Dear Jamal,

October 20, 2018 6 comments

You are in my thoughts more than I can express. Everything I read regarding your torture and your terrible murder burns me and makes my heart pound as though it had happened to someone very close, not a person whose existence I wasn’t even aware of until a short while ago.

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I suppose it’s only natural. In a world gone completely crazy since the 2016 election of that dangerous clown to the presidency of the U.S., as though the ugly, corrupt and brutal strongmen and women (including Aung San Suu Kyi, alas, yet another illustration that if power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely) weren’t enough to commit mass murder, spew racist and bigoted rants, make us doubt our own senses as we follow the news, there were and still are people like you, stalwart, honest, intent on finding and sharing facts. Though aware of the risks of your profession as a journalist when it is exercised with the intention to tell the truth about the vileness overtaking the world, when you find it indispensable to search for truth and see it as your sworn duty to eschew nothing and stress the importance of freedom of speech and expression, you continued, doggedly, on and on.

You knew these people and groups as an insider, from close and direct contact–the ugly piece of work dubbed MBS and, in earlier years, the raving, dangerous Muslim Brotherhood, the murderous Al-Qaeda. You stepped into this mess with eyes wide open, aware of courting disaster every day but still making sure your voice was heard. The journalist in you, bemoaning the lack of freedom in Muslim countries, as you wrote in your columns for the Washington Post, the Arab in you, wishing that Arab countries would some day understand the importance of openness and the right to express oneself, the Muslim in you not giving up the hope that centuries-old mechanisms could be reversed and thought frozen in dogma could open up, led you to bravely continue to openly criticize and offer sane and generous recipes to counter all that poison.

You were so wrong, Jamal, and you suffered so terribly for imagining that hopeless, power-mad individuals and regimes can eventually be susceptible to logic and reason. Or did you think it worth trying despite knowing their exact nature?

Every day, new details emerge of what you went through before dying for your ideals, ideals in retrospect almost ridiculous in view of the ugliness of the world today. But it was not for nothing. I hope it was not for nothing. You soldiered on, you fought, you died for what you believed, as all the brave journalists murdered these last years, knowing the risks and not giving up. Their names should be remembered and honored, from Anna Politkovskaya to Daniel Pearl to James Foley to Charlie Hebdo cartoonists and so many—too many–others.

Myself and people like me, who believe that one day these sacrifices will bear fruit, that not only admirable journalists such as yourself are remembered and vindicated but that you will have contributed to brushing off the world scene scum such as Trump or MBS or others of their ilk, miss you and thank you.

The Lessons of Berlin

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Not far from the bunker where Hitler and his cronies, Eva Braun, Goebbbels etc. all these hideous nightmarish figures, committed suicide, not far from the German chancery, rises in the Berlin sky a wrought-iron profile of Georg Elser, the young carpenter who in 1939, foreseeing the destruction caused by the war that had just started, made an ill-fated attempt to assassinate Hitler. (Hitler didn’t die, Elser was caught and sent to Dachau where he was shot in 1945, for some reason spared until then.)

Under the avalanche of horrible news–the unconscionable tearing apart of families in the United States, the turning away on European shores of migrants fleeing impossible conditions in their own countries, the reelection of Erdogan whose unlimited new powers can truly crush the Turks and definitely do away with Ataturk’s legacy,  the resignation of Supreme Court Justice Kennedy to be replaced by who knows which Trump flunky, corrupt power-crazed strongmen coming to power in too many places we thought safe from extremism, we can only draw comfort from the “this too shall pass” thought. For me, indignant at the start of each day with the news, nothing good or consoling comes to mind as much as a recent visit to Berlin–my first, I’m ashamed to say. Read more…

#themtoo

For a woman, surely, there can’t be many life experiences as dreadful as rape. Even so- called “consensual” sex can be hard to bear when, for work-related or other reasons a woman has to give in to a man in whom she has no interest, in the best of cases, or by whom she is repulsed, in the worse. Think creepy, porcine Weinstein.
But rape, sexual harrasment, abuse, payScreen Shot 2018-05-29 at 10.30.47 inequality, when pay there is–and you can no doubt add to the list–are only some of the indignities or the appalling situations women go through. We have come a long way, I know, we truly have. In most developped countries, mainly in the last century and the present one, the revolting unfairness of many women’s lives has slowly and gradually given way to more awareness, driven the more egregious and untenable sins against women of men and the society on the whole into oblivion or, at the very least, underground. Read more…

Categories: #metoo, Feminism, Science, Society Tags:

“Fake-news” or “No-news?”

