Archives for category: Palestine

كتب الدكتور كامل العسلي ١٤ كتابا عن القدس وتاريخها. بعد ان توفي في عام ١٩٩٥ ترك مكتبه بما في ادراجه من أوراق دون تنسيق لوقت طويل. عندما زرت عمان في شهر شباط بدأتُ وجدتي وامي بترتيب تلك الأوراق ووجدنا بينها كنوزا مدفونة. قررت ان أشارككم هنا احدها. 

Dr. Kamil J. Asali

November 25, 1991

Jerusalem: Short Historical Notes

On The City’s Identity, Population and Development Through The Ages

Origin of the City and its Population

Jerusalem was founded towards the beginning of the third millennium BC, as a Canaanite settlement in what was called the Land of Canaan. The Amorites,  people closely related to the Canaanites, shared in the establishment of Jerusalem. The first name of the city, Urusalem, and the names of two of its early kings, are believed to be Amorite.

In the middle of the second millennium, Jerusalem was inhabited by a people of Canaanite extraction, called the Jebusites. These gave the city its second name Jebus.

About 2000 years after its establishment, Jerusalem was invaded by the David (c. 1000 B.C.).

According to the Old Testament, the Israelites did not expel the Jebusites from Jerusalem, but lived with them side by side, most probably they could no drive them out. Ever since the Israelite occupation the Canaanites continued to live in the country up to present day, i.e. now for five thousand years they constitute the majority of the Palestine peasantry.

The simple fact is that the majority of the Palestine Arabs of today were not descendants of the relatively “new comers”- the Arabs who came to the land with the conquests of the 7th century. They are a mixed population whose relation with the land rose since time immemorial (they were arabised and islamised and supplemented with ethnic arabs in the 7th century and after).

Therefore they (the Palestinians of today) are the real owners of the land.

Thus the claim that the jews were the original inhabitants of Palestine and that they preceded the Arab population of Jerusalem falls asunder. 

Islamic Toleration towards the Jews 

Rome and Byzantium expelled the Jews from Jerusalem and did not tolerate their presence in the city. But the Arabs and Muslims -ironically enough- allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem.

This happened three times:

  • In the 7th Century: when the Arabs came under the banners of Islam they lifted the Byzantine Embargo and allowed the Jews to return.
  • In the 12th Century (after 1187): Saladin agreed to the return of the Jews to Jerusalem after the expulsion of the crusaders
  • In the 16th Century: the Ottoman esp. Sultan Sulaiman the Magnificent, opened the gates of Jerusalem and Palestine before Jewish refugees from Spain.

 Prof. Amnon Cohen of the Jewish University of Jerusalem stresses the positive attitude of the Ottoman authorities towards the Jews. He observes that the entire supervisory mechanism governing the implementation of religious law was often slanted in favour of the Jews, and that autonomous Jewish life was encouraged by Muslim rulers.

About the Population

Throughout the 1300 years of Muslim rule the number of Jews in Jerusalem and their landed property was minimal in comparison with the Arabs.

  1. In the Mamluk period there were some hundred Jews. In 1483 their number was estimated at 400;
  2. According to Ottoman registers the number of Jews in the middle of the 16th Century was 1,201 out of 12,500. Some years later, in 1572, their number decreased to 500;
  3. In 1871 there were 3780 Jews out of a total population of 14,358;
  4. The number of Jews in Jerusalem increased rapidly from 1882, and especially during the British Mandate.

It is indicative, however, that in 1947 the Jews constituted still a small fraction of the population of the “Old City”: 2,400 out of 36,000, i.e. 7%. They owned less than 1% (0,6%) of the land.

Veneration of Jerusalem in Islam

Israeli historiography has often brought up the claim that “Jerusalem did not command a paramount place in the consciousness of the world of Islam…” etc.

This claim can be refuted on both religious and historical grounds:

For 13 years Jerusalem was first qibla of the Muslims. And the Prophet made his Isra’ (nocturnal Journey) to it, thus underlining its unique place. Hundreds of traditions (Hadith) of the Prophet extol Jerusalem. Consequently tens of thousands of devotees flocked to the city from all over the world including many companions of the Prophet. Hundreds of beautiful monuments were constructed in various Islamic periods, including Sufi (Mystic) establishments and mosques. 

