February 24, 2007

Cedars Hike

We did some heavy duty snow shoeing today. Just like many people will not associate Lebanon with good skiing, neither will they think of the place where you can do some excellent hiking. This particular hike was in the Ain Zhalta cedar forest. And because it is winter time, we had to use snow shoes.

We had to climb all the way to the summit at about 1,800 meters (where there are, by the way, no cedars), and could have seen the Beqaa Valley, if it weren’t for the fact that we seem to have been hit by a cloud of desert dust coming from Egypt. So we didn’t see anything. It took is a good five hours, walking all the way up and back again.

I know Lebanon has the cedar tree as a symbol on the flag, but there really aren’t that many cedar trees to speak off. There are a number of forests left, but when you say ‘forest’, most often it is not more than a small patch of cedar trees together. There are only 12 separate areas left. The Ain Zhalta forest is one of those 12, one of the larger ones, situated on the upper elevations of the western slopes of the Mount Lebanon chain.

And nothing in Lebanon is ever far away from politics. It seems the Israeli army occupied the forst of Ain Zhalta In 1982, which resulted in, among many other things, the spread of the war to the cedar forest, thus shrapnel damage and mortality to some cedars.

February 23, 2007

Another one

Add another one to the long list of 'middle moat movements'.

Downtown Beirut

This one's for toerisists. The al-Omari mosque downtown Beirut, also known as the Great Mosque (although it must be the smallest mosque in that area by now). It was originally a cathedral, the Cathedral of St. John, built by the Crusaders between 1113 - 1115 A.D. Beirut was captured on 27 April, 1111, by Baldwin I, King of Jerusalem, and with the exception of short intervals was held by the Franks till 1241.
When they decided in 1291 that - in view of their chances for survival - departure from the Holy land and its surroundings was probably the best decision, the building was transformed into the city's Grand Mosque by the Mamlukes. And it has been a mosque ever since.
It’s a beautiful building. I took this picture from the other side of the fountain, where there is this security guy who is forever telling you (and he was already doing this before 2005) that it is 'mamnouah' (forbidden) to make pictures, and who gets forever ignored by me.
You see, by the way, in the distance, the spires of another two religious buildings; a church and then a mosque again, I believe. Or maybe it's the other way.

Man on the Street

I saw this old man peddling I don't know what last Saturday. I passed him just like that, I think he was resting there. When I got home and looked at the picture, he reminded me of pictures in old books, in an age when this was the way some people used to sell their goods, back in the early 1900's. I wish I had bought something from him now. He's not a beggar, he is actually working for a living. He must have been in his 70's. But maybe younger. Life is not easy on you when you are poor in this country.

February 21, 2007

“Who’s the punk with the aviator glasses?”

“Who’s the punk with the aviator glasses?” a colleague of mine asked, as we passed by this portrait. Ah, yes. Indeed. My colleague is a foreigner, and ignorant to Lebanon’s finer knowledge of politics. So where do you begin?
While looking for more stenciled grafitti on the walls of Beirut, we ran across this poster. A ‘punk with aviator glasses’ indeed. What serious politician would want to portray himself like a ‘wise guy’? It is a memory of the ‘good old’ days. And he was one of the 'good ol'e boys'.

With this spate of politicians and journalists being blown up, everyone’s picture is up on the wall. And everyone’s a hero. They opened a can of worms with this thing, because now some of the more infamous crowds are back on the wall as well. Some people think that now is the right time to put up some of the ‘old’ heroes; people that were assassinated one way or another well before Hariri got killed. And though they may be heroes to some, they are just plain and simple 'civil-war-militia-leaders-slash-criminals' to others.

