The “Arab Spring” as a Practical Poem

From the news we know that former Egyptian president has been sentenced to life imprisonment. From Jerusalem  Fouad Ben Eliezer commented on the Mubarak debacle “I felt a pang in my heart,”. And in Beirut “Syrian strife sparks deadly unrest in Beirut”,,

In David Avidan’s poem “Practical Poem” published in 1973 the names of Cairo, Jerusalem and Beirut are mentioned without knowing the actual, 2012, revolutionary Arab Spring, including the last event of Mubarak’s sentence.

The above video  “”Arab Spring” as a Practical Poem” borrows a remote poetic chord from David Avidan to improvise on perhaps two incompatible events. See below the English translation of the poem read in the video by Avidan in Hebrew.

“Waltz with Bashir” Banned in Lebanon

Ari Folman
Ari Folman

With the publication of the  new graphic novel adaptation of Ari Folman’s, “Waltz with Bashir,( see below for the graphic pages), it is interesting to remember that despite the interdiction to screen the movie in Lebanon the opposite occured…” just a week ago was the animated movie  given its first underground screening in Lebanon — not far, in fact, from Hezbollah headquarters in southern Beirut — though the film is officially banned in that country. It has also been screened in Palestinian Ramallah and is reportedly soon to be shown in the Arab Gulf states.”… see  here. , a Lebanese website focusing on news trends and events reports :

…”Whether Waltz With Bashir wins the Oscar for Foreign Film or not, audiences in Lebanon—the subject of the film—will not get to see it on the big screen. Like all Israeli products, Ari Folman’s film is banned in Lebanon. Except, that is, for a few lucky people in Beirut last Saturday”…

…”Mitri,  (Lebanese Information Minister) who says he opposes censorship, admitted to Agence France-Presse that “the ban is absurd because you can download it on YouTube.”

“We need to abolish that law so that we can see films like this and any other films and then, if you abolish the censorship law we have, then whoever is harmed can take the matter to court,” Mitri said”…

The Menassat interviewer asked Monica Burgmann, who run UMAM and the private screening of Walts with Bashir:  how did people react to the movie?

BURGMANN: “When the movie was over there was total silence. There was not even a discussion. But I noticed that the film touched many people. Some even had tears in their eyes. One person told me, ‘I envy this Israeli filmmaker because he was able to document a history us Lebanese, should have documented.’

Another question was…” Do you really think that the ban is because of the boycott of Israeli goods? Or are there other reasons, such as preventing sectarian clashes? ”

BURGMANN: “I think the Lebanese civil war is taboo. I also think that there is not enough effort to document the Lebanese history. They use sectarian clashes as an excuse… Can’t they see that looking into our past can really prevent us from making the same mistakes twice?”

For the full article see here. More can be see here On Ya Libnan, (‘Waltz with Bashir’ film copies in Beirut despite ban).

With the release of the graphic novel, here is an excerpt of the interview by Liel Leibovitz with David Polonsky, the artist behind the  novel, telling his part of the story, I quote:


David Polonsky
David Polonsky

“In film,” he said, “you, the artist, have the audience in your hands. You control the flow of time. In comics, the reader holds you in his hands, and he controls time. Another difference is that the film appeals more to the heart, while the book appeals more to the mind, because the reader is expected to use his imagination much more. So the book, I think, is more suitable to convey the information, to tell the story in details, and the film has more of an emotional impact. I think people cry in the end of the film, and I don’t expect anyone to shed tears after reading the novel.”


Waltz with Bashir
The graphic novel: Waltz with Bashir

The discrepancies between the two media became immediately clear to him when, following the film’s success, he began to adapt his original artwork into graphic novel form.

“The drawings were all made especially for the film,” he said. “We did not originally think of turning it into a graphic novel. The book, then, turned out to be much more of a learning experience for me. I learned a lot about the medium of comics. The main thing I hope I gained as an artist is the ability to give up a strong image in favor of a strong story line: I already had the drawings, the building blocks, but the goal of the book was to convey the story as a whole, and I sometimes had to let go of beautiful artwork in favor of the narrative. For me, that’s a very important lesson.”….

