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Conquering The Sky [Gone to Palestine: 1]

[The first installment of Gone to Palestine]     When we arrived at Ben Gurion, we were immediately overcome by strange emotions that affected us in different ways. This was partly because we didn’t know what to expect, partly because we knew they were turning so many people away at the airport ...  Read More »

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Thanksgiving In Beirut

On November 24, people from across the United States will gather with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving. They will travel (on the busiest travel day of the year), they will eat turkey and pumpkin pie, and they will shop at the orgiastic sales that are a fixture of what is perhaps the most widely celebrated ...  Read More »

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What's in a City? (Part 2)

(see Part 1) Last summer, a friend (under some coercion… not from me) gave me a valuable gift – a 1954 Guide to World Travel issued by Pan Am airlines. In the section on Lebanon, it listed the average temperature in August as 83º Fahrenheit (~28º C). August, by far the hottest and most humid month, only 83 ...  Read More »

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They Kill Christians (Too)

The attack on the Sayyidat al-Najat (Our Lady of Salvation) Church in the al-Karradah district in Baghdad on October 31st was not the first on churches in Iraq in recent years. However, it’s certainly the most lethal in terms of casualties, let alone its deleterious effects on Iraq’s already damaged social space. The ...  Read More »

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Zindeeq: Film Review

Zindeeq, directed by Michel Khleifi. Palestine/UK/Belgium/UAE, 2009. Michel Khleifi is the acclaimed Palestinian filmmaker, director and producer of such award winning films as Wedding in Galilee (1987) and Route 181 (2004). His films and work as professor at the Belgian Institut National Supérieur des Arts du ...  Read More »

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Gynecology, Honor, and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon

Last week Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah gave a speech on honor. However, this speech was not about the honor of resisting occupation or the honor of the Palestinian cause. The Sayyed’s speech, rather, focused on how the Special Tribunal For Lebanon had threatened the honor of Lebanese citizens by requesting gynecological ...  Read More »

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Register: Exile + 1

The hallway felt increasingly smaller, tighter. Every minute drew in the baby blue trimmed walls closer to one another compressing me and my breath in between their administration. I tried to distract myself in David Harvey’s analysis of neoliberalism—yes uneven geographical development in China, Deng like Reagan like ...  Read More »

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Two Poems by Sargon Boulus

Railroad    The glass of the subway windows is foggy. Shapes escape across it, as if from a demon, and are sorted out behind us as “bygones.”   The shrieking of the wheels on the rail. The appearance of the next station, at the bend of a tunnel full of wailing. A few vagabonds on the ...  Read More »

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Three Poems by Saadi Youssef

Fulfillment I used to, I often used to hope as autumn painted forests with gold walnut brown or muted crimson, I so hoped to see Iraq’s face in the morning to loosen water’s braids over me, to satisfy its mermaids with salty tears, to float over Abu l-Khaseeb’s rivulets to ask the trees: Do you, ...  Read More »

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Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject

Saba Mahmood, Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005. Much of the implicit political background—the staging-point—of Saba Mahmood’s highly acclaimed ethnography of the women’s mosque movement in Egypt, Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the ...  Read More »

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On Being Addicts in Amman

We don’t recall how our day started, but we do remember being out of the house with none of our usual spots in sight. Everything was different that day: the number of people in the street, the look in their eyes, and the closed-up stores. Amman isn’t the place to take big risks. The consequences, especially for those ...  Read More »

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Top Ten List: What to Expect From Ahmadinejad’s Visit to Lebanon (+ Arabic Translation)

[Update: See Arabic translation below . . . by popular demand!] 10- Upon hearing Ahmadinejad’s footsteps in Lebanon, Ariel “Arik” Sharon rises from his coma long enough to learn that Iran is still on the road to becoming the second country in the Middle East to have a nuclear weapon after Israel. He has another ...  Read More »

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Guilty of Being Muslim: Review of “Entrapped”

Review of "Entrapped" (Produced by Anjali Kamat and Jacquie Soohen) The new documentary “Entrapped,” which was aired as a special report by Democracy Now! on October 6 and is due to be released on DVD by Big Noise Films, is that rare documentary that not only informs us about an issue, but in doing so, ...  Read More »

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"The Corpse" by Sargon Boulus

They tortured the corpse until dawn broke down and the rooster rose up in protest. They thrust nails in its flesh. They whipped it with electric cables. They dangled it from the ceiling fan.   When the torturers were finally tired and took a break, the corpse moved its little finger, opened its ...  Read More »

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Good Morning Palestine

For four days last week, I drank my morning coffee while gazing at Palestine. I was spending the weekend with friends at a house in a border village between Lebanon and what is now the State of Israel. Every morning, I walked from the bed I was sleeping in, to the kitchen to make a cup a coffee, then out onto the ...  Read More »

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American Innocence and Its Victims (Part 1)