No less than 50 books were written on the merits of Jerusalem in Islam (Fadail Al-Quds) from the beginning of the Fifth Century onwards.

The Ayyubids and Mamluks established more than 50 religious colleges (madaris) in the city and hundreds of small mosques (zawaya).

In Mamluk times the city enjoyed an eminent place in all parts of the Islamic world: Kings of India, Morocco and Ottoman Sultans of Asia Minor sent donations to Jerusalem and embellished it with Waqf Foundations.

Even in the days of the decline of the Ottoman Empire, the sultans paid great attention to the repair and maintenance of the Haram Ash-Sharif (especially the Dome of the Rock and the Aqsa Mosque) and other religious places. The efforts of Sultan Suleiman in building the city are symbolic.

Although Jerusalem was not made capital in almost all Islamic periods, it was always accorded a special attention and respect by various Islamic governments.

If Jerusalem was not one of the administrative enters in the early Islamic period, that was because these centres were to be bases for the Arab Muqatila (troops) to meet their needs in pastures and climate, and to be directly linked to the Arab peninsula. Jerusalem and its Haram were hardly suitable. Suleiman, the Umayyad Caliph, thought of making it his capital. Al-Muazzam Isa, the Ayyubid Sultan, made it his chief headquarters.

It should be noted that Jerusalem had its special governor and Qadi, on equal footing with provincial capitals.

Conclusion

The religious as well as the so-called historical arguments brought forward by the Israelis to justify the expulsion, displacement and dispersal of the people of Jerusalem and Palestine are totally unacceptable by the norms of ethics and to all unbiased students of international law.

If continued residence in a city for hundreds, nay thousands of years, does not give its people an absolute title to it, what else can give.

If the deportation and exchange of whole peoples is allowed after the lapse of centuries of permanent residence, then the change of the whole map of the globe, and the transfer of all nations must on the same grounds be excepted and justified.

The Balfour Declaration – 2nd November 1917

The prayer on the streets of Jerusalem instead of Al-Aqsa is a sight that pains me and gives me strength in equal measure

On Wednesday 29 October the occupation decided to close the Al-Aqsa Mosque for prayer. That is an important infringement on Palestinian rights, but it is not grave and has to be put into perspective. It is the bigger picture that is being lost on us. What we no longer see or hear about in any media outlet or school textbook is the degeneration of the Palestinian struggle for liberation.

We are constantly pushed towards the smaller fights in our conflict with Zionism. Roadblocks, prayer rights, and the struggle for the freedom of the detained all fade in comparison to the right of return of the Palestinian people.

The ethnic cleansing of Palestine, the Nakba that displaced over 800,000 Palestinians, the constant land theft* are the true gifts granted to us (at least in part) by the generosity of “Sir” Arthur Balfour 97 years today on 2nd of November 1917. When he granted Palestine to the zionist movement he was acting in the name of the government of his Majesty the King of Great Britain.

The importance of the Declaration to the zionist entity cannot be underestimated. It is frequently used as a proof of legitimacy by the occupation. In his book The Invention of the Land of Israel Shlomo Sand writes:

“..second only to the Bible, the Balfour Declaration is regarded as the most decisive source of moral and political legitimacy of the Jews’ right to the ‘Land of Israel’.” 

It is that fabrication of legitimacy that we are constantly battered into forgetting by the Zionist entity and its cohort of supporters. By directing media focus on a multitude of increasingly smaller issues we are driven further and further away from the true struggle for liberation. Instead, an exaggerated religiocentric fight is being highlighted to grant an illegitimate entity a right to a land it never should have had. A land it gained through the Declaration.

