Arab poets , has lived for decades in Arab and European exile due to his revolutionary anti-establishment orientation.He was among the first poets to write this poem in support of the Egyptian uprising two weeks before its triumph. Saadi Yousef’s published works include more than 40 books of verse and numerous translations. For more information, see his website:

Ahmed Fouad Negm (=Ahmad Fu’ad Najm) b. 1929 is perhaps the most popular vernacular poet in Egypt (and beyond) highly regarded for his patriotic and revolutinary poetry. He is revered as a folk hero giving voice to the Egyptian underclass. One of his anti-Mubarak regime poems entitled “As If You Are Nothing [non-existent]” which has been circulated lately lampoons in his customary biting and irreverent style Mubarak’s reign of repression, wide-spread corruption and self-aggrandisement. It concludes with words echoing the central demands of the recent Egyptian uprisng in Tahrir (Liberation) Square:

“Gather your family, amass your fortune, take away your “Gamal”, leave us and go away.” It can be accessed in its original language accompanied with relevant photographic scences at:

Saadi Yousef’s original text uses the verb “come” جاء but the translator chose “return” instead in consultation with the poet who agreed that the verb عاد is more suitable or appropriate in reference to the new Egyptian awakening. It serves to remind us of another great Egyptian revolution as captured by Tawfiq al-Hakim in his celebrated novel “عودة الروح the Return of the Spirit.”

Salih J Altoma, Professor Emeritus, Arabic and Comparative Literature, Indiana University

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

When Are Books Dangerous? The Case of the Palestinian Book Plunder

Just the other day, as we oscillate between Israeli and Palestinian versions of history, we landed upon the nakba, the catastrophe of 1948, and I discussed the notion that Palestinians themselves present an ongoing existential threat to Israel, insofar as their very presence interrogates many of the founding myths of the state.  The story, retold in Thomas Friedman's From Beirut to Jerusalem, of how Israeli commandos first went for the PLO archive during the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, became a way of showing how Palestinian culture itself--the maps, the keys, the land deeds, the history books--were perceived as dangerous, and valuable. 

Today I read of a new documentary of the 1948 war by Benny Brunner, which details a similar cultural plunder.

Here's a bit of the article (read more at the link at the end) of the quote: 

Between May 1948 and February 1949, thirty thousand books, manuscripts, and newspapers were seized from the abandoned Palestinian homes of west Jerusalem while forty thousand books were taken from urban cities such as Jaffa, Haifa, and Nazareth. Many of the books were later marked with just two letters—“AP” for abandoned property—and embedded in Israel’s national collection, where they remain today. This historical incident is particularly revealing as it sheds light on a Palestinian cultural movement consisting of literary cafés, cinemas, and theater which, in the haze of a bitter war, was lost but never mourned. It’s time, states Brunner, for this cultural movement to be revived—the books returned—and for recognition of the diversity of Palestinian culture beyond rural embroidery and traditional Arab dance.

—Arwa Aburawa for Guernica

Guernica: Your latest documentary in the making, The Great Book Robbery, is about the looting of Palestinian books during the Nakba. How did you come across this incident which, until now, was a hidden chapter in the war of 1948?

Benny Brunner: Two-and-a-half years ago I was in the region, shooting another film, and I came across an essay by an Israeli PhD student called Gish Amit, and I was shocked. I mean I was literally stunned because at the time I thought I knew all that there was to know about ’48 and the Nakba and I didn’t believe that anything could surprise me. And the story is really significant. It’s more than the fact that seventy thousand books were looted. I realized that the Nakba wasn’t just the seven hundred and fifty thousand people who became refugees or the villages demolished. It was also the destruction of a culture. It was obvious to me I had to turn this into a film.

Read more of "Palestine's Great Book Robbery" here.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sexy Arab Girls and Can We Let Iran Get the Bomb?: Or, What is up with google ads?

