My first post on this Blog went up on April 14th of last year and, no, the year did not fly by as many, many years of my life have. This one meandered its way momentously through a gamut of events and emotions ranging from desperate grief (See: 50 Year Anniversary) to utter bliss (See the three Beirut articles posted this year).
Historically, I had a Web Site in 2000. It was, probably, and at that time, one of the first non-commercial domains: Zaribah.com. This is what I said on its Home page: A zaribah is a pen, a palisade or a fence that is put around a village to shield it . . . In the context of this domain, it conveys the feeling of being enclosed within our attitudes and antagonisms . . . Very few people in the Middle East have yet managed to affect a breakthrough out of familiar hatreds and into the enormously unfamiliar terrain of peace . . .
In the last article on that site, I said: “Ever since the euphoria of the Madrid Peace Conference and the Oslo Agreement, the situation in the Middle East has been steadily spiraling downwards. I will never forget the sneer on Yigal Amir’s lips as he was led into an Israeli court after assassinating Yitzhak Rabin. The image of that smirk and the disrespectful gum-chewing of that murderer will ever signal for me the death of the exhilaration that had promised an almost certain peace.
Yitzhak Rabin is dead.
So is the Peace Process.”
Yitzhak Rabin was brutally assassinated on November 4, 1995.
In my gut, I knew at that moment that the peace I had been working earnestly for was dead. Yet, I continued on that elusive path, and, with every passing year, my desperation grew and my hopes faded so that I closed off my web site sometime in 2001 and slowly withdrew from my activism and from my community. It had been an emotionally draining fifteen years of my life! Israelis and Palestinians were still in their zaribah, and whereas we never thought that the situation could ever get worse, it was – and still is! – doing precisely that. It’s Painful!
Fast Forward to January of 2013: My husband’s deteriorating health, after eight years of being on dialysis, had arrived to the point when we knew that he was at the end of his life. The many challenges that his illness had demanded of me, plus his imminent situation, led me into a depression that I could not at all afford to be in during that time when he needed me more than ever. Somehow, I had to pull myself out of that predicament. Writing had always been my passion, so I decided to start focusing on that, which helped in lifting my mood from the all-time low that it was in.
. . . and so it was that I launched this site, and here I am, one year later, a small speck of this humongous Blogosphere. However, I am very proud to report that my essays have been viewed in the following countries (Most of my views are in the USA, followed by Lebanon):
USA, Lebanon, Canada, France, UAE, UK, Sweden, Jordan, Turkey, Syria, Israel, Australia, Netherlands, Argentine, Philippines, Spain, Germany, Indonesia, Egypt, Kuwait, Greece, Brazil, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Tanzania, Ireland, Belgium, Austria, Bolivia, Malaysia, Colombia, Oman, Palestine, Bahrain, Italy, India, Norway, Belize, Chile, Jersey, Poland, Denmark, Portugal, Latvia, Gabon, Kenya, Mozambique, Senegal, Iraq.
To my readers in the USA: Thank you! My readers in the Arab-speaking World: Shukran! All my other readers: Merci and thanks in each of your beautiful languages! You have all made my blog an international space!
The two essays that captured the most readers are Beirut, posted on 2/28/2014, followed by the 50 Year Anniversary, posted on 10/15/2013.
Hereunder, and immodest as I am going to be, are highlights from some of my posts:
To this day, I, as many others, remain convinced that the war in Lebanon was manufactured by outside forces with the help of corrupt Lebanese politicians and their thugs. We, the unarmed silent majority, paid the price.
It doesn’t take much to start a war, after all! It really doesn’t!
Most women though are subconsciously making a political statement. I am Arab, they assert! I am Muslim, they stress! I am very proud of that despite your militarism, interference and disrespect, your stereotyping, discrimination and arrogance! Screw you Western World! Screw you!
There are days when I feel like wearing the hijab myself!
The Hijab 5/24/2013
There are many Georges all over the Middle East that we decimated. They, too, opened their eyes to the gored corpses on their streets; blood and ordnance around them; they dodged the bullets, they witnessed family and friends uprooted, suffering, droned and maimed for life. Like George, they will always hunger for the smell of gunpowder in their nostrils. Some will become hired guns and head for any war, anywhere; others will come back to haunt our neighborhoods and towns. It isn’t odd that they aren’t grateful for our twisted favors!! We should not act surprised. We cannot wonder why they hate us. Hate freedom? Really?!?! Does anyone still believe in this inane argument?!?! How utterly naïve!
Military Veterans 5/30/2013
Sometime between the war in Lebanon and the war on Iraq, women like me disappeared and were replaced by these walking tents that the Western World has come to associate with the Middle East and the Arab World. No one remembers anymore that Saddam’s Iraq had a very high percentage of educated working women who were articulate, attractive and well-dressed. And oh, gosh! Many were Muslims, too! No one remembers that there on Beirut’s beaches, undressed in their bikinis languished Lebanese women all summer long tanning their bodies! And, yes, many of them, also, were Muslim women! No one remembers that there are Muslim Palestinian women doctors, professors and engineers and that they, like their sisters in Egypt, Lebanon, Bahrain, Iraq, and Syria amongst some Arab countries were modern and educated and that they were not walking tents!