So in the spirit of remembrance I am going to list below a few points about the Balfour Declaration on the 97th anniversary of its issuance. I hope they refresh your memory. Please share them with others so that they too may remember:

  • The Ottoman Empire was the first target for the zionist advances  that sought to carve out Palestine as a “jewish state”. After the zionist leaders failed in that effort, they turned their attention to other powers and eventually Britain made its commitment in the form of the Balfour Declaration.
  • The Declaration is racist by definition as is clear in its text where no mention of Arabs or Palestinians is made and only reference is given to “non-Jewish communities in Palestine”. Further evidence is given by the author of the declaration himself at a later time when announcing the importance of Zionism:

“Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long traditions, in present deeds, in future hopes, of far profounder import than the desires and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land”

-Arthur Balfour

  • The Palestinian rejection of the Balfour Declaration was and remains to be universal. After it became known to the Palestinians anti-british and anti-zionist riots occurred in 1920 and 1921.
  • While the Declaration smashed the door of the conflict wide open, the “immigration” of jews towards Palestine had started earlier around 1882.
  • The Balfour Declaration was a promise by those who did not own to those who were/are undeserving at the expense of the rightful people of the land. This is a fact that will never change and one that we would do well to remember.
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The Man who promised a land he did not own to the racist zionist movement.

Please have a look at the proposed State of Palestine Mr. Mahmoud Abbas is doing his best to promote. You will not see Palestine. You will see a discontinuous territory that is less than 22% of Palestine. If you want to see Palestine you have to look at maps that go further back in time, maps before 1948 or even further, before the fateful Declaration. Personally I don’t have to look at a map to see Palestine, I can draw it from memory. I will never forget the truth, I will always remember: This land is ours and we shall return.

* Different types of land theft include settlements, the Apartheid Wall, road building and “development” plans (the Prawer Plan for example)

تخيلو معي السيناريو التالي من وجهة نظر الاحتلال: بدل ما اهل غزة ما عندهم اشي يخسروه ليش ما نعطيهم اشياء يخسروها. يبدأ تدفق الاموال النفطية، تسهيل حركة البضائع و الناس برعاية مصرية، تحالف شكلي وصوري ولو بمخاض عسير مع “الضفة” لتسهيل اقصاء الجناح العسكري ووضعه تحت مظلة سياسيي الحركات عن طريق الرواتب. مع الوقت: يصبح مجد “النصر” شماعة لتسهيل اقصاء لأي تحركات مقاومة شعبية وحصرها في الشباب الذي يعمل لوحده كما هو الحال في “الضفة”، التضييق على اي فصيل خارج الاتفاقات الجهاد الاسلامي اساسا.

ليس المقصود التقليل من بسالة المقاومة و تضحيات اهل غزة. المقصود اعادة النظر في “الفرح بالانتصار”.

الطريق لتحرير يافا طويل واي طريق اخر خيانة.

I have been reading this book for a while now. Its called “It’s easier to reach Heaven than the end of the street”

I agree it is a long name for a book.

To some the name might give a hint about the subject to others not so much. Either way to make it easier to all, the book talks about Palestine and the occupation.

Its by an Englishwoman called Emma Williams. I have not yet finished the book but I had to stop and make this comment: the paragraph in the picture contains a LIE. Falafel is not israeli dish!! All the zionist occupiers who came to Palestine prior to the Nakba did not know Falafel! This is a case of success for the occupation in which it has managed to steal yet another part of our culture and identity and claim it for itself. This is not the first time that I or any of you have heard or seen these cases of success but the main reason I took note this time is the remainder of the paragraph in which the writer acknowledges the claim of the occupiers to the originality of the dish as israeli!

As a Palestinian while reading the book I am very conscious of the language used by the writer and I realize that coming from an Englishwoman the book is rather objective but not quite. You have to focus to see the subjectivity of the writer slowly creeping in.

The book discusses the writer’s memoir in Jerusalem during the Second Intifada and while the writer stresses the fact of the occupation of the “West Bank and Gaza” she ignores to a large extent the original crime of ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians and only hints at it. The writer also stresses the grievances of the zionists regarding the “suicide bombings” to a greater degree than the horrors of daily occupation.

While reading you notice zionist complaints being written in the body of the text while the related Palestinian complaint is mentioned in the footnote.

I will not say that the book is completely biased because it is not, but I am also very aware of my feeling that it is a book that could have been a bit fairer to us as Palestinians but then again I did not expect it to be considering most of the world’s view of “Israel” as a legitimate entity while to me it will never be.