…”Still, he added, two rules guided him as he created the often surreal world of Waltz with Bashir.

“The first guideline,” he said, “was to create a feeling of authenticity. There’s an emphasis on the feeling, because, for all of the reasons we just discussed, like the fact that I wasn’t there, you can’t create something that is truly authentic. The second guideline, put simply, is compassion. I wanted to draw people, not caricatures. I wanted to try and load up everything—the cars, the people, the animals—with a real sense of existence.”…for the full interview see here. released, in two parts, pages from the graphic novel adaptation of  “Waltz with Bashir”. Here are 6 beautiful pages  from he graphic novel.







For more pages see here, (part 1 release) and  here,( part 2 release) on .

Hassan Nasrallah and the Barbies

 Nasrallah, barbies and the Lebanese artist and filmmaker Jocelyne Saab together, are a good explosive mixture to blow up her own exhibition. To see what’s it al about look first at  the main explosive culprit, the picture titled “”American-Israeli playground”:

American-Israeli playground
American-Israeli playground

 And here is the story, I quote, ..” The exhibition “Sense,  and Sensibility”, her first photograph exhibition, opened at an art gallery in downtown Beirut. It wasn’t long she had toasted the opening  that problems began to arise. The exhibit illustrates Eastern and Western concepts and Arab perceptions of the West in a catchy, and to some quite kitschy or even distasteful way.”, see here.


The morning after the exhibit opened, last week, November 6-2008, at Beirut’s Planet Discovery, an event attended by over 200 people, including diplomats and representatives from Lebanon’s Ministry of Culture, the venue owner demanded that the artist remove images thought too provocative.

 “Sense, Icons and Sensibility”
“Sense, Icons and Sensibility”

The image that sparked most controversy, Saab’s spokesperson Nasri Sayegh said, was a photo titled “American-Israeli playground”, which shows Christ on a crucifix surrounded by photos of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and undressed Barbie dolls in the background.

 Saab’s spokesperson continue, I quote…”Several photos at an exhibit by Lebanese filmmaker Jocelyne Saab have been removed because they were considered too controversial by the owner of the exhibition space. ‘Fear is the worst kind of censorship,’ “, see here.

Jocelyne Saab, the artist, called her exhibits …”neo-pop art: Digital photographs illustrating ideas of the East, the West and globalization with striking images of lurid commercial detritus. Not only does Barbie run – sometimes bare-breasted, sometimes fully veiled – through the images, she is joined by political and religious memorabilia depicting Hassan Nasrallah and Jesus Christ.”…see here.

Lebanese artist and filmmaker Jocelyne Saab
Lebanese artist and filmmaker Jocelyne Saab

 In an interview with AFP she explained that …””I wasn’t looking to provoke or shock anyone. … This piece symbolizes a cemetery and says that Americans and Israelis use us as a playground. It is a call for us to be vigilant and to cohabitate rather than a call to divide and insult.”…see here.
The website Now Lebanon has called on the country’s Ministry of Culture to step in and reinstate Saab’s photos, see here.


BTW, in Israel, Jewish fundamentalist ultra orthodox Haredims, banned the picture of Kadimah leader and FM Tzipi Livni from their newspaper because she is a women. I quote, …” ‘Graphic artists will blur the faces of women that do make their way into pictures that the papers want to use. ‘They will also blur pictures of television sets or other..”,  see here. So, here is the same “Barbie” mixture: put together Tzipi Livni a secular women and an orthodox jewish newspapers, and the result is a religious censhorship on a perhaps future prime minister of Israel….The middle age blurred by Photoshop..