We can’t ask this particular man in question why a serious politician want to portray himself this way; he was blown to smithereens in 2002. Car bomb; a popular Middle Eastern device, used for exposing of unwanted opponents. (For outsiders; his name is Elie Hobeika, and he is generally seen as the man behind the Sabra and Chatila massacres (beware; Wikipedia is not an actual encyclopedia) in Beirut in 1982. There will be people that will argue with that. Point is, nobody knows, just like nobody really knows who blew him up either, although they must have been lining up for that job. His ex-body guard, Roger Hatem, wrote a pretty horrific biography of the guy. After he left his service. Unauthorized, I might add (the writing, that is). It was fun reading; nice Beirut gossip.)

I doubt Hobeika would have voted for this cheap shot of himself on the walls of Beirut. He was much to clever for that. But there he is; a punk with aviator glasses. Memories of Lebanon's ‘good old’ days, on the walls of Beirut.
I did find some stenciled art though, (see up) but MacDara’s and Nicolien’s boy seem to have been erased, by the way. I couldn't find them.)

February 19, 2007

Girls in the Hood

Didn't we all wonder who those girls in the car were? The one that won the World Press Photo? Well, the verdict is in; We now know the identity of the five.
They are four christians and one muslim, but they are not gawking over the alien scenes in the southern suburbs of Beirut. They are, and I quote one of the girls, “appalled at the destruction of our neighborhood, you can see it on our faces.” They are girls from the hood, so to say.

A wonderful piece in a Dutch newspaper (not mine) reveals the identity of the five. They all live in the southern suburbs themselves, they say, except for one. Four of the car occupants are from Dahiya, one is from Shiah. They are Jad (22), Bissan (29), Tamara Maroun, Liliane Nacouzi (22) en Noor Nasser (21). They met each other during the war in a Hamra hotel (story doesn’t say which hotel) where they were staying because they had to flee their own neighborhood. Noor is the only muslim in the company, the rest are christians living in Haret Hreik, which was originally a christian neighborhood. (Can anyone verify this for me? Do we still have a large population of christians living in Haret Hreik? I’d be pleasantly surprised.) Lana El Khalil (25), is the owner of the red cabriolet, which is actually - she says – an orange mini cooper, and she used that car during the war to do volonteer work for Samidoun, an organization that helped victims of the July war. She points to the sticker on the dasboard as proof. Lana left her apartment in Hamra during the war in order to let refugees move in (?), while she moved into the apartment of her parents (I am just quoting the newspaper here). Jad was driving the car for her. The rather ‘sexy’; clothing, as the newspaper calls it, is due to the fact that “Lebanese find a glamorous image quite important. Even if you are not rich, you can still look glamorous.” According to Bissan, none of the girls are from a middle-class family. “We were appalled at the destrcution of our neighborhood, you can see it on our faces.”

Hat tip to Ddaniel and Carolien!

February 18, 2007

Portraits III

Another one of Bashir Gemayel. “Photography isn't my only hobby, I think I mentioned this before but I also like spray painting.”
A stencil graffiti of Yasser Arafat in Burj el-Barajneh refugee camp in south Beirut, the largest refugee camp in Lebanon's capital. (Both images come from Flickr. They're linked to the source)

Portraits II

I found another one on Hamra. Not myself though, but a photographer who did. I think this is the same artist as the one who did the lady with the hands clasped to her head. Who will fill me in on the Arabic? Will the real artist please get up?
Update: And the translation is is. "My ambition has no limits". Thanks, anonymous)

February 17, 2007

Portraits

Anonymous lady - Abdel Nasser - Z (?) - Bashir Gemayel
I hadn't really noticed them, until I posted the picture of the lady. And then suddenly I saw these portaits all over Beirut. I know I've seen one of Hariri somewhere, but can't remember where. (If anyone knows, let me know, I want to add him to the collection) Nasrallah must have 'm too. That man is being commerzialized at a very rapid pace; I was just in a store when the owner tried to sell me a clock with his face (Nasrallah) on it. Now even if you do like the guy, I cannot imagine wanting to buy that clock. But in 40 years from now, it will sell as vintage kitch, I am sure. But I will add him to the collection if he's spray painted on a Beirut wall. Anyone?

