Between Ritta and my eyes..

Since I was listening to Mahmoud Darwish, somebody who knows very well about the meaning of the daily tragedy in the Israelian-Palestianian question, this poetry of his came to my mind (it is also a very famous song sung by Marcel Khelifa). He tells about the story of Ritta, a Jewish girl he was in love with..Between them, there has always been a gun (“Bayna Ritta wa aouyouni boundoukiyya“)


Between Rita and my eyes
There is a rifle
And whoever knows Rita
Kneels and pray
To the divinity in those honey-colored eyes

And I kissed Rita
When she was young
And I remember how she approached
And how my arm covered the loveliest of braids
And I remember Rita
The way a sparrow remembers its stream
Ah, Rita
Between us there are a million sparrows and images
And many a rendezvous
Fired at by a rifle

Rita’s name was a feast in my mouth
Rita’s body was a wedding in my blood
And I was lost in Rita for two years
And for two years she slept on my arm
And we made promises
Over the most beautiful of cups
And we burned in the wine of our lips
And we were born again

Ah, Rita!
What before this rifle could have turned my eyes from yours
Except a nap or two or honey-colored clouds?
Once upon a time
Oh, the silence of dusk
In the morning my moon migrated to a far place
Towards those honey-colored eyes
And the city swept away all the singers
And Rita

Between Rita and my eyes–
A rifle

Listening to the radio on the taxi Amman-Sham

On the way back from Amman to Sham, the taxi driver is listening to a local radio (don’t know if it comes from Jordan, Syria or Palestine). It could be as  any commercial radio station in the world. There is a live music program, broadcasting pop music, people call in to ask for a particular song or to make a wish, the presenter interacts with them, then puts the music on.  But this time the songs are all national songs, resistance songs, and the listeners are calling up to wish the liberation of Gaza, or to blame Israelis for the attacks, or just to talk about the children of Palestine, killed or injured. The feelings of the so-called “Arab street” are the same, all across the Region, whether it is Jordan, or Syria, or Lebanon. The anger is high.

Another radio program has just been broadcasting poems from the world famous Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish (some of them can be listed from his own voice at the website, some of them are sung by the lebanese singer Marcel Khalife.

One of his most famous poems is now being sung by a voice that I can’t recognize, but I can recognize very clearly the words, which say, more or less (the english translation can’t give the idea of how much these words sound powerful in the arabic language, “Sajjal, ana arabi…“):

Identity Card

Record !

I am an Arab

And my identity card is number fifty thousand

I have eight children

And the nineth is coming after a summer

Will you be angry?

Record !

I am an Arab

Employed with fellow workers at a quarry

I have eight children

I get them bread

Garments and books

from the rocks…

I do not supplicate charity at your doors

Nor do I belittle myself

at the footsteps of your chamber

So will you be angry?

Record !

I am an Arab

I have a name without a title

Patient in a country

Where people are enraged

My roots

Were entrenched before the birth of time

And before the opening of the eras

Before the pines, and the olive trees

And before the grass grew.

My father..

descends from the family of the plow

Not from a privileged class

And my grandfather..was a farmer

Neither well-bred, nor well-born!

Teaches me the pride of the sun

Before teaching me how to read

And my house

is like a watchman’s hut

Made of branches and cane

Are you satisfied with my status?

I have a name without a title !

Record !

I am an Arab

You have stolen the orchards

of my ancestors

And the land

which I cultivated

Along with my children

And you left nothing for us

Except for these rocks..

So will the State take them

As it has been said?!

Therefore !

Record on the top of the first page:

I do not hate people

Nor do I encroach

But if I become hungry

The usurper’s flesh will be my food



Of my hunger

And my anger !

Arab media coverage of Israeli attacks on Gaza

Watching today different  Arab Tv stations coverage of Israeli attacks on Gaza could give us a completely different idea of the crisis. Al Jazeera has got correspondents everywhere, from Gaza to Ramallah to Jerusalem to Beirut where lots of “action” was happening. Screen was divided into four smaller windows and the correspondents live and in parallel were asked questions by the presenter from Doha, Qatar. Most of them were wearing war helmets and the atmosphere was very dramatic. Emotional participations, lots of words referring to “martyrs” (sorry for this translation, which I am sure doesn’t reflect the exact meaning of the original Arabic word “shuhada”), lots of pics featuring children blessed, deaths, blood everywhere. A promo, edited by the Doha headquarters, “advertising” the war coverage as it was the latest war movie coming from Hollywood. But these are not special effects, this is the real tragedy happening live in Gaza.

On the other side, Al Arabiya, broadcasting from Dubai, was also talking about “martyrs”, but in a colder, more “neutral” way as it was something more distant (nobody here in the Arab Region could prevent himself to use this word, it’s not a matter of “being professional” as we wrongly believe in the West, it’s a matter of belonging to a culture and speaking the local language). Al Arabiya also has got a “promo” of its own war coverage, like Al Jazeera. But more as a “European movie” rather than Hollywood, something more sober in way. Still lots of deaths, but lin a way,more aseptic. The real paradox is that, while Al Jazeera shows correspondents with helmets, Al Arabiya’s cameras are focused live on Muscat, where the Gulf summit is going on (being originally something planned for economy, then turned urgently in a debate about a common Gulf position to be taken before the Arab League summit to be held after tomorrow in Cairo). Cameras are following the king of Saudi Arabia (Al Arabiya belongs to a prince businessman who is a member of the Saudi royal family), walking silently in Muscat followed by courts dignitaries dressed in the traditional Gulf long dresses. They walk in a perfect silent, live on Arabiya cameras. And there is nothing more paradoxical that this silent compared to the noise of the war happening live just on the other side of the Arab remote control.