Israel, Lebanon, Palestine phone calling

In the Gaza strip Hamas is banning anything interfering with his grip on the local media. But Lebanon is now lifting a ban on phone calls from Lebanon to Palestine.
 …”There is a famous Lebanese song by the singer Sabah that goes: “Hello, hello, hello, Beirut? Please, dear, get me Beirut, and hurry up please!”
[today]…many Palestinians in Lebanon have been putting new words to the old tune in the past few days: “Hello, hello, hello, Palestine? Please dear, get me Palestine, and hurry up please!”…
Qlick here to hear the song
The reason is that the Lebanese government has officially lifted the ban on calls to the 970 country code this week, making it possible for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon to call their relatives in historic Palestine for the first time in decades.
‘I am thrilled with the news, but I cannot help feeling bad about all the years I spent in Beirut without being able to contact my family and relatives who are still in Palestine,’ Imad said.’Still, better late than never.’
The 970 country code was established in 1993 and was issued to the Palestinian Authority which at the time was in control of both the West Bank and Gaza.
Since then, the Islamic Hamas party has taken control of the Gaza Strip, while President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party controls the West Bank. But the Hamas-Fatah split has apparently not affected the phone network.
Now that Lebanon has lifted the ban, Syria is the only remaining country that doesn’t allow phone calls to the 970 country-code.”…see here.
And where is the Israeli connection?
 …”Debsy, [Hisham Debsy, media adviser for the PLO embassy in Lebanon], bristled when asked about the possibility of security breaches in the telecommunications network now that the lines are reopened. “You have to refer to the Lebanese government for this answer. Israel did not wait for the lines to reopen in order to hack into Lebanese land lines and mobile phones,” he said. Indeed, even if it was impossible to call Israel/Palestine from Lebanon, it has always been possible to call Lebanon from Israel/Palestine.”  see here.
Now, perhaps in the near future, we will hear a new song by the singer Sabah, from Syria to Israel… “Hello, hello, hello, Israel? Please dear, get me Israel, and hurry up please!”…

Aderet, Israeli Transsexual Singer, awarded ’12 Points’ by Lebanon

More often than we think, new connections between Jewish, Israeli and Arab people, create their own unique interferencing waves, reverberating in their own space and leave the Israeli Arabic conflict behind them. Look at the Israeli Transsexual singer Aderet on top of the Lebanese song chart, (Jun 27, 2008).
Who is Aderet? Is she the new Dana International. I don’t know. Is she a good singer? Well her trance song Say No More raging on top of the famous Beirut Nights radio station, indicate that many people in Lebanon and among the Lebanese diaspora like her hypnotic rythms.

 What is the magic a broadcaster in Beirut pick out an Israeli song to air for a Lebanese audience?
 Well first of all chance  “We found out they were playing my music by chance,” the 32-year-old Aderet said on Wednesday.”  But chance has to be consolidated, so:  ” Aderet’s management sent..’Say No More’ the lead single off her first English-language album, Jewish Girl, along with a remix by DJ Dvir Halevi to the Lebanese station.”… 
…” ‘They added the remix to the playlist and a few days later, it was at the top of the most played list’ said Aderet, ‘They know I’m an Israeli singer, and that it’s an Israeli song.’ She continued, ‘It feels great, it’s a big honor for me and makes me so happy that they let a 100 percent Israeli song to be played and to top their playlist without letting politics interfere.’ ” see here.

Sami,  a representative of Beirut Nights, says “We grew up in Beirut listening to Ofra Haza and Ishtar Alabina. We play Aderet, but also Dana International, Sarit Hadad, and DJs Yahel and Ofer Nissim. It’s not a policy because there is no policy, it is just music. You shouldn’t make a big deal about it, because it might hurt us since we are surrounded by fanatics who ultimately have no place in Lebanon.”…, see here

 And the past is always present,  remembering when the ‘fanatics’ where the Lebanese authorities, pulling Lebanon out from the 2005 Eurovision song contest because of Israel’s participation, and preventing the participation of their own talented singer Aline Lahoud with her song Quand tout s’enfui“, see here.