February 15, 2007

On Gun Sales and Car Alarms

They say gun sales are up in Lebanon. I wouldn’t know; I’m not in the arms industry (although I did look for that label when blogger asked me to profile myself, but arms industry did not feature on the scroll down list of options).
They make it sound like it’s the US over here, where you can go out and buy semi-automatic guns over the counter. All I ever have seen going over the counter here are hunting rifles.
Nobody has offered me anything yet either. I assume you must be affiliated to certain political parties to be in the market for guns. Or maybe to any party.

Now if guns were readily available and for sale, I would be in the market for a nice RPG. And the first thing I would do is get up in the middle of the night, just when everyone is nice and snug asleep in their warm beds, in deep dreams, and aim at that filthy Mercedes that had its car alarm going off sixteen times last night. Sixteen times! And no owner in sight to turn it off. No, we had to listen to the entire cycle of all nine intricate alarm sounds before it stopped. Sixteen times! That car would be the first one to succumb to my road rage with my newly acquired RPG. I am all for gun control, but this Mercedes really pushes the odds.
I can just see myself, standing on the balcony in the middle of the night, in my jimmies, with this RPG on my shoulder.

Not that a car alarm has any use. There is no police on the street at night, (other than those patrolling with their alarm lights on. Did anyone explain them yet what the use is of those alarm lights? Don’t they teach this at the Police Academy. Is there a Police Academy here?) and nobody is going to check out the alarm on anybody else’s car.
Besides, by the time you figure it is your car they are tampering with, you got to slip on some clothes, push the elevator button, wait for the elevator because the thing inevitably stopped on the ground floor, wait for it to come up, get in, wait for it to arrive on the ground floor, by which time the thieves are already in the Beqaa valley with your SUV. That’s where I hear they take all stolen cars.

The only time the car alarm goes off in this town anyway is
1: when it thunders (which it did the entire night last night),
2: when a cat jumps on the hood of the car (lots of street cats here, especially around the bins),
3: when a police Harley drives by (yes, Lebanese police ride around on Harleys) or
4: when a tank drives by.

Believe me, it has not yet deterred any thief. Now an RPG would.

February 13, 2007

Should We Cancel the Meeting?

Six of us are in a meeting with the boss. It’s mostly locals, but the boss is a foreigner. And since a bomb just exploded that morning on a bus with commuters, with a number of casualties, the boss wonders whether we shouldn’t cancel the meeting.

So the boss says: “I don’t know how you guys feel about this meeting. I mean, are we okay about this meeting? Or would you rather go home?”

The following conversation develops among the six locals;
“Nah, we fine.”
“Sure we’re fine. Why, did something happen?”
“Didn’t you hear about the bus?”
”Yes, I did, but that was this morning. Did anything else happen?”
”No, just the bus bomb.”
“Oh no, then I’m fine.”
"Yes, m too."
“Yes, we’re used to it.”
“Oh, it’s normal thing.”
“Not that we don’t care about the people that died.”
“Oh no, it’s not that, we care, you see, it’s just that . . “
“Well, it’s not the first time.”
“Yes, that’s right. It’s not the first time.”
“I mean, it happens all the time.”
“And it’s quite far away too.”
“Yes, it’s not even in the neighborhood.”
“No, it’s far away. Nothing to worry about.”
“Not now at least.”
“Yes, we’ve been through this before.”
”Yes, we have. If we are going to cancel every meeting every time something explodes, we are not going to have any meetings anymore.”
Laughter erupts.

And so we continue the meeting. But at the same time, we are wondering. We are not going to end up in the same shit as the Iraqis, right?

Now Can We Have Our Flag Back?

Helem, (the Arabic acronym of "Lebanese Protection for Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgenders") has the same logo as certain political movements within Lebanese society. Helem was first however, and they would like their logo back.