Earlier this year, as an experiment, I "monetized" the blog--meaning, I allowed ads to be placed on the site--partly to see whether I might receive a pittance for my musings.  The ads have tended toward the innocuous--self-publishing, low-rez M.F.A. programs, even a Ruby Tuesday's (because all poets and activists apparently love a chain restaurant!).  Today, after a few posts about the revolution in Egypt, the ads are "Sexy Arab Girls" (apparently, a "match-making service") and an ad for an expose about Iran's nuclear program.  Regarding the latter--this, apparently, is a fairly typical way to bury political videos on Youtube (distract them with their own girls).  And the former--what evidence is there that this blogger and his readers want to ramp up a war against Iran?

Before I pull the plug on the ads, I want to see what crazy shit Google comes up with next! 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Egyptian Revolution Song: "The Sound of Freedom"

I can't adequately describe the elation that this bloodless coup has brought.  This revolution has unwritten, right before our eyes, the old Orientalisms--that Arabs require tyrants to lead them, that violence is their fate, that democratic freedoms are not the province of the East.  Watching this through the lenses of Western media has been more than strange, as the epistemological frames were as shaken as the journalists covering it.  The story was not to be tamed.

To see these faces in the streets, for so long under emergency rules--the hope, the humanity, the brightness in the eyes--is to be on the brink of great joy.  Much work is ahead for Egypt, and there are many possibilities for this revolution to be coopted and hijacked, but this was a moment where the ideology of fear and the history of violence suddenly lifted. 

When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, and Eastern Europe was freed from Soviet occupation, I felt an odd mixture of relief and sadness; though I was happy for those peoples who finally emerged under the shadow of communism, I was also aware of how the story rapidly became one of American triumphalism, that we had won the Cold War.  And while it's obviously easier to be on the side of victors, and while I'm glad that the oppressions of that nightmarish regime had passed, I wondered how the lack of a competing system of social organization might impact the rest of the world.  I suppose I trust the dynamism of dialectic, of competing views.  And as William Stafford once wrote, who will teach the victors [of the horrors of war]?

Friday, February 11, 2011



So this is how they decided to take him—
at the end of his life,
his frame shrunken, his wild rambling days over,
his days of bar fights and women over—
they waited until now,
at eighty years old,
when he had no strength to fight—
snatched him off the street,
gagged him and bundled him into a car
with darkened windows.

He, a fifty-year citizen of Mexico,
Spanish rolling off his tongue,
lashing his takers with curses
in their own language.

In the end, they took him like that,
throwing him in the car
like a sack of meat
and finally, after calling his family
and extorting all the money they could—
not much—
after stripping him of every dollar
and every item of value on his body—
they did unto their elder the only thing
they knew how to do well—
they shot him.

--Yvette Neisser Moreno

Used by permission.

Yvette Neisser Moreno is a poet and translator whose work has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, including The International Poetry Review, Palestine-Israel Journal, The Potomac Review, and Virginia Quarterly Review. She has translated two books of poetry from Spanish—most recently South Pole / Polo Sur by María Teresa Ogliastri (co-translated with Patricia Fisher), which is forthcoming from Settlement House—and is currently seeking a publisher for her first book of original poetry, Grip. She works as a freelance writer/editor specializing in international affairs and social justice, and teaches writing at the University of Maryland University College, The Writer’s Center, and Brookside Gardens. She will be a featured poet in the Spring issue of Beltway Poetry Quarterly.

Moreno is currently leading Split This Rock’s initiative to get more coverage of poetry in the Washington Post Book World and other book reviews. (See our website for how to get involved and write a letter to the editor!) After volunteering at both the 2008 and 2010 festivals, she now serves on the planning committee for the 2012 Split This Rock Poetry Festival.

Please feel free to forward Split This Rock Poem of the Week widely. We just ask you to include all of the information in this email, including this request. Thanks!