I am not sure whether I have made my point clear here but to those of you who know arabic I would recommend that at this point in time you read Mahmoud Darwish’s poem: عابرون في كلام عابر as it comes to mind when i want to say to zionists get out of our lives, our history, our culture and our Land! And leave our Falafel, our Hummos, our Mansaf, our Msakhan and our Kaffiyeh to us!

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The following quote is what Edward Said thinks no Palestinian can forget

Violence has been an extraordinarily important aspect of our lives. Whether it has been the violence of our uprooting and the destruction of our society in 1948, the violence visited on us by our enemies, the violence we have visited on others or, most horribly, the violence we have wreaked on each other.

Edward Said (1986), After the Last Sky, London: Vintage p. 5.

I believe that today this applies to all the oppressed societies in the world. Violence has become such a dominant scene in our lives it has become the norm.

It seems that even our daily struggle for a living is violent. Its a more subtle kind of violence in which we are grinding out our needs from the toughest of stones, but its a daily violence nonetheless.

يجري الحديث دوما عن المقدسات في بيت المقدس وكأنها امر منفصل عن باقي ما يجري في فلسطين من احتلال تبلور كيانا غاصبا قبل ٦٥ عاما ومشروع صهيوني مستمر في المنطقة منذ ما يقترب من ضعف تلك المدة. هذا الحديث يكرس نظرية اصحابه وممارستهم المستمرة التي تدل ان الانسان وحقه في بلادنا امور ثانوية. هذا الفصل بين معاناة الانسان والمقدسات هو محاولة لخلق قضية تستطيع من خلالها الحكومات المختلفة ادعاء مقاومة المشروع الصهيوني من خلال جهود مصيرها الفشل لأنها تعتمد المهادنة طريقا والقانون الدولي وسيلة ولا داعي هنا لأن نذكر قوة وتأثير هذا الطريق على القضية الفلسطينية ولا ان نشرح خوف الكيان الصهيوني من القانون الدولي ونظرته اليه.

ومع انني ارفض هذه السياسة التي تهمش الانسان ومع تأكيدي ان قضية الانسان الفلسطيني بكل اوجهها اهم من قضية الاقصى وكنيسة القيامة المنفصلة إلا انني اود ولو لحظيا ان اقدم شرحا عن احدى المقدسات، كدليل على العجز الرسمي، وانا اعلم انها لن تلقى اهتماما. اقدم هنا بعض المعلومات عن مقبرة ماملا في القدس تلك المقبرة التاريخية التي عمل الاحتلال الصهيوني على ازالة جزء كبير منها منذ عام ١٩٤٨ ويعمل اليوم على ازالة الجزء المتبقي ليقيم بدلا منه متحفا للتسامح!

ملاحظة: المعلومات مستقاة من كتاب: اجدادنا في ثرى بيت المقدس للدكتور كامل جميل العسلي الصادر في عمان عام ١٩٨١ عن المجمع الملكي لبحوث الحضارة الاسلامية

موقعها ومساحتها 

هي كبرى مقابر القدس واوسعها شهرة. تبلغ مساحتها ١٦٨ دونما وتقع الى الغرب من المدينة القديمة على بعد ميل تقريبا من باب الخليل

تاريخها

لا يعرف بالتحديد متى بدأ استعمالها كمقبرة. ارتبط اسم المقبرة بأهم الاحداث التاريخية التي مرت بالقدس كاحتلال الفرس سنة ٦١٤م واحتلال الصليبيين سنة ١٠٩٩م واسترداد صلاح الدين لها سنة ١١٨٧م

بالنسبة للحدث الاول  فإن المؤرخين يقدرون عدد الضحايا بـ ٦٠ الفا من المسيحيين دفن آلاف منهم في ماملا. اما في صدر العصر الاسلامي استعملت ماملا على الارجح كمقبرة حيث ان الصليبيين بعد احتلالهم لبيت المقدس عام ١٠٩٩م القوا فيها بجثث عشرات الالاف من المسلمين الذين ذبحوهم عندما احتلوا المدينة المقدسة