But that does not fit the image of the choreographed wars of the Middle East. How could we be going on crusades to democratize and free that part of the world if there were women (men, too!) dressed like us, educated like ourselves and enjoying their jobs and freedoms?
Victims Are Cool 6/15/2013
Democracy and freedom are beautiful concepts. They are very, very arbitrary though! Aren’t they, America? However, the people of the world have long ago woken up from the comatose slumber of their colonialist years. They are aware of our clear hypocrisy and they know that we blatantly lie. Until when will that democracy and freedom charade continue?
Al Jazeera 6/30/2013
I have maintained my pride in my roots, I wear my Palestinian and Arab heritage as a badge of honor, I hold on to the traditions that I am comfortable with while being a very proud American. One definitely does not negate the other. This country has allowed me to be whoever it is that I am. It has also set itself up to be open to critique. It has enshrined that right in its constitution.
These beliefs sometimes put me between a rock and a hard place: I need to and want to defend the United States when in the presence of some of those angry Arab, Arab-American and other immigrants and I also need to defend the Arab World when in the presence of ignorant Americans!
No one asked me before the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq whether torture worked. Maybe they thought I didn’t know. However, I do. It doesn’t need experts or science to know this. Only simple common sense and experience! I could have stated that the United States should not sully its image by replicating sadistic and disgraceful interrogation tactics. Maybe then we wouldn’t have had the scandal at Abu Ghraib, that reprehensible blotch on the American nation. And maybe we wouldn’t have needed The Constitution Project*, ten years after the war, to come up with a six hundred page report essentially saying that torture did not work and that the people who authorized it were egregiously wrong! We owe a whole lot of innocent people in our world a Mea Culpa – a Mea Maxima Culpa! So, enough excuses! Enough Guantanamos!
*The mentioned organization, released its report on April 16, 2013 titled: Task Force on Detainee Treatment.
Cultural and linguistic differences are very significant. We did not understand – as the young marines of 1958 certainly did – that “you can swallow honey easier than vinegar” as my mother-in-law used to say; that America can inspire democracy by example, cultural sensitivity and positive actions; that you can’t force yourself onto already frustrated societies without inviting senseless responses, radical thinking and extremist behavior. And then, that seems to surprise us and cause our pathetic knee-jerk reactions? Seriously?
Cultural Nuances 8/30/2014
As I write this, I do not know what the consequences of our Syria fiasco will be; what lasting damage they will incur. That script is so déjà-vu, though! The dramatic orations fall flat on my cynical ears! All the arguments for punishing the war-mongering Syrian leader by going to war ourselves are so banal! And dangling that tired carrot of peace between Israel and Palestine as a price for kicking Bashar in the crotch excites us not! We have heard this stale song before.
Seduction Par Excellence 9/10/2013
At the end of the day, the difference between, for instance, an American tragedy and the almost weekly tragedies that our wars and drones are causing from Pakistan (with whom we are not at war, right?) to Yemen (not at war there either, right?) and beyond is just like the difference between the splendor of a made-in-Hollywood epic and a dismal home-shot video. The pain that both tragedies cause to people is very similar, if not exactly the same. A killed child is a killed child whether executed by a lunatic or a drone!
Since meeting and knowing Cecile, who had made a choice, and Paul, who was born that way, and so many others in Lebanon and the US, I cannot for the life of me understand why anyone should twist their knickers because of Anyone’s sexual expressions. Not the Ayatollahs in Iran and not US Conservatives! (And pray, are they that different on some of these issues, after all?) This planet of ours has many more dire and pressing matters than people’s sexual expressions! Or is it that our politicians are good at riling us up about these private issues as they weave their mischief away in the afterhours and far from the public eye and pass Bills and Laws that profoundly affect each and every one of us in much more weighty ways than our sexuality ever will; Rules and Regulations that we’ll never even realize the dangerous extent of until it is much too late? Grow up everybody! Chill!
Let’s Be Gay 10/30/2013
And, most of all, I want to celebrate the younger generations, my terrific daughters and their remarkable peers who are still struggling to keep it all together and to balance their hectic and exigent lives while checking their smart phones. We laid an invaluable inheritance on their shoulders, we knew that they would have to suffer through it and we knew that it will take many generations yet until their own descendants can reap the full benefits of that gift. It had to be done, though! It simply had to!
Feminist, I am! 11/15/2013
And the more wretched wars we witness, the more women will be sexually and physically violated. We are the first victims of every war and upheaval in history. Every one! Whether it was Crusader invaded Jerusalem of olden times or Syrian refugee camps of modern times the atrocities of rape and violence against us females continues unabated, unashamed!! These crimes stretch across the globe from South Africa to Alaska and every country in between and all across. And the practice of the so-called “crimes of honor” continues in the Middle East on an unremitting ghastly basis!