February 11, 2007

Good skiing

The shia-sunni divide story has been written and sent out; I'll link it when it gets published. Probably Wednesday. Wednesday another big demonstration is planned. I wonder when people will tire of it all. Last Friday I went to the ‘resolve it.solve it’ demo. The plan was to form a human chain all around the Damascus Rd, but they were lucky to gather enough people to make it to Sodeco Square. It’s a nice enough initiative, but quite na├»ve. All the people that showed up are your upper class leftists. A mixture of English, French and Arabic was spoken. This is not the Lebanon that is going to decide on the issues.
My paper now wants a story on the four ladies in the red cabriolet, you know, the one that won the World Press Photo. If anyone can enlighten me there, please do so. I read on one blog that (s)he knew the lady in white, it was a maronite lady living in Dahiye. I’ll believe that story when I see her ID card. (Do they still mention religion on the ID? I didn’t think so.)

Skiing was sensationally good today. Excellent snow, gorgeous weather, very few people on the slope, no line ups at the lifts. It doesn't get that good that often. For a Sunday, it was downright quiet. How come people aren’t skiing anymore?
Yesterday I went to Sodeco, to get a book. But the bookstore was gone, and so were many other stores at the Sodeco Square. That shopping center is obviously not working very well these days. I crossed over to Monot, and noticed many empty store fronts where there had been shops before. Business is not going so well these days. Everybody is downsizing, or closing up. Downtown hasn’t been working since Hezbollah moved in last December. Some people are complaining that the country is slowly bleeding to death. Something’s got to give, but nobody wants to be the one to compromise.

Back to Beirut

February 10, 2007

Nothing in Particular

Okay, so it is not World Press Photo Material, but I still thought they made a pretty flower arrangement near this tree; flowers on a street in Beirut. No idea why it was there, but there it was.
And I see this ‘My Full Moon’ text popping up all over Beirut. At least the parts that I frequent. Another movement that I missed out on? Pro 14 March? Pro 8 March? March 11? Fill me in.
And to show you that not all is lost yet; three of my good friends; a christian, a shia and a sunni. (I refuse to capitalize religion). All are spoken for, I believe, so no need to mail me.

February 09, 2007

Winner of the World Press Photo of the Year 2006


Young Lebanese drive through devastated neighborhood of South Beirut, 15 August, 2006

Remember this one? It was argued that it was photoshopped. Well, it isn’t. The photographer, Spencer Platt, just won the World Press Photo with it.

And whether you like it or not, but I am just writing a story about the sunni - shia divide today, and this picture tells it all.

World Press Photo jury chair Michele McNally describes the winning image: "It's a picture you can keep looking at. It has the complexity and contradiction of real life, amidst chaos. This photograph makes you look beyond the obvious."

Mud Slinging

It is amazing how the two movements (March 8 and March 14) use every possible means to sling mud at each other. They even use Wikipedia (which is a source that needs to be triple checked in itself anyway) to discredit one another.
As I was doing some background research on the Arab University where fighting broke out on January 25 between the two movements, I stumbled upon this Wikipedia article.

It did have a NPOW warning (neutral point of view), but it is till under an ‘encyclopedia' heading. The NPOW read:
This is not a neutral point of view; al-Manar is a Hezbollah-operated TV station and not a reliable source because Hezbollah itself is active in this conflict. Something Wicked 14:12, 29 January 2007 (UTC)

Quite a few people are worried about a return to the civil war days. The situation is after all quite similar.
Then it was a power struggle between the more affluent christians that had the power majority (6:5) over the muslim part of the population. As they grew in numbers and had access to education, they demanded a greater share of the cake. 15 years later, at a conference in Taef (hence the name Taef accord), they got their greater share; a 5:5 ratio between christians and muslims in politics (and also a 5:5 ratio between shia and sunnis).
Now it’s a discord between the sunni muslims (they are the more affluent ones, as I have been told, but can’t vouch for that) versus the ‘downtrodden’ shia (as Musa Sadr called his movement) who are not happy with their 5:5 ratio. They feel they are in the majority anyway, so why be satisfied with a 25% of the power? Now some people will violently dispute this.

