Archive for April, 2012

How effective (and moral) is the hunger strike as political weapon?

April 28, 2012 3 comments

I know I’m setting myself up for invectives from liberals everywhere who have made theirs the Palestinian cause, but I don’t have the least  admiration for Khader Adnan, the Islamic Jihad activist just released from an Israeli jail after 66 days of hunger strike (curiously, the same number of days that in 1981 felled Bobby Sands, the Irish Republican who took nine of his comrades-in-arms with him in his death spiral).

A word of elaboration here, to those who might consider my wording flippant. Although deeply involved in and preoccupied by many of the ills of our sad planet, I consider myself beyond liberalism just as, although a woman, I consider myself beyond feminism. “Causes” of any sort strike me as a luxury; paraphrasing Samuel Johnson and his quip about patriotism, I’d almost say they’re the last refuge of the scoundrel. We sit in our espresso bars or in our Paris cafés and get all worked up about this or that cause but do we ever have a new perspective beyond the expected knee-jerk reaction to whichever of our buttons is being pushed? Read more…


Koran chapter and verse: Nuclear weapons are anti-Islamic

April 21, 2012 1 comment

Call me naïve. It won’t be the first time and certainly not the last. But you know what? I’d rather be naïve than see a conspiracy behind every bush and a can of worms under every stone. We have to believe, if only occasionally, that things may work out after all. Case in point, the nuclear talks with Iran being held in Turkey.

A deal may be in the works. And why not? What’s there not to like in a deal?

For Iranians, renouncing nuclear weapons in exchange for a) at least a partial lifting of the sanctions that are crippling its economy and causing grumbling in the population—not good for the regime— and b) being allowed to continue enriching uranium for peaceful energy purposes. Supreme Leader Khamenei who knows which side his bread is buttered on has publicly declared that building a nuclear weapon would be “a grave sin,” thus presenting a face-saving rationale for Iran entering into discussions with Catherine Ashton for the European Union, with reciprocity as the operative word. (I can’t help being curious, though: In exactly what verse of the Koran has the Prophet Mohammad pronounced nuclear weapons sinful and anti-Islamic?) Read more…

Puffy face or puffy brains?

April 15, 2012 2 comments

No dearth of major issues that could occupy our minds today, including Iran’s nuclear talks in Turkey. So why turn to the trivial controversy over Ashley Judd’s “puffy face” story and the ongoing media/twitter storm that followed?  Simply that, as a post-feminist woman, I am sick of the idiotic arguments on all sides the minute a woman’s appearance is discussed.

Here are some of the hackneyed knee-jerk responses we’re regularly treated to:

1. How come what a woman wears to an event/conference/peace talks/ international meet/Oscar ceremony/grocery store is talked about ad nauseam and not what men wear?

2. Why do women and not men have to worry about their appearance and are criticized anyway for being too fat, too thin (not very often, that one, except for Whitney Houston and dead Brazilian models), too wrinkled, dressed like a slut or a nun, having been under the knife or not, etc.?

3. Why are women catty to other women when they should show solidarity? Read more…

What the Odyssey can tell Egyptians

In the Odyssey, Homer has Ulysses barely make his escape through a strait guarded on one side by the monster whirlpool Charybdis and on the other by the cave-dwelling hydra Scylla. Ever since, the expression “being caught between Charybdis and Scylla” has meant the impossible proposition of choosing between two evils.

This is what is happening now with the looming Egyptian presidential elections. On the one hand, the Muslim Brotherhood reneging (no surprise there) on its word not to present a candidate and naming Khairat El-Shater as their choice (he has been quoted as declaring that establishing sharia law is his “ultimate goal”.) On the other, as a possible counterweight, the now declared presidential bid of Omar Suleiman, a former army general and intelligence chief. The smattering of other candidates will not make a difference. Read more…

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