Wednesday, January 28, 2009

forcibly articulated inevitably conflicted initial responses to the exciting obama era.

There is a notable shift in U.S diplomatic/political discourse with the advent of Obama's presidency, surely, overnight almost, there is a remarkable change of tone, one that is less hostile, more humane, or rather, humanizing. The fact that Obama realizes that arab news/media outlets even exist, i suppose, is noteworthy, as is his messages of "listening rather than dictating" which he described as having been previous U.S methodology. Granted, it is a great achievment to hear that we are finally being conceived as creatures with voices, rather than the condescending paternalism we've all gotten used to the past, oh, decade or so. However, as an egyptian, im getting really tired of being so grateful for the west's tiny little favors such as "listening" or "recognizing" our existence as humans. Sure, Obama is making some great gestures, but they are only as great as their predecossrs were miniscule, and as person with a mind, thinking, assessing, i refuse to be so grateful over something i should by all means take for granted. I guess we should resort to "optimism" about this discourse, but i cant bring myself to diminish my optimism to such grotesquely diminshed standards as small as being consulted in the course of my own destiny and that of my region and people.
(but then again why should we expect more from the U.S than our own leaders ever conceived of giving.back and forth, back and forth.)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Pee at the end of the line, please.

Today was a peculiar day, much like any other day, such as yesterday.
It started out with tragedy in the office, which I wont get into, seeing as- well- I dont feel like it.
I had to do some errands, mundane. I went to pay the phone bill in a central "Egypt Telecom" office, in the heart of downtown Cairo and that's where I noticed one striking peculiaritiy. Lo and behold, we have developed, sexually segregated lines. What the hell? Thought I. There were actually two windows, one said "women" and one said "men" I wondered if I was going to pay my bill at the end of line or strip down and take a pee on the counter.
When did this become normal protocol, wondered I. and why? I wonder if this was a real decision made by the highest telecommunications authorities or whether it was just one of those loopholes where a mid-level employee sees the opportunity to take an initiative and can identify only one problem: unisex lines. the horror. I really hate it when people take protocol into their own hands, it happens way too often in this country and its always related to boy-girl proximity, pathetically enough. Receptionists in hotels who refuse to check in mixed gender groups even in DIFFERENT rooms. What dicks. . I've seen some spontaneous sexually seperated lines form in the metro when it gets crowded- people just feel more comfortable rubbing up on the same sex in those circumstances, that I can understand. But why are we spurting out signs to prohibit inter-genital queues now? And FYI the place was totally deserted. So when this thing spreads like cancer, in the railway stations and the mogamaa' and the airports, you can say the diva said it first!

Monday, January 12, 2009

غزه تحت النيران

I've seen the image before but I loved the caption.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Another Qualm

Yes I have been engulfed by the bloodbath in Gaza, I have been invested, I have been following and thinking, assessing, and stopping and cursing.
Yet there is a conflict that never resolves itself (no, not the Israeli-Palestinian one...) and its a convuluted debate that always emerges when Egyptians get together and talk about "Palestine" and how much you do/should/want to care and what your priorities as an Arab/Muslim/Christian/Agnostic/Egyptian should be/are.

Most recently, I was reading the Badeel coverage of Gaza. But it would be deceptive to say that while I was reading, it was Gaza that dominated my thoughts. Of course it was when I read numbers and figures; 100 children dead, over 2000 injured. I think of Gaza.
But when I read of 40 Egyptian religious scholars writing a press release stating that armed resistance is the way to get back Gaza, I think of Egypt, I think of our academic institutions, I think of our scholars. And when I read about the statement made by the "Egyptian people's Committee for Solidarity with the Intifada of the Palestinian People" I think of Egyptian activism, of the Palestinian diaspora in Cairo, of refugees, of legislature, of civil society and of the (in)competence of the opposition. When I read this : I think: thats disgusting and retarded. When I read about Amr Khaled's campaign for blood donation I am contradictor: yay for blood, ew for Amr Khaled.

And when I read about thousands of demonstrations going on all over Egypt, spreading outside of Cairo, to Domyat to Sohag to Alexandria, I am impressed and I think I am wondering if I am filled with hope. But then I read that the Egyptian police dispersed these demonstrations with tear gas and electric batons, they beat the demonstrations apart, i dont think of Gaza. I think what the fuck? and i think did anyone just notice that? And I think it should have its own article, it should be every article in every national newspaper. No, I think, in this convulated debate, Egyptian brutality in repressing demonstrations about Gaza shouldnt be engulfed in a piece about Gaza, and again I am pressed to think: so what about Gaza.....and it keeps. spirals, and spirals away.

Lili's post

About Gaza. Well, generally I am filled with disgust, followed by frustration, and then I disguise it with indifference. Some solidarity, some militant desires, some fire. Some ashes. We're going a little crazy here in the office, but its even more frustrating to see the futility of an entire band of international human rights lobbyists, who were told by partners in Brussels to "forget about pressuring the EU" or the EU itself, whose new presidency (czech just took over EU presidency with 2009) who originally made the statement that what Israel is doing is self defense...

On the other hand, its inspiring (if you overlook that while im watching my colleagues in action ambulances and mosque are getting bombed indiscriminantely)- to see how creative their initiatives are becoming. Again, though, its disullisioning to see how SLOW the process is, if only because, for example, the strikes began (very calculatedly) during xmas and new years holidays. Ugh.