[See Part 2 here]  We should be somewhat grateful, I suppose, that the New York Times Book Review dedicated its back-page essay to a review of the current edition of the literary journal Granta, a special issue devoted to Pakistan. After all, literature from Pakistan deserves a wider audience in the U.S., and in ...  Read More »

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Poverty in the Oil Kingdom: An Introduction

When Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz went to see one of Riyadh’s many poor neighborhoods in November 2002, pundits and lay people alike heralded the landmark visit as the beginning of the end of poverty in Saudi Arabia. After all, it was the first-and only- such visit by a high-ranking member of the Saudi ruling ...  Read More »

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Still at Sea: A Review of "Hope"

Hope, directed by Steve Thomas. Australia, 2007. In one of his late poems, the Iraqi poet Sargon Boulus (1944-2007) wrote of “A million refugees clinging to his footsteps.” This was not poetic hyperbole. Boulus was haunted by a visceral tragedy. The invasion and occupation of Iraq back in 2003 and the sectarian civil ...  Read More »

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The Pomegranate Alone (Excerpt)

She was lying nude on her back on a marble bench in an open place with no walls or ceilings. There was no one around and nothing in sight except the sand, which reached all the way to the horizon where clouds crowded the sky and took turns blocking the sun before rushing to disappear. I was nude, barefoot and ...  Read More »

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Farewell Germany

وداعاً المانيا في ساعات الصباح المبكرة وأنا في طريقي إلى العمل، حين يكون المترو البرليني مزدحماً، غالباً ما يستوقفني منظر أولئك الذين يجلسون على المقاعد ويغفون فوق زجاجة الجعة التي بين أيديهم. يبدو عليهم وكأنهم سيهوون أرضاً في أي لحظة من الثمالة. كل هذا وعقارب الساعة لم تصل التاسعة صباحاً بعد. لم يكن هؤلاء الألمان ...  Read More »

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What's in a City? (Part 1)

One night a few months ago, while spending some time in Beirut, I needed to get from the Sinn al-Fil neighborhood to that of Ras Beirut, and called a taxi to pick me up. After driving around for twenty minutes, it became clear that the cab driver had no idea how to get us out of the urban planning nightmare that is ...  Read More »

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At The Beach With Nancy Ajram

A few weeks ago, I found myself sitting next to Nancy Ajram at a beach/restaurant in Batroun-a lazy town in the north of Lebanon. No, not the Nancy Ajram, star of the stage, Melody TV, and many a teenage boy’s fantasy. I was sitting next to an attempt at Nancy, an approximation of her or rather, a mold of her made of ...  Read More »

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Laugh! There is a Bomb in your Car

Ramadan is a very special time of year for Muslims and it is impossible to overestimate its socio-cultural importance. Additional time and effort are invested in its daily rituals and practices. Familial and social bonds are augmented and celebrated. Traditional games used to be an important facet of the month’s ...  Read More »

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Can A Muslim Truly Be An American?

There are numerous ways to approach this question.  From a legal standpoint, many Muslims are American, having been born in the United States.  Many Muslim immigrants are in possession of a United States passport, an item that ideally would be the only criterion by which one is judged “American.” ...  Read More »

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What is Good Sex?

I am sure we all have our own answers to this question. While I can only imagine how interesting these answers may be, the answer according to the Lebanese state (or any other state) is much more complicated. This answer is refracted and expressed through various mediums, including the law. One way to understand ...  Read More »

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Neoliberalism's Populist Engine and Race in America

What began as an entertaining spectacle of Americans reenacting the Boston tea party across the country in early 2009 has congealed into a viable and tangible political force. In the recent primaries leading up to the November mid-term elections, Tea Party candidates both challenged long-time Republican ...  Read More »

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The Poet Lives

Two years have passed since the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish (1941-2008) died at a hospital in Texas from complication of heart surgery on August 9, 2008. His death left a considerable void in Palestine and the Arab world. He was, after all, a unique figure by any measure. By the end of his life he had been widely ...  Read More »

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Al-Tahir Wattar (1936-2010)

Al-Tahir Wattar, one of Algeria’s most influential writers died on the 13th of August, after a two-year battle with colonic cancer. He was a foundational figure in the Arabophone novel in Algeria and widely recognized and celebrated in the Arab world. Some of his ten novels were translated into ten ...  Read More »

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Octavia Nasr Crucifies Herself, Switches to T-Mobile

On the morning of July 14, France’s independence day (the irony of it all), Octavia Nasr was found dead in her home after her self-inflicted crucifixion.* After twenty years of service to CNN, Nasr had been fired in July 2010 after tweeting that she had respect for the late Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah (who was a ...  Read More »

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Anniversary of Salah al-Bitar's Assassination

Salah al-Bitar was the cofounder, along with Michel Aflaq, of the Ba`th party, later called the Arab Socialist Ba`th Party when it merged with Akram Hourani's Arab Socialist Party in 1953.  Read More »

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