From the Archives


What is happening in Lebanon?

What is happening in Lebanon?

A survey of US television and radio news over the last 24 hours has told me the following:
• Bombings and gunfights in Lebanon. Again.
• Breathless analyses on US news programs about Al-Qaida’s spread to the shores of the eastern Mediterranean.
• Analysts using the “cookie cutter” approach to this new development by citing the events of 1975-1976 and the tensions between Lebanese and Palestinian refugees.
• CNN’s putative Lebanon analyst, Brent Sadler, characterized Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon as “breeding grounds for terrorism,” but now, according to Mr. Sadler, it’s Islamic-flavored terrorism.

On that so-called “Shi’a Crescent”

On that so-called “Shi’a Crescent”

News reports from Iraq, Iran, and Lebanon harp on and on about the emerging “Shi’a Crescent,” which now poses an allegedly mortal danger to the West (whatever that is!). In the last 60 years, we have seen the Red Scare, the Green Scare (politicized Sunni Islam), and of course, the Axis of Evil, which still gets a lot of air time. The political “flavour of the month” danger now is clearly Iran, which, after the events of the last two weeks, is increasingly in the cross-hairs of those who believe that traditions, societies, and histories can be collapsed into a catchy soundbyte or a caricature of the Evil Other.

The nightmare returns

The nightmare returns

It cannot be happening again: children ripped into ribbons of seared flesh, old women looking lost and small in the dark corners of temporary shelters, mothers shrieking in maddened grief over their dead babies, and grown men covering their faces in shock and sorrow, powerless to protect their families. Tall apartment blocks are again pancaked into ruins, buildings riddled with holes, their edges missing, resembling large chunks of cheese that have been nibbled by monstrous rats.

A hard rain’s gonna fall

A hard rain’s gonna fall

If you are not rain, my love
Be tree
Sated with fertility, be tree
If you are not tree, my love
Be stone
Saturated with humidity, be stone
If you are not stone, my love
Be moon
In the dream of the beloved woman, be moon
(So spoke a woman to her son at his funeral)
From the poem, “Under Siege,” by Mahmoud Darwish

UN refugee report: Most protracted and largest of all refugee problems in the world remains unresolved

UN refugee report: Most protracted and largest of all refugee problems in the world remains unresolved

As people return to former war zones, global numbers of refugees are falling. The most protracted and largest of all refugee problems in the world, however, remains unresolved, says UNHCR in a major report on refugees published on Wednesday. UNHCR’s report, “The State of the World’s Refugees: Human Displacement in the New Millennium,” examines the changing dynamics of displacement over the past half decade.

Give law a chance

Give law a chance

After reading a number of tentative eulogies for now brain-damaged Ariel Sharon in the mainstream US press, one wishes that more sound-bites and column space could be devoted to those who bore the brunt of “the Bulldozer’s” morally troubling and legally insupportable policies and decisions.