You wonder why they don’t just take a census? Well, that’s a bit of a painful subject. What if the results are not what you expected? You just accuse the others of rigging the count of course, seems simple enough.

I am interviewing a professor of politics today. Let’s see if he can enlighten me any further. But these days you need to have two sources for everything. Before I can use his quotes, I’ve got to figure out what block he supports, and then find his counterpart in the other block to ask the same questions and compare the answers. Tiresome, this business with the two movements.

But I don’t think we have to worry about a return to the dark days. Times have changed. Everyone’s got digital cameras and internet access these days. People will just not be able to get away with atrocities the way they used to. Their faces will be uploaded faster than a New York minute, and stuck on the web for generations to come.

February 07, 2007

Peace Movements

“So what is the deal between the shia and the sunni’, my paper asked? Yes indeed, what is the deal? It sort of escaped me for a while, this whole sunni - shia thing. I thought it was a pro-Syria – anti-Syria issue, but somehow along the way it has transformed itself in a shia – sunni movement. But it is not really a religion thing, as I understood from someone I interviewed today.

The Green Line which formed the dividing line between christian East and muslim West Beirut from 1975 - 1990.

Iran, a shia nation, has interest in the shia compartment of the Lebanese population as it can be used in Iran’s everlasting battle against the Big Satan; Israel (or the US the big Satan?). Bugging Israel will ultimately also bug the US, and thus you catch two birds with one stone.
Syria has an interest in a destabilized Lebanon (among other things), and they’ll back up whoever will destabilize it for them. Hezbollah (shia) seems to be the horse they are betting on this time, but they have - over the years - betted on a variety of horses, including christian ones. For the Syrian leadership it is not really a religious issue either; they do not like the sunni nor the shia; they go for the alawite branch of Islam.

The other side (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, France and the US) is not really interested in religion either. They just want to 1) bug the Iranians, 2) bug the Syrians, 3) bug everyone and destabilize the Middle East, so they are backing up those that will do that job for them in Lebanon. The sunni happened to be willing to do it this time. And so we are divided. Of course it is not that simple. But it will do for the Dutch.

The christians have been sort of evicted from the game; they’re on the sidelines. Aoun seems to have expelled himself lately by one dumb move after another. Rumors of a bipolar disorder are circulating, and it wouldn’t surprise me. But maybe it is just a set-up from the opposition. I bet they also gave him that ‘photo shopped’ picture. Ruthless, I must say, but a clever move.

But if you think we are in a mess; go look at the Iraqis. The Iraqis seem to be in a similar boat as us at the moment, but sinking fast. Apart from the sunni – shia divide, they also have to deal with an occupying force that is a bit of a sore issue to both sides. I watch this talk show on alJazeera on Tuesday evenings. It always end up in a shouting match, and one of the worst things you can accuse an Iraqi shia of, is calling him a ‘Persian’.

What I find much more fascinating though, is the number of Lebanese movements that are showing their discontent with the current political players. They are popping up like mushrooms. Are the Lebanese finally politicizing? A short line-up:

There is the Movement of March 11 (The ‘Let’s meet in the middle’ Movement).
They figure that the two main movements, March 8th (Hezbollah & Co) and March 14th (Government and anti-Syrian factions) should meet somewhere in the middle, let’s say March 11. The March business refers to dates in 2005 when the two movements held major demonstrations. Both claimed to have had over a million people attending. Mazen Kerbaj, a Lebanese cartoonist, concluded that there must be 2 million Lebanese that stayed at home.
March 11 wants to set up a big gathering on, you’ve guessed it, March 11. Let’s see if they gather a million.

There is the Ana Mish Min Hada (The ‘I’m not with anyone’ Movement)
They had a couple of gatherings in December. I went to one of them. Not very vibrant. But they were the first. I have not heard of the movement since.