In our era of ‘King Internet’, the very nature of his infrastructure, permits a new musical hide and seek game of crossing and re-crossing the Israeli Lebanon’s ether border: each radio station has the possibility to make his own ‘Eurovision’ song contest.

So the conclusion should be, let the the singers sing their songs, while their fans and their audience gather under the overall protection of ‘King Internet’ . Under his auspice, two weeks ago, the Israeli trance singer Aderet was awarded ’12 points’ by Lebanon.

Bahrain Islamists failed to stop Sexy Haifa Wehbe Show

A few months ago (august 2007) I wrote here about a ban against Egypt actor Amr Waked. A similar story is now surfacing in Bahrain with the provocative singer Haifa Wehbe.
 …”Politicians attempt to ban Arab sex symbol
Lebanese model and singer Haifa Wehbe, known in the Arab world for her raunchy, sex symbol persona, has succeeded where many others have failed by facing down conservative voices in the gulf state of Bahrain.
Wehbe, who has forged a successful career across the Middle East, performed for an invited audience in Bahrain April 30 despite all but one of the members of the Islamist-dominated parliament approving a motion urging the government to ban her perf. The pols were protesting about what they deemed her sexually provocative appearances.
This time round, however, Wehbe has emerged the victor in the battle between moderates and conservatives over artistic freedoms.”…see more.
In more details, I quote,  “Lebanese singer Haifa Wehbe, known for her sexy looks and revealing outfits, went ahead with a performance in Bahrain despite an attempt by the Islamist-dominated parliament to stop the show.
“Haifa Wehbe was dressed modestly. She was almost veiled,” Adel Surour, 37, who attended the Wednesday night show with his family, said on Thursday. ‘Her performance was measured compared to her usual demeanour. We thoroughly enjoyed the show.’ Surour said the audience consisted mainly of families, including Gulf Arabs from neighbouring countries.”…see more.
Haifa Wehbe  Dressed with modesty in Bahrain show..
Haifa Wehbe in a Beirut show 2007, see here.
See YouTube video clip here.
Haifa sings in Miss Lebanon 2008 (4th of July) from her new album, Habibi Ana,’My sweetheart’ in Arabic . see here
Another song.
Haifa Wehbe-Wawa Bah! New on youtube,(english subtitles) see here.
I uploaded the post to NowPublic where I am a contributor. Here are the comments.
good stuff: No doubt officials found themselves powerless to resist…

 …Yes, she is irresistible and beautiful…Thanks for the GS.

Barry Artiste news wrangler Barry Artiste  at 02:03 on May 11th, 2008

good stuff:korzac, I like this story. It’s good stuff. Damn, she is a beauty,  she could certainly launch a few hundred warships on looks alone.  Yep, wearing a hijab certainly would be a crime.  I think Jordan and I are envisioning Wonder Woman Outfit would clinch the deal for us!

 Barry, perhaps the Islamists in Bahrain don’t regret to see their ban overthrow by such a divine beauty..


Farsi, Arabic and Hebrew

” Israel kills 2 militants in Gaza – Hamas( 12.24.07)
(I quote)…’Air strike on car traveling near al-Bureij refugee camp kills two Islamist group members, wounds two more’…’Israel has killed more than 20 militants in the past two weeks in increased military action in the coastal territory.” …, see here.

This is the daily (sad) chronicle of belligerence along the Gaza Strip border. As any warfare system, to achieve such precise results, it needs Intelligence.

The Israeli Mossad and Shabak (Hebrew) have a good reputation as intelligence agencies. These everyday clashes between the Hamas and the IDF in the Gaza strip shows how updated or perhaps streaming intelligence, targets in real time the Hamas  men on their way to launching the qassams into Israel.
As a matter of fact, this is a situation where the countries  surrounding Israel, strive to get their own intelligence on Israel.