Split This Rock;

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Poetry Against the Tide of War reading

Poetry Against the Tide of War

Published on New York Activist Calendar (

3poets4peace = Poetry Against the Tide of War – Again!
Sunday, April 10, 2011 - 7:00pm

The Brecht Forum, 451 West Street (between Bank & Bethune Sts): A, C, E to 14 St. (south exits to 14th & 8th Av.; L to 8th Av. (at 14th); #1, 2, 3 to 14 St.(south exits to 12th St. & 7th Av.); PATH to Christopher St. (nr. Hudson St.); F, M to 14 St (at 6th Av.); B, D to W. 4 St. (north exits to Waverly & 6th Av.);

Chris Brandt, Veronica Golos & Angelo Verga

In January 2003, at New York's 1199 Union Hall, poets Chris Brandt, Veronica Golos and Angelo Verga organized a huge outpouring of poetic protest against the Iraq war. Theirs was a voice of outrage, one that united their decades of activism with their finely honed craft, using the spoken word to focus resistance and conscience. They also traveled to events called by anti-war groups in New York and Massachusetts to read as fundraisers for those groups' organizing efforts. On April 10, the "Three Poets for Peace" reunite, as they continue their commitment to stop the "never ending wars" led by Washington and the Pentagon--made all the more urgent and timely by the uprisings in the Arab world.

Link: [4]

Robert Fisk on the hypocrisy of the West toward the Egyptian revolution

Robert Fisk, in his recent piece on the Egyptian revolution, suggests that our imperialism and orientalism are getting in the way of supporting a burgeoning democratic movement.

"Hypocrisy is exposed by the wind of change"

Robert Fisk: : So when the Arabs cry out for the very future that Obama outlined, we show them disrespect.
Thursday, 10 February 2011
courtesy of The Independent (please visit the above link for the original article)

There is nothing like an Arab revolution to show up the hypocrisy of your friends. Especially if that revolution is one of civility and humanism and powered by an overwhelming demand for the kind of democracy that we enjoy in Europe and America. The pussyfooting nonsense uttered by Obama and La Clinton these past two weeks is only part of the problem. From "stability" to "perfect storm" – Gone With the Wind might have recommended itself to the State Department if they really must pilfer Hollywood for their failure to adopt moral values in the Middle East – we've ended up with the presidential "now-means-yesterday", and "orderly transition", which translates: no violence while ex-air force General Mubarak is put out to graze so that ex-intelligence General Suleiman can take over the regime on behalf of America and Israel.

Fox News has already told its viewers in America that the Muslim Brotherhood – about the "softest" of Islamist groups in the Middle East – is behind the brave men and women who have dared to resist the state security police, while the mass of French "intellectuals" (the quotation marks are essential for poseurs like Bernard-Henri Lévy have turned, in Le Monde's imperishable headline, into "the intelligentsia of silence".

And we all know why. Alain Finkelstein talks about his "admiration" for the democrats but also the need for "vigilance" - and this is surely a low point for any 'philosophe' – "because today we know above all that we don't know how everything is going to turn out." This almost Rumsfeldian quotation is gilded by Lévy's own preposterous line that "it is essential to take into account the complexity of the situation". Oddly enough that is exactly what the Israelis always say when some misguided Westerner suggests that Israel should stop stealing Arab land in the West Bank for its colonists.

Indeed Israel's own reaction to the momentous events in Egypt – that this might not be the time for democracy in Egypt (thus allowing it to keep the title of "the only democracy in the Middle East") – has been as implausible as it has been self-defeating. Israel will be much safer surrounded by real democracies than by vicious dictators and autocratic kings. To his enormous credit, the French historian Daniel Lindenberg told the truth this week. "We must, alas, admit the reality: many intellectuals believe, deep down, that the Arab people are congenitally backward."

There is nothing new in this. It applies to our subterranean feelings about the whole Muslim world. Chancellor Merkel of Germany announces that multiculturalism doesn't work, and a pretender to the Bavarian royal family told me not so long ago that there were too many Turks in Germany because "they didn't want to be part of German society". Yet when Turkey itself – as near a perfect blend of Islam and democracy as you can find in the Middle East right now – asks to join the European Union and share our Western civilisation, we search desperately for any remedy, however racist, to prevent her membership.