The ‘Women Say No to Civil War’ Movement.
They had a demonstration a couple of days ago near the National Museum. That National Museum has the omnimous name of ‘Mathaf’, and was once the main crossing point on the "Green Line" division during the 1975-1990 Civil War. They say "We reject internal fighting as a means to achieve political goals, and call on all political leaders to return to dialogue in order to reach a national, non-confessional solution".

The ‘Resolve it, Solve It’ Movement.
The RESOLVE IT. SOLVE IT movement is a group of ‘unaffiliated concerned Lebanese citizens tired of being marginalized and ignored’.They say basically the same. “As concerned citizens we reject empty promises, propaganda, subliminal calls to violence, and sectarian rhetoric. We refuse civil war. Act immediately before it is too late. “ They have a demonstration coming up this Saturday, February 12. I'm going to check it out.

Jamal is lobbying for more movements.

February 04, 2007

Dilemmas

If Beirut is not in the news , you might assume that things are quiet over here. Yes, they are, but it is not as in a ‘peaceful’ quiet. Beirut’s street are empty. Restaurants and hotels and shops are empty too. Partially because we’ve been hit by some bad winter storms. And partially because the economy seems to have hit an all time low. I know of several hotels that have sent half of their staff home, and the other half gets 50% of their pay. But basically because it is the proverbial silence before the storm; The inhabitants of Beirut expect another storm to be unleashed; a sectarian one. Back to civil war days? It seems many people do fear this.

Back to the old days?

This uncertainty is unsettling, and unlike anything I have ever experienced before. A fellow blogger, Jamal, phrases it very nicely:

‘Short term planning has been reduced to spur of the moment decisions. Dinner tonight is a long term plan. Your reservations are a Tic-o-tac ticket. You might feast, but more likely you'll stay hungry. Too many variables could change between now, lunchtime, and then, dinner time.

While planning a weekend trip for next weekend would be considered too short a notice in most parts of the world, these days here it is called ambition. I aspire to watch the Superbowl sunday night. I have a dream ... of a Wednesday hump.

Next month? Next year? Are you fucking kidding me? That's the afterlife, you go on doing things as you see right and hope that in the end your faith won't let you down.’

This uncertainty raises quite a lot of dilemmas. Dilemmas I never had to deal with before.
I am planning to upgrade my motor home. But will I be able to go back home this summer? If there is a ‘conflict’ (let’s put this nicely and positively), I need to stay and work for the paper. I missed last summer, cannot afford to lose another one. So should I upgrade that motorhome?
Lois called me from Korea to ask me when I’d be in France so she can coordinate her ticket and we’ll meet. But what if the situation changes? I can honestly not say when I will be in France, or even IF I will be in France. Should I give her a date?
I’m thinking if redoing the kitchen. But if an all-scale war erupts, and it takes a long time, what’s the use of a new kitchen? If it is short term, I’ll take the risk. If it is long term, I won’t. But how will I know if it will be short-term or long term? People back in 1975 probably thought things were going to look up soon. Well, it took some 15 miserable years. So should I redo this kitchen? Or not bother about it.
And what if things go really wrong? When schools close down all the time, and it is not safe in the neighborhood anymore for the children. Should we leave, or should we stay? I know families that left. Now their kids are neither Lebanese nor American. They don’t fit in either societies. Or half in both.

Ah, dilemmas dilemmas!
Another 'old' Beiruti home being torn down. This one is one a type of cliff overlooking the Meditarranean (Ras Beirut, Manara). It's got a vast garden, like a jungle. I've had my eyes on this property ever since I moved to Beirut. Always waited for a 'For Sale' sign. But that is not the 'Beirut' way. So now it fell into the hands of yet another property 'developper' that will mutilate the Beirut sky-line. They should have sold it to me; I'd have kept it the way it was.

February 03, 2007

Strange Art

I just got back from the framer. He finished framing (hence his name) two pictures for me, to add to my collection of rather ‘odd’ art. Living in this part of the world you run into some unusual objects, and I drag it all home.

