Posts Tagged ‘Syria’

Hamas, Hezbollah: A Change of Tone

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Thanks to a Syrian tweet bot, I keep on top of everything that’s said about the country in the Twittersphere. And Today I came across a rather interesting AP article: Netanyahu: Israel open to peace talks with Syria. What caught my attention was not the doublespeak of an Israeli official about peace with Syria. Israelis have expressed no interested in returning the occupied Golan to Syria; To them, Syria has nothing to offer in return. Peace in their logic, is overrated. A simple search in prominent Israeli media shows how prevalent that opinion is.

I was especially interested in the particular use of words in the article. I quote:

It has been a quarter-century since Israel and Syria fought directly, but Syria backs anti-Israel forces like the Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah and the Palestinian Islamic organization Hamas. Israel’s sworn enemy Iran backs Hamas and Hezbollah.

In this article, Hamas and Hezbollah were not referred to as.. *gasp* “terrorist organizations.” Now I was not able to determine if this was an AP policy not to refer to them as such outside of a direct quote, or whether there’s more to the matter. I’m going to layout a few happenings, and let the readers come out with their own conspiracy theories.

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A Few Thoughts to Inaugurate my New Blog

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The Shorty Awards are unique awards for the Twitter community in several categories ranging between humor, entertainment, art, tech, politics, and many others. This year the politics category is on fire with Ali Abunimah becoming a finalist in the competition by popular vote. He basically swept the rug from under the feet of a racist Zionist spreading misinformation like a perfect propagandist tool while claiming to lead a “Jewish Internet Defense Force.” The problem is that David is blatantly racist, although he’s doing a poor job denying it; Most Jewish organizations/people are ignoring him or even outright shunning him. If you happen to have a twitter account and want to help Abunimah maintain his lead in the final round of votes you can go to the his shorty awards page and vote for him from there. Make sure you mention the reason you’re voting for him (e.g. because he supports equality and human rights.)

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I have been in the US for over seven months now. Sometimes a friend asks: “Do you miss Syria?” I always think about that and reply by saying that more than anything I miss the people (and sometimes the food). What makes a homeland is the people inhabiting it before the land itself. In a recent conversation with a Syrian friend whom I’ve never met, he was saying that he didn’t want to leave the country because he didn’t want to have to adapt to a new world and new people.  Distance is becoming more and more irrelevant everyday. People of different cultures are becoming less alienated with every click of a mouse in each forsaken corner of the world. The only real challenge that traveling entails is leaving behind those whom you care about the most; Language is acquirable. Cultural customs are a breeze to get used to. A job or an education are attainable. But how easy is it to brew an indifference towards those closest to you?

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To motivate myself into writing more than one post a month over here; I will start a series of posts about the different projects, websites, and organizations that I have been involved with to various degrees recently.

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I really wanted to include something about Syria in this post, so I looked at Syria-news for inspiration. I can’t say that the news have changed much: Corruption. Embezzlement. A vicious circle of useless talks with Western officials. Another honor killing. Another major traffic accident with dozens injured or dead. The Minister of Social Affairs and Labor, Diala el-Hajj Arif, is still an imbecile; I hate her with the heat of a thousand suns.

Things haven’t changed much.

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سَأعيشُ رَغْـمَ الـدَّاءِ والأَعـداءِ * كالنَّسْـر فـوقَ القِمَّـةِ الشَّمَّـاءِ
أرْنُو إلى الشَّمْسِ المُضِيئةِ هازِئاً * بالسُّحْبِ والأَمطـارِ والأَنواءِ
لا أرْمقُ الظِّلَّ الكئيـبَ ولا أرَى * مَا فـي قَـرارِ الهُـوَّةِ السَّــوداءِ

نشيد الجبار (هكذا غنّى بروميثيوس)،   أبو القاسم الشابّي


For Fuckin' Fuck's Sake! Cut it Out!

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Karim Arbaji has just been sentenced to three years in prison for defending human rights in Syria. Meanwhile, the Syrian blogosphere is bustling with posts advocating admirable and worthy campaigns. There’s the astounding campaign against masturbation, the noble Blogging Week for Moral Decay, and the enlightening campaign for Blogging Against Fossilized Thinking.

The background of this story is this post by Abu Fares, a response ridiculing the infamous call for a campaign against masturbation. The commentators on that post eventually came up with their own ideas for  random blogging campaigns. In essence to further mock that blogger, and the perceived religious bloggers he’s associated with.

I have to say that upon reading about the anti-masturbation campaign I cracked up. Also, I posted about it on Global Voices, sans-sarcasm. Some people were amused by the idea and tweeted the link of the article and a friend of mine wrote to me saying that the campaigner is likely to have a crowd supporting his campaign that you could fit in a phone booth. So, many people find – me included – that idea outrageous, But does that warrant the ridicule of the blogger? Does that make it ok to put aside all the great words and thoughts I’ve seen many Syrian bloggers write on each of their blogs to combine forces to fight this supposed “common enemy” called religiousness?

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Pepsi Max: 0 Sugar, tasteless ad

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Sitting in one of Damascus’s infamous Microbuses (locally known as Servees), A Pepsi Max ad plays on the radio. It goes like this:

Buyer: Give me Pepsi Max.
Shopkeeper: It has no sugar.
B: I know, but it has all the taste.
SP (in dullest most stupid voice imaginable): but it has no sugar.
B: I know! but it has all the tase, why would I want sugar? GIVE ME PEPSI MAX I TELL YOU!

I don’t know what the guys who created this astounding ad were thinking, but what I inferred from the ad was that those who sell Pepsi Max just don’t get it, and those who buy it are douche bags. Excellent selling point.