In other words, we want them to be like us, providing they stay away. And then, when they prove they want to be like us but don't want to invade Europe, we do our best to install another American-trained general to rule them. Just as Paul Wolfowitz reacted to the Turkish parliament's refusal to allow US troops to invade Iraq from southern Turkey by asking if "the generals don't have something to say about this", we are now reduced to listening while US defence secretary Robert Gates fawns over the Egyptian army for their "restraint" – apparently failing to realise that it is the people of Egypt, the proponents of democracy, who should be praised for their restraint and non-violence, not a bunch of brigadiers.

So when the Arabs want dignity and self-respect, when they cry out for the very future which Obama outlined in his famous – now, I suppose, infamous – Cairo speech of June 2009, we show them disrespect and casuistry. Instead of welcoming democratic demands, we treat them as a disaster. It is an infinite relief to find serious American journalists like Roger Cohen going "behind the lines" on Tahrir Square to tell the unvarnished truth about this hypocrisy of ours. It is an unmitigated disgrace when their leaders speak. Macmillan threw aside colonial pretensions of African unpreparedness for democracy by talking of the "wind of change". Now the wind of change is blowing across the Arab world. And we turn our backs upon it.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

"Amreeka" film showing at JCU: this Friday, 7pm! (I'll be hosting the q + a afterward)

AMREEKA: Movie Trailer. Watch more top selected videos about: Hiam Abbass, Jenna Kawar

JCU's MESA (Middle Eastern Students Association) Sponsors Movie Night: AMREEKA!
Friday, February 11 · 7:00pm - 11:00pm (movie start is 7:30pm)
John Carroll University Administration Building room 226
20700 N Park Blvd
University Heights, OH


Movie Discussion led by Dr. Philip Metres, Department of English

Help support MESA with its Middle Eastern Pastries Sale (Baklava, Nammoura, Sfouf, etc.)

**Attention nonJCU students: We checked with Campus Safety and PARKING is open & free anywhere on campus.
**ADMINISTRATION BUILDING is the large CLOCK TOWER building located in the middle of the campus. Take the stairs from either end to go to second level.

Egypt activist Wael Ghonim

Does anyone get the feeling that you're watching Egypt through very cloudy, very weirdly framed lenses? I'm hungering to hear Egyptians talk about their own country's fate.

April 6 Youth's Statement for The Egyptian Uprising...

If you haven't been gripped with excitement, awe, and fear at the revolution in Egypt, then you're missing a nation waking up from history. In the meantime, the youth, as represented by the April 6 Youth, have spoken again, to say they will not negotiate with Mubarak, and they won't leave the streets until he leaves office. Funny thing, facebook and twitter for something other than self-promotion and acting like a 12 year old...

April 6 Youth's Statement for The Egyptian Uprising...

The Egyptian youth Stood & fought against the Tyrants, and we faced their bullets with bare Chests, with all bravery and patience, so hail for the great Egyptian people who made this revolution, and so we confirm that victory is in the fall of Mubarak and his Regime .

From the 25th of January "The Egyptian Uprising" we brought down the dictator's legitimacy...Who rule Egypt now is the Valiant Egyptian people... to maintain our peaceful uprising and to continue protecting ourselves and our country against the Sabotage of the terror regime's thugs.

We will continue what we started on the 25th of January, we the Egyptian youth of who were not deceived by Mubarak's speech which aimed to absurd the Egyptian people's feelings, and underestimated their mentality as it has been used for the past 30 years, with the same fake speeches and promises, and delusional election programs which none of it came to reality.

Mubarak came to this kind of false talk, as a thought from him that the Egyptian people still can be deceived and believe his false words as he just replaced some of his thugs by others and still killing and arresting people, Mubarak lost credibilty and will never gain it again from his the Egyptian people as they know now how to fight for their rights and ready to die for it.

We wil not accept any kind of negotiatons before Mubarak departs..
We will not give up until we achieve our demands..

April 6 Youth Movement
Egyptian Resistance Movement