Shrapnel
For instance, my extensive collection of shrapnel. I have gathered a large assortment of ‘important’ shrapnel. Important in the sense of ‘significant’ events. I’ve got a big chunk from a car from the Hariri bomb, I’ve got shrapnel from Tueni’s car bomb and I’ve got shrapnel from basically all major Israeli bombardments that have hit this country the past 14 years. I’ve got a few pieces from the 1996 disaster in an orange grove near Sarafand where an Israeli patrol walked into a couple making out in an old taxi, and got decimated in the process (both couple and 11 Israelis, if I remember correctly.) I used to have all the shrapnel lined up neatly, but they got to be too many, so now I’ve gathered them all in a bowl.
Anyone else in Lebanon that has some shrapnel lying around the house? Raise your hand! I bet it’s not just me with this odd habit.

Cutlery
Another collection is my Cutlery Set. I started this one when I found an Israeli army fork in Souq el Gharb, where a major battle took place between the Lebanese 8th Mechanized Infantry Battalion (led by Michel Aoun who, btw, currently has his eyes set on the Presidency of Lebanon) and Palestinian and muslim forces in September 1983. I don’t know how an Israeli fork got there. The Israelis had invaded Lebanon then, but I am not sure what they were supposed to be doing up there on that hill. Doesn’t matter, the owner of the fork probably did not live to retell it, as twisted as it was. And then I started seeing cutlery at every bomb site. The latest addition is a silver-plated spoon from the southern suburbs.

Pamphlets
But my favorite is the Eviction Notes collection. I am especially proud of that one. The Israelis have a sort of Advanced Warning System developed when they intend to bomb you; they flood the neighborhood with pamphlets, announcing that they really, really regret it, but they see no other option, and that it is in your own interest anyway, so – for the sake of your own health – you might want to look for safer quarters for the moment. During the summer war, there were 47 leaflet missions over Lebanon, with a total of more then 17,000,000 leaflets dropped.
The oldest one I have dates from the 1982 invasion, when the Israelis surrounded the city and threatened to flatten the place unless the PLO got out. The PLO evacuated to Tunis, and Beirut got bombed anyway. Okay, so it was to be some years later.

This one got dropped in July of 2006. It reads:

To the People of Lebanon
Hezbollah declared war on Israel.
We all know Israel's enormous power and ability to mobilize her forces against terrorist organizations whenever necessary.
People of Lebanon:
If you sleep in a cemetery, you are bound to have nightmares.
Israel is a powerful nation and determined to do whatever necessary to ensure the safety of her citizens!!!
The State of Israel

February 02, 2007

The Power of Arabic

This reminded me of a story of Raed, the blogger who got refused on a national flight in the States for wearing a T-shirt with Arabic writing on it (The message read 'We refused to be silent"). A fellow passenger deemed the Arabic writing 'threatening'. Well, fellow passengers like that can be pretty anoying.

My brother send me this joke. I can't read the Arabic though. Fill me in. Probably something very silly.
(Update: 'Anonymous said... it's just random characters. Don't mean anything and aren't even attached to each other.' Look at the power of Arabic
Another update from another blogger: "They aren't random letters - the coding is off. The letters are grouped by word, but in reverse order. To me it sounds like something written by a fellow ASL'er .
And yet another update from Nicolien; check her in the comment section; she solved the puzzle)

If you are sitting next to someone who irritates you on a plane. We've all been there. Well, here's what you can do:
1. Quietly and calmly open up your laptop case.
2. Remove your laptop.
3. Boot it.
4. Make sure the guy who bugs you alone can see the screen.
5. CLick on this link
6. Close your eyes and tilt your head up to the sky.

February 01, 2007

WWF a la Libanaise

This one is for the Dutch Only today.

DUTCH
Een fantastisch stukje, geschreven door Peter Speetjens, correspondent voor De Standaard, over de huidige LIbanese politieke situatie. Heel leuk. Moet je lezen!