Hassan Nasrallah’s speech on Gaza after Israeli attacks

I am currently out in Amman and I am listening to Hassan Nasrallah‘s speech which is “mubasher”, live, from Beirut. He is speaking from a football stadium in Beirut which is overwhelmed by people. Lebanon, as Egypt, today is striking as a form of protest against Israeli attacks over Gaza. Many people are gathering in the stadium and we can see national flags of Lebanon, Palestine and Hezbollah‘s party yellow flags. Songs from Hezbollah’s resistance are heard everywhere. Al Manar, Hezbollah’s Tv channel which is banned in Europe, is broadcasting the event live. Before Hassan Nasrallah’s speech, the cameras were filming only the crowd and the flags and, even when somebody was speaking from the stage preparing the audience for the party leader’s speech, the cameras kept on filming the crowd, never the stage (the voice speaking over the images sometimes is repeating words like”maut li Israil, maut li Amrika”, death to Israel, death to America).

This situation changes only when Hassan Nasrallah appears (no stage supposed to be given to any other but the party leader, this is the message transmitted by the images). He is live, but he is speaking from another place, not from the stage in the stadium. Behind him, we can see that the words “victory to Gaza” are written. When he speaks, the camera is only for him. He has a charismatic power and his speech is in perfect “fusah”, the classical arabic, just very few words in lebanese dialect. He begins the speech in the Islamic way, by greeting in the name of God, and then starts to evocate powerful words that touch the hearth of Muslims everywhere. Like ummah, the islamic community.

Nasrallah evocates the ummah, and reminds the Lebanese people that they are a part of this ummah (which indirectly means that they are directly involved in this tragedy). The message is clear: this is a new 2006 war happening. In fact he reminds them that they know very well the meaning of being attacked, of finding their houses destroyed and their children killed. He states that Gaza is not alone, because it is a part of this bigger ummah. Then he starts his speech, which is more than a speech. It is a real warning against certain powers in the Arab region. In another way, we can say that he is mentioning the “conditions” to be respected by the Lebanese governments, other Arab governments and finally the US if they want Hezbollah to stay out of this (in a military way, i guess).

Here the main points of his speech, which are at the same time the warnings and the conditions he is dictating.

First one is the warning addressed to the Lebanese government and its president Michel Slemain. Nasrallah invites the president to take a bold position in front the other Arab governments in the upcoming Cairo summit of the Arab League. The message to the lebanese government (supported by Western governments) is clear and sounds mostly like a threat. Lebanon should be closer to Gaza and to the Palestianian resistence and be against any other kind of position. He clearly refers to Egypt and the clear position the country took by closing the border with Gaza.

The second warning  is of course addressed to “some Arab governments” as he calls them without mentioning them openly, i.e. the governments that are not doing anything effective but taking a silent position which sounds  more as a silent agreement with Israel for having attacked Gaza- or, at least, nothing that takes a sharp position rather than condemning-. He invites them to a “real reaction” instead of talking just words in a summit. Doesnt’ specify what this “real reaction” should be. But it’s clear that Nasrallah is taking a very tough position, as he did in the past, against many Arab governments, particularly the Gulf (and Saudi Arabia in particular).

Thirdly, he talks directly to America. When he mentions America, he starts to look at the camera as if Obama, the new elected US president, was there to listen. He seems to address directly to him -even if not mention his name- when he says “we want to see your political program, your political position” and adds that he doesn’t care about colors being yellow, red, black (clearly referring to the skin of the new president and the hope that his colour and background could help him understanding better). Again, he adds that he only cares about the political program and he only wants to see results on this topic. He also adds that America keeps on saying that the problem with Hamas is that it is an islamic party with an islamic goal, while at the same time America doesnt care about the islamic party which is ruling in Afghanistan or the one which the Iraqi president is belonging to. He states that the real reason behind American refusal of Hamas is not linked to religion at all. the real reason, which is also the one for refusing Hezbollah’s power in Lebanon, is their political programs that touch the core of US interest in the Middle East. He says that they want a “real independence” for the Arab region, something that is  very much against US interest.

“Gaza will not stay alone in its resistance”, he says. What does this mean? does this mean that Hezbollah will actively support Hamas in Gaza? does this mean a new war like the july 2006 involving Lebanon and Hezbollah?

The fact that Nasrallah, in his rhetoric, is focusing a lot and stressing a lot on the july 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah is a leading factor that helps us to imagine that behind his speech there is also a kind of “war declaration”, or at least a warning. It’s not unlike to imagine such a scenario.

From the media point of view, the coreography of the speech was perfectly suiting Hezbollah’s rhetoric of uniting people together and calling upon resistance against Israel and America who don’t want to see  a united Arab ummah  in the Middle East.

Nasrallah also accused -without telling its name openly- “an Arab Tv ” station of having called him “a demon” and of portraying him in a bad way. It was a kind of “warning”, too, to Al Arabiya television and the country that it represents, Saudi Arabia, which is the first “enemy” of Hezbollah party. This also reminds us to which extent Arab media are still very polarized in a political way and still very partisan, far from representing just a “commercial market” as many of them would wish to be portayed.