I wrote a few posts about it on my blog, lacking most coherency. Israel Palestine has always been an issue wherein i cant gather enough energy, or repress enough rage to actually go into detangling geo-political or strategic theories or whatever. its usually my cue to start dreaming of dematerializing and travelling as molecules of energy to another universe and a prettier existence. But I'd miss my family and chocolate too much. And then I feel bad about having unlimited access to chocolate, while others havent had access to heating oil in over a year and that while their plight evokes escapist fantasies in me, for them, there is hardly means for escape. And it goes on, you if anything, if you've been there, you should be the one telling ME more balancing insights.

Who's going to make it?

I've always had a particular qualm about spreading pictures of bloodshed. Mostly because in this part of the world, in this particular conflict, the images have been exploited and compromised, repeatedly, mutilating the mutilated twice over.

This picture on the left resonated with me, the man reportedly screaming over his two sons and nephew and wailing "they've killed my family. Im an orphan"...

Again, its deceptive to reproduce his words and pretend that that deepends my understanding of his strife, or makes my sympathy more authentic. I've seen men on their knees for their children, I've seen them held back by their relatives, I've seen it in funerals, I've seen it after accidents, I've seen it underneath my own house, and inside other people's houses. but I havent' seen this. And I couldnt shake the image, I couldnt turn away from a father who is rendered an orphan while his babies lay lifeless on a cold hospital floor. And I can't blink while the number's still rising.

Monday, January 5, 2009

"Shake and Bake"

Israel denies the use of illegal phosphorus shells in Gaza...even though it admits to using it two years ago in Lebanon..then its also very convincing when they say that they use "only weapons allowed for under international law" and clearly, they are very stringent about the non violation of international law.. and war crimes and above all: PROPORTIONALITY, of there's really no reason to doubt their word. Well who am I to complain? The Security Council seems to think that both parties should end military activities and meanwhile, the first week of the new EU presidency by the Czechs (France never looked so good) has already managed to cause conflicting statements and misunderstandings after the EU came out looking like it was condoing the attacks as actions of "self defense". Egypt, on the hand, steadfast in protest about having international observors sharing its gaza borders, probably because then they'll see all the African migrants the border police shoot dead trying to cross over to Israel. Other Arabs took more drastic measures such as cancelling new years parties leaving Nancy Agram with an unexpectedly free evening, and playing Quran instead of back-to-back old episodes of Friends. When the UAE takes away your sitcoms, you know the international community is in shambles.

Evil Exists (call me simplistic)

On Gaza. Al Ahram Weekly and The Independent let the experts do the talking

A disturbing mix: deceptive electioneering in Israel and dispicable inaction from the lack the Egyptian government's need to gather votes.

Mustafa Barghouti cuts down the myths Israel spins in the media to justify its most recent campaign of slaughter:
With these myths understood, let us ponder the real reasons behind these air strikes; what we find may be even more disgusting than the act itself.

Robert Fisk: The rotten state of Egypt is too powerless and corrupt to act

Why do I like HMLC?

this .

Friday, January 2, 2009

Facebook gives you a shorter life.

In re-learning the rules of keeping a blog, trying to preserve a free flowing discursive practise, im trying to tell myself that theres not some things i "should" blog about and others not. whatever's up is up i guess.
My latest inspiration, my latest meditation, my latest acheivement, has been reading a complete book. i wont lie, its been a while since ive conjured up enough energy to relax with a book. its so much easier to remain distracted, facebook helps- and was severely stressful, i was unable to continue an attention span longer than the time it took to click from one profile picture to the next wall post.
Of course, it helps to read a great book; I just finished a book by Tom Robbins, called Jitterbug Perfume.
If the book, as Robbins himself described, is "meditation for the hyperactive" then thats exactly what I needed. As the book will tell you, prolonged breathing cycles, and deep inhalation, will immortalize you. I had just deactivated facebook and since then i swear i think ive even been taking deeper breaths.Well, thats one down. Next element: Water.

Ive also decided to stop being drunk on love.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Arab First Ladies

One of my favourite, and most perceptive, moments, was came in a previous post
wherein I concluded that, (unlike a theory related to the first ladies of the West), the first ladies of the Arab and Muslim world are consistently, conspicuosly, and curiously HOT. After honoring the luciousness of the Egyptian Suzie and Khadija, Jordan's Rania and Syrian Asma, it is with great pleasure and joy that I had to the mix of mozzaz Her Highness, Sheikha Mozza. (I didnt actually notice the pun till I finished typing that sentence). Sheikha Mozza, in the heart stopping white suit, is simply, bangin'- she floats with men around her like she conjured them into existence on a whim.

And just like any other picturesque sight to lay your eyes on, one glimpse is not enough. It wasnt enough for me at least. Going through Sheikha Mozza's pictures makes me proud to succumb to my overwhelming admiration of damn good taste.

Going to Blog

I have yet to decipher my own feelings toward blogging. Evidently, there is animosity, from the fact that I havent posted on this particular blog for two months, and for the other one for a month.
Ive come to realise that blogging often times feels like a great, looming, responsibility as well as a challenge, in fact: I struggle to blog. Im not doing it by force, clearly, i wanted to keep a blog, but the truth is, when I do see/hear/think of sometihng blog-worthy, I often feel a weight in my chest, an obstruction, its the web of emotion that hinders the translation of impulse and ideology into written, fathomable, words. For example, I have never been able to blog about Palestine, even now with the calamities in Gaza. I would be inclined not to write but to cite entire historical texts, reproduce treaties, broadcast their violations and generate their tears. But that just means I still havent found the angle that comforts me.

To become a narrator, that is at ease, and at peace, is the lurking feat.
So. here I am, trying again, to see if it works out better this time.