بعد الفتح الصلاحي للقدس عام ١١٨٧م ظلت ماملا تستعمل كمقبرة حتى عام ١٩٢٧ عندما امر المجلس الاسلامي الاعلى بوقف الدفن فيها

دفن في المقبرة عبر العصور اعداد ضخمة من الناس وذلك لقدرها ومكانتها في التراث ومنهم الاعيان والعلماء والصالحون. (يذكر كتاب أجدادنا في ثرى بيت المقدس اسم ١٥٠ من الامراء و العلماء والاولياء والمتصوفين والشهداء والمجاهدين المدفونين في ماملا)

تسميتها

(نقل حرفي لما ورد في كتاب اجدادنا في ثرى بيت المقدس عن التسمية نظرا لأهمية التسمية و اللبس المحيط بها)

الواقع ان هناك قدرا كبيرا من الغموض الذي يحيط بالتسمية

يقول مجير الدين في كتاب الانس الجليل بتاريخ القدس والخليل: “وتسميتها ماملا قيل انما اصله مما من الله وقيل باب الله… ويقال زيتون الملة. روي عن الحسن انه قال من دفن في زيتون الملة فكأنه دفن في السماء الدنيا. وأسمها عند اليهود ملواء وعند النصارى بابيلا. والمشهور عند السنة العامة ماملا”

ويستعمل اهل القدس كثيرا اسم “مأمن الله” ولا ندري اصل هذه التسمية، وربما كان تحريفا لـ”ما من الله” الذي ذكره مجير الدين. وهناك اخرون يشتقون الكلمة من ماء ميلو على اعتبار ان هذا اسم ذلك المكان في غابر الازمان او من ماء ميلو Millo على اعتبار ان هذا اسم قديم لأحد احياء القدس. وفي هذه الحالة يعني ماء ميلو: الماء القادم من ميلو. وكان ميلو في القديم اسم جزء من القدس القديمة جدا عند جبل الضهور (اوفل) وربما كان المقصود عين ام الدرج

ويضاف الى هذه النظريات ما ذكره برنارد الحكيم. وهو احد الحجاج المسيحيين الى القدس في القرن التاسع الميلادي من ان ماملا اسم قديسة مسيحية عاشت في هذا المكان. قال برنارد الحكيم: ” على بعد ميل واحد غربي مدينة القدس تقوم كنيسة القديسة ماملا التي تضم اجساد كثير من الشهداء الذين ذبحهم الشرقيون واجتهدت هذه القديسة في دفنهم.”

والشرقيون المشار اليهم بكلمة Saracens يقصد بهم الفرس الذين احتلوا القدس قبل الفتح الاسلامي عام ٦١٤. لكن الاب برنابا مايسترمان يرى ان كنيسة ماملا لم تسمى كذلك نسبة لقديسة من القديسات وانما نسبة للبقعة المقدسة التي بنيت عليها

هذه هي الاراء المختلفة حول التسمية ولا نستطيع القطع بصحة احدها في هذه المرحلة

أهم معالم المقبرة

لست ادري اي من المعالم المذكورة ادناه مازال موجودا حتى الان ولا ادري ايضا الى متى ستبقى موجودة

١- الزاوية القلندرية

٢- حوش البسطامية

٣- بركة ماملا

بركة ماملا

٤- التربة الكبكية

التربة الكبكية - صورة حديثة

اتمنى ممن يسكنون في فلسطين تزويدي بأي صور لما تبقى من المقبرة او اعمال بناء المتحف الصهيوني