Culture clash 11/30/2013
We have made a mockery out of the laws that we are always bragging about by inviting loopholes that upend every law so that the lobbyists and special interests are kept happy at the expense of hardworking citizens at home and innocents abroad!
Les Causeuses 12/30/2013
Oh, yes, we do have a Native American Heritage Month (it’s in November, in case, like me, you missed it!). However, we don’t hear much about it from our media or politicians. It seems to go by silently, not much fanfare, as if we don’t really want to deal with it. Not much either is heard about the Apache, Comanche, and Cheyenne, Dakota or any other tribe. There is no national acknowledgement of Wounded Knee (for instance), or any other Native milestones.
Cowboys & Indians 1/15/2014
She is the enterprising entrepreneurs and shipbuilding Phoenicians now fanning the globe, wheeling and dealing, in some places wielding their power and wealth and displaying the ugly traits of that unconscionable neo-colonialism that we often politely call capitalism.
Much as I love Lebanon, and as adaptable to living anywhere as I am, I would really find it very, very difficult to ever give up that amazing feeling of Freedom (or, at least, until The Powers That Be take that away from us, too!). Perhaps it is simply a mirage, pure hubris or brainwashing, a potion in our water, or in the atmosphere, and, if that is, indeed, the only way to explain it, then I am Guilty as charged, your honor! Guilty as charged!
Change is often started by one person, and sometimes its spark ignites a sea-change that eventually spreads across the world because, somehow or the other, we are all connected to the past, to the present, to the future and to each other. And, how would we be where we are without those untraditional human beings to link us and to show us that there are always – always and ever – other ways of living if only we give ourselves the permission to go there and to forge confidently ahead into another exciting, though untested, frontier so as to reach our full potential as women whatever that potential happens to be and irrelevant of what chronological age we are when we identify and express it?
I hope you forgive this tooting of my own horn, but I am celebrating a one year anniversary, after all! And, since I already took that liberty I would also like to mention:
“Oh, oh Jerusalem” which remains my all-time favorite and heartfelt writing. If you haven’t read it, please do so; click on my Home Page.
And, lastly, the list of favorite Web Sites and Blogs that is on my Home Page is one that I am proud of displaying. You can check them out yourself. I promise you will not be disappointed!
Uri Avnery is an outstanding Israeli, a very courageous peace activist, and writer who was targeted for assassination by his own Israeli government, and who was never intimidated from speaking Truth To Power. I will forever respect and admire this incredible man!
The Intercept is a newly launched site that is edited by Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill. The three of them daringly speak Truth To Power and, despite the humongous risks, continuously persevere with their heroic efforts and convictions. They are remarkable people!
Tom Engelhardt publishes the TomDispatch blog, which together with an ever-increasing number of alternative press sites, also speaks Truth To Power. His blog is an eye opening Must read for all of us. Another remarkable person!
Rami Khoury, a well-known writer was editor of the Lebanese Daily Star and is one of the most balanced and objective news analysts of the Middle East. His take on the current situation in the region is always refreshing and informative. He is another remarkable person!
Democracy Now and the Ron Paul Channel are great sources for news that is rarely, if ever, transmitted on the mainstream blah channels, and the Utne Reader Is a terrific magazine, again, for the important articles that are not published in the blah press.
I don’t think I need to introduce Jon Stewart of The Daily Show. His take on the news is always incredibly hilariously smart and brilliant!
BitchesBroo and ProBeirut are hosted by two terrific Middle Eastern women. They are refreshing, interesting and beautifully written!
Lastly, this site wouldn’t have come about without Michael, my Blog Guru. Essentially, he is the technical magician who brings my writings to life!
Thanks to all of you for dropping by every two weeks! Keep it up! You inspire me always!
6 thoughts on “One Year Later”
Happy anniversary, Hala! And by the way, your “Les Causeuses!” and “Beirut” are two of the most viewed posts on the Broo! You are a true voice of truth to power. Blessings and peace, always..RB
Happy anniversary and thank you for your very engaging and thought provoking essays. Refreshingly genuine, thoughtful and beautifully written. You get to the heart of the matter, connect the right dots and challenge the reader (western or middle eastern) to reflect from a different perspective. I find something to reflect on in each of your essays. I hope you keep them coming and we celebrate many more anniversaries. Sincerely, RD.
A first anniversary, and such an achievement and stick- to- itiveness; and not only that… You will follow through with good analysis, true feelings, and sass!
Love you and see you soon.
Happy Anniversary! Thank you for keeping us waiting for the next blog, for challenging us, making us ponder on some issues but mostly for your straightforwardness and sense of humor.
Your thoughts, emotions and words are beautiful. I always look forward to receiving your latest essays and emails! Thank you so much for sharing! You are an inspiration and someone to look up to. Don’t forget to add UAE to your list of readers’ country’s!!
Happy Anniversary!!!! Definitely the fifteenth and thirtieth of each month is something more worth to
look forward to because of your blogs. Your articles are written with passion , emotions , humor and
from the heart. Keep it up Hala and looking forward with enthusiasm for more to come. Love you!