If Trump foams at the mouth and comes up with a new rant on fake-news–that aren’t so- ten times a day, Benjamin Netanyahu just won the top award for news that aren’t news.  In his dramatic unveiling of some 55,000 documents from before 2003 leaked from Iranian archives, he announced that these confirm that the Islamic Republic HAD AN ONGOING NUCLEAR PROGRAM at that date! Not only that, but in the course of other earth-shattering non-news that he outlined in a Power-Point style presentation, he added that Iran HAD LIED about its program.

As quoted in the Washington Post today (I know, I know, one of the main sources of fake news) Richard Nephew, a former senior State Department official who was part of the U.S. team that negotiated the deal implemented in January 2016, said, among other comments, that Netanyahu’s revelations were “not a new revelation […]To put it another way, it is why we negotiated the JCPOA,” or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Read more…

Categories: Iran, United States Tags: , ,

A plea for indifference

March 13, 2018 1 comment

We live in changed times, in a blurred-out world, one without a well-defined framework. The uncertainty generates a hardening and rigidity. We cling to what we believe we know to give our opinion on things that we don’t know at all. We camouflage our anxieties, our repulsion and our matter-of-factly limited judgment by claiming that we reject all dogmatism.

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Whatever our individual personal background, cultural and tribal ties or education, we’re each left to face our truths which can only clash with the truths of others. Our opinions reduce everything and its opposite to the simplest and most definitive cliches (though we do look over our shoulder to make sure we’re not offending anyone.) The pathetic talk shows where guests cover each other’s voices should by now have demonstrated that if we don’t listen, we cannot be heard, nor, therefore, be understood.  Read more…

Categories: our world, Politics, Religion

The enemy is not world opinion

February 27, 2018 3 comments

In the aftermath of the horrendous school shooting in Florida I have something to say to fellow Americans living in Europe, who not only grieve at yet another mowing down of our young, but are furious at world opinion that is judging us harshly: the enemy is not world opinion. The enemy is the National Rifle Association and its 5-million-strong membership which gives it enough cash to buy Republicans—in both Senate and Congress—several times over, making these heartless and corrupt so-called public servants complicit in the systematic murder of Americans–schoolchildren and others.

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I will remind them that the enemy is the toxic simpleton (“covfefe”,“fake news”) that the benighted and uninformed half of the country has elected leader of the free world. To be fair, I would add that, although President Obama tried, he didn’t bring much to the table in terms of gun control. But he was fighting against great odds—a black President and a liberal, he had a minority in both houses and a country divided, on his hands.  Everything he achieved, mainly restoring America’s image in the world after the catastrophic Bush-Cheney eight years, he did with little elbow room. Read more…

Merry Christmas

December 23, 2017 1 comment

So, every year, as December rolls around, the parade of gift-giving, decorating, buying, good cheer and good wishes starts, in holidays that beside Christmas are for the most part retrieved from half-forgotten lore, refurbished and pushed forward, in a burst of “metooism” which the now ubiquitous hashtag has brought into the mainstream. So Jews celebrate Hanukah, African-Americans celebrate Kwanza, Iranians celebrate Yalda, etc.  In the society at large, respect of diversity wreaks havoc and noble intentions get out of hand.

It says a lot about the limited ways our minds work if, as soon as a tribe has a holy, sacred, or cultural milestone, every other tribe considers it its right to come up with one of its own. fra-angelico-nativityThings are even more difficult when, disciplined as we have become and aware of the possible messages underlying our use of language or expressions that used to go without saying, we become wary of using anything that would smack of sectarianism or not include everyone, and that is everyone, lest we insult, offend, or leave out a meritorious member of the human race. Thus, we will bite our tongue before saying “Merry Christmas,” having repeatedly been hit on the head with the concept that Christmas is a white-only, descendent of slave holders only, knights of the crusades or oppressive colonialists only.

Read more…

Categories: Religion, Society Tags: ,
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