…هالاكمن شغلة خطروا عبالي: يعني كيف

لسا المغتصب يكافأ بزوجة ليغتصبها الف مرة – جريمة ٣٠٨

لسا غزة محاصرة

لسا الاردني المدني بيتحاكم امام محكمة امن الدولة

لسا عديم الشرف بيقتل والقانون بيحميه بإسم الشرف

لسا قانون الانتخابات سيئ

لسا الاسرى والمعتقلين الاردنيين في الخارج مهملين

لسا فلسطين محتلة – من المية للمية

لسا الحياة السياسية المبنية على الاحزاب زبالة

لسا بعض سكان هالوطن شايفين حالهم عغيرهم وعنصريين بلا سبب منطقي

لسا حق اولاد الاردنية بالجنسية مهضوم

لسا سلطة اوسلو وحماس حاكمين

لسا الدين شماعة للحكومة وللمعارضة

ولسا التعليم زبالة والجامعات ساحات معارك

طبعا على الجانب الايجابي للأمور لسا في نية للاصلاح ولسا ناصر جودة وزير خارجية ولسا في امن و امان ولسا حلمي اني اصير احسن من ميسي وكريستيانو واقعي

ملاحظة: لسا اللي كانوا حاكمين قبل الربيع العربي اولاد كلب – واللي حكموا بسبب الربيع العربي اولاد كلب برضه

عالاغلب لسا عقلي حتى ساعة كتابة هذه الكلمات معي (طبعا مش اكيد) بس السؤال الى متى رح يضل معي؟ لأنه شكله الطريق لسا طويل

This is not a post about FCBarcelona’s ugly game against Real Madrid CF or that against AC Milan, though these were two of the worst games that I have seen this team play, nor is it about the team’s recent bad form. It is about a game that will be uglier and in my opinion far more insulting to what this great institution would like to stand for than a competitive match lost here or there. It is a game that is scheduled to be played in July of this year between Barca and a team of “israeli” and Palestinian players.

I am huge fan of FCBarcelona and their amazing football. I have enjoyed the magic for a long time now and I do feel that FCB is as its slogan goes: Mes Que Un Club (More than a club) but the way the club has approached this issue infringes greatly on that maxim and on what any sporting institution should stand for simply because it ignores a simple fact: The issue of Palestine is not that of two communities in need of dialogue, the issue of Palestine is that of occupation, apartheid and ethnic cleansing. Standing at an equal distance between the occupier and the occupied is a clear siding with the occupier.
It might be that FCB and its huge army of fans consider the initiative an opportunity for peace and a friendly that will help the communities bridge their differences but I can assure the club and its army that a different brutal and fully armed army and its state and occupation of Palestine are the main hindrance for the freedom of Palestine and Palestinians and peace.
Just to give 2 examples (of many) of the occupier’s infringements on the footballing scene in Palestine (and ignoring all other facets of life) the zionist entity:
  1. imprisoned Mahmoud Sarsak, a palestinian international football player, for 3 years without a trial and only released him in July 2012 after he went on hunger strike for 3 months and numerous calls for his release by the international community.
  2. During its recent attack on Gaza the IOF bombarded the Palestine Stadium where football matches are held in the Gaza strip (You can read about the attack here and here)

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I am not YET asking FCB or any other european team to boycott teams from the zionist entity on a competitive level, as they should, all I will be asking of FCB for the next few months is to cancel this friendly match and say no to the occupier, its occupation of Palestine and continued violations of human rights. While I believe that a sporting boycott is warranted I am currently only asking FCBarcelona not to deal with the Occupier and the occupied on an equal footing and cancel this Ugly Game.
I want to suggest that you join me in my call… But the decision to do so completely your own.
Note (1): I do not speak on behalf of all Palestinians when I say that the collaboration of the Palestinian National Authority and its Football Association with this game does not make it any less ugly or any less biased.

Note (2): this article in Arabic states that the Palestinian FA has refused the idea of the game.

Note (3): This seems to be an ongoing coverage of a situation. In the most recent news about this Ugly Game, it seems the Palestinian FA has agreed to take part in the game and help whitewash the zionist crimes with the help of FC Barcelona. I wonder who got paid and how much? (Gibril Rujoub)

On this topic also read Abir Kopty’s recent blog post: برشلونة تمنح الاحتلال خدمة اما نحن فخدمتين

I am almost certain that a bad or selective memory is a gateway to ignorance and that ignorance is something that I am literally afraid of.

I have recently noticed that I am becoming very forgetful despite my 31 years of age and that is not good on so many levels including relationships, the professional level and most importantly the intellectual level.