That said, the Syrian Advertisement industry is largely a national embarrassment. The examples are just too many. but to be fair, every once in a while an advertising agency does come up with ideas that are pure genius, fun, and original. Yet the trend is largely finding a great song or piece of classical music and butcher it by turning it to a bubble gum song or a floor cleaner brand. Ask any Syrian whether they know the Lavicera musical piece, you will be surprised.

Anyways, you would expect an multinational mega-corp like Pepsi with a huge advertisement budget to actually come up with ads that don’t suck. I guess Syrian advertising is still a guaranteed way for a company to shoot themselves in the foot.


هل سئمت من حجب الانترنت؟

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من مثلي سئم من حجب مواقع الانترنت بشكل عشوائي أغلب الوقت، دون نواظم أو قواعد واضحة؟

ساعد مشروع Herdict Web في تكون صورة واضحة عن أي مواقع محجوبة في أي بلد وفي أي وقت، يمكنك فعل ذلك عن طريق موقع Herdict.org أو بتنزيل إضافة لمتصفح فايرفوكس.

المشروع تابع لمركز بيركمان للانترنت والمجتمع التابع لجامعة هارفارد، سوريا الآن ترتيبها الرابع في ترتيب البلدان التي تحجب المواقع بحسب Herdict  الذي أطلق مؤخراً وسيتم إطلاقه بالعربية والصينية قريباً

اضغط هنا لمشاهدة فيديو تعريفي بالمشروع، قمت بترجمة المقطع إلى العربية ويمكنكم اختيار لغة الترجمة من قائمة أسفل الفيديو.

شكراً وورد بريس لتحويل عملية إدراج فيديو ضمن المدونة إلى كابوس!

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Concert: "Echo of Gaza's Children Screams"

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I got the following via email, asking me to publish it here.. I gladly comply

Dear ECHO Members and Friends,

ECHO Musical Cultural Association in collaboration with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) invite you to support the children of Gaza by attending the following fundraising concert:

Concert: “Echo of Gaza’s Children Screams

Performers: – The Syrian National Symphony Orchestra

– The Syrian Military Band

– The Choir of the Higher Institute of Music

Venue: Opera Theater – Dar Al-Assad for Culture and Arts

Date & Time: Tuesday, February 3, 2009 at 7:00 p. m.

All proceeds of the concert will be allocated to Gaza’s Children through the UNRWA.

Ticket prices are as follows:

20,000 SYP (rows: A to F)

10,000 SYP (rows: G to V)

5,000 SYP (first balcony and lodges)

1,000 SYP (second balcony)

Tickets will be sold at Dar Al-Assad from Jan. 25 to 29 (09:00 to 15:15 hrs).

This event will be televised LIVE by the Syrian Television.

Thanking you in advance for your kind contributions,

ECHO

Musical Cultural Association

I just need to add that I’ve already went to a musical performances by The Syrian National Symphony Orchestra, The Syrian Military Band and The Choir of the Higher Institute of Music. They are all amazing and the cause is worth the unprecedented ticket price. GO!


Palestinian Scarf, Resistance 'a la mod'

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Scarf

Picture taken from a magazine ad for a local radio station.

Today, you can hardly walk the streets of Damascus without passing by quite a few young men and women wearing Palestinian scarves, which at one point became a symbol of the resistance and the “Fida’ees”, a symbol of freedom fighters and an ever lingering dream of returning to Palestine which constituted an integral part of the identity of many Arab generations.

But are they really wearing Palestinian scarves? as I recall the original scarf was white with black patterns exclusively, while the ones you see everyone wearing on the streets of Damascus come in a variety of wild colors to appeal to the different tastes of fashionable Damascenes, and to mix and match with any colors of the shirts or shoes they might be wearing. The symbol is now reduced to a mere fashion statement, it is what the “cool kids do.” and the irony of it all is that you can hardly find anyone wearing the original white scarf, which is by their standards plain and totally not cool!

This reminds of something that happened with a friend of mine; he saw someone (a college student) wearing a Che Guevara T-shirt, so he asked him: “why are you wearing this T-shirt?” and that guy replied: “أخي بالمجمل أنا بحب المطربين الأجانب” [dude, I like foreign singers]!

My friend and I developed a habit of yelling “حيو الفدائية” every time one of those fashionistas pass us by in the street.

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They had it Coming

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“So is it you [the Syrians] or the Iranians next on the American list?” Asked a friend of mine in a recent IM conversation, and continued with the following statement “well since both Syria and Iran are democracies and the people elected their governments and can hold them accountable for their actions, they deserve to face the American Wrath.”

I won’t comment on the fact that both regimes are democracies and people can hold their governments accountable. You can’t argue with that since both “repeatedly introduced themselves to the world as being democratic.”

The last outburst of American Wrath has cost the Iraqis 2 million lives and turned about 4 million of them into refugees scattered around the world. Iraqi young women – even minors – resorting/forced into prostitution just to keep there families from starving to death (I’ve personally came across families that can’t afford a daily meal of more than a couple of loaves of bread a day for the entire lot of 6-8 people!) Iraq’s infrastructure is devastated beyond repair, and new explosions are shedding Iraqi blood into the Euphrates so often that even news agencies lost interest in covering the daily hell on earth Iraqis are forced to live through as a consequence of American Wrath. But hey, they had it coming.

Saying that is worse than saying that rape victims brought it upon themselves by wearing revealing clothes, might as well advise them to lay back and try to enjoy it! Despite the “NO it’s not” answer I got when I asked, I still hope the whole idea was nothing more than a sick joke.