Therefore I have decided to write small briefs about the books I read and like. Mainly to try and preserve my memory and as a secondary benefit I would tell people about the books. I know there are many social media networks dedicated to readers like Goodreads.com, Shelfari.com or even the arabic website Abjjad.com but the problem is I really don’t feel like having one more profile on one more social network or website (the bad memory is not helping with passwords either!!!)

So Hello Everybody and welcome to the first brief of a book on my blog… conveniently the title of the book is:Hello Everybody!

The book is a narrative about the experience of the writer Joris Luyendijk, a Dutch journalist, as a Middle East correspondent for a number of dutch newspapers, radios and television channels between 1998 and 2003. It walks us through the writers own personal discovery of how distorted journalism is in the world in general and how much worse that distortion is when it comes to the Arab World (apparently Palestine is a whole different game!!).

News is determined by news agencies not correspondents or reporters, they also determine the importance of the events and hence the general direction of the media. Journalists and correspondents on the ground are mere “scorers” i.e they are there to say that they are there when an event happens to imply that they have a knowledge that a far away observer does not. The writer contends that due to the nature of the regimes in the Arab World as dictatorships the fact that the correspondent is geographically close to the event offers little advantage due to the lack of transparency, the fear factor and ignorance so imbedded in our societies and the correspondents own lack of courage to admit the absence of solid verifiable information.

The events the writer had the opportunity to cover during his stint in the region included major events such as the bombing of the Al-Shifa Pharmaceutical in Sudan, the siege on Iraq including Operation Desert Fox (1998), the death of Hafez al-Assad, the liberation of the south of Lebanon and 9-11. What the writer faced in his daily work in addition to all these events served to highlight in the writer’s mind, and later in his book one major thought:
“Good journalism in the Arab World is a contradiction in terms”

Rightly, the writer explains this further by writing a simplistic yet witty analogy: “When I went to Cairo as a correspondent, journalistic practice seemed like a set of tools you could unpack and use all over the world. But dictatorships and democracies weren’t two cars of different makes. If democracy is a car, a dictatorship is a cow or a horse. the man who turns up with a screwdriver or a soldering iron is powerless”.

The writer did not feel that he had a wrong set of tools when he moved from Egypt to Lebanon and Palestine at the start of the Second Intifada. There media was not only a tool that told the story or the event, there media was a stage on which the war was being fought. In Palestine it was a media war and Palestinians were losing.

Instead of conveying the truth of the Intifada as a struggle against the occupation the media was professionally manipulated by the israeli side using the gap available in journalism (News agency domination) to feed the media the story about a war between two sides, and our pride as arabs prevented us from playing victim and our incompetence and the nature of the structure of the Palestinian Authority as a dictatorship put the Palestinians played directly into the hands of the enemy.

In his final days as a correspondent in the Middle East Mr. Luyendijk covered the American war on Iraq. Once again he faced a skewed ability by the different parties to deal with the media much like the israeli – Palestinian case this too was managed as an Us versus Them, Good versus Bad. Only this time Hollywood was running the show and Al-Sahhaf was on the other side.

In terms of offering a solution to the problems posed in the book the writer has not done much but the courage to say that he was part of the problem and the honestly with which he has done it compensated for the shortfall in my opinion. The book is very well written and the writer was also able to draw a few smiles on my face even if most of them were born out of a bittersweet joke that cruelly reflects our sad reality. The book is also balanced on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and takes a view tolerant to the existence of the zionist entity a view I do not agree with (nothing against jews though being in Palestine). Despite that I would highly recommend the book as it represents a good account of the skewed perspective with which we are bombarded in the media.

All the respect and support for Omar Saad.

Abir Kopty مدوّنة عبير قبطي

Omar Saad, a young (Druze) Palestinian musician from the Galilee village of al-Mughar has received a summon to the Israeli enlistment army. The Druze citizens of Israel are forced to enlist in the Israeli military, since 1956, when conscription law applied to Druze men (not to other Palestinians). Recent studies show that two thirds of Druze youth would not enlist in the Israeli military if given the choice, read more here.

Omar is one of the many Druze youth who refuse to serve in the Israeli military, in his letter below (which I translated from Arabic), he says it all:

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