Ronen Bergman, Israeli security and intelligence analyst, in an Article from  07.31.07, wrote … “The ‘intelligence war’ between Iran and Israel is gaining momentum, as both countries’ intelligence services are increasing efforts to recruit Hebrew and Farsi speakers to their ranks.”..”The Iranian regime needs Hebrew speakers to work as translators, intelligence agents and as part of its propaganda machine against Israel. The main source of Hebrew speakers is Palestinian students studying abroad or Palestinian terrorists sent for military training in Iran and Lebanon.”.. “One of the most prominent centers for Hebrew studies is located at Iran’s embassy in Beirut, where Hezbollah members learn Hebrew at the  Education  Center”, see here, …

“Meanwhile (I quote), Israel’s Mossad  agency on Tuesday published an ad in the country’s largest daily newspaper, Yediot Ahronot, inviting Israelis who speak fluent Farsi to join its ranks. The Persian-speaking Mossad recruits would presumably be responsible for translating intercepted Iranian transmissions and materials published by the regime in Tehran.”…see here, (July 31, 2007).

Now, Egyptian universities do the same, …”More than 10 Egyptian Universities currently offer Hebrew courses, usually as part of Oriental Language faculties that also teach Turkish and Persian.
Two major Egyptian universities, Ain Shams University and al-Azhar University, even boast a separate Hebrew language faculty. This is a major accomplishment, especially in universities that are considered bastions of strong anti-Israel sentiments.”…(12.20.07), see here.

Ain Shams

Other countries, on their official public intelligence  sites, advertise for linguists jobs in the Middle East languages.

The MI6 (UK) is also recruting Linguist Careers in SIS (MI5) (From on 05.06.06) ..”We are currently recruiting linguists with skills in Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Chinese.. .”, see here.

The MI5(UK) is also recruting in his language unit…”The Security Service protects our society from terrorist threats. To do so we need to recruit people from all the diverse communities we serve.”…” Arabic (all dialects, particularly North African), Kurdish Central (Kurdi, Sorani),…. Somali, and Persian.”…see here.
The NSA (National Security Agency, USA) is recruting: …” Career Paths in Foreign Language NSA is particularly interested in individuals who are proficient in Asian or Middle Eastern languages. We are looking for those with the following language capabilities Arabic, Persian-Farsi .”,(Among other languages), see here.
…”The FBI (USA) needs  to English-speaking candidates with a professional-level language fluency in, between other languages, Arabic, Farsi , Hebrew, …”, see here.

Today (12.24.07) Ynet publishes an article on  a “Study compiled by US Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)”..that.. “explores several hypothetical scenarios for unconventional warfare in our region… ….”Given certain conditions, Israel could potentially survive such a nuclear scenario, the study found. Iran, on the other hand, would be completely and utterly obliterated. ‘Iranian recovery is not possible in the normal sense of term, though Israeli recovery is theoretically possible in population and economic terms,’ wrote Cordesman, who compiled this study entitled ‘Iran, Israel, and Nuclear War’.”…see here.
This is meanly a future “What if” option study, well organized ,explanatory and frightening, based on know nuclear warfare factors, where  ‘intelligence on the spot’ and direct need of Farsi, Arabic and Hebrew languages is of lesser use , see here for the original study (pdf 2,2MB)
On the other hand, in contrast to the cited report, here is another headline from the “Jerusalem Post”,  ‘PA official: IDF has infiltrated Izzadin Kassam’ (Dec 24, 2007).
..”Israel has managed to infiltrate Hamas’s armed wing, Izzadin Kassam, by recruiting some of it members as ‘collaborators,’ Palestinian Authority security officials revealed Sunday. “, see here….. Here the direct use of Arabic and Hebrew languages is a necessity, if precise targeting of the moves of man, ammunition and cars is the goal.
It seems that the need  to intensifying the Farsi and Arabic studies, is today beyond question, if one wants streaming ‘Human’ intelligence from inside Iran or any other Islamic threat.
Iz Adin al Qassam
Iz Adin al Qassam. Islamic fundamentalist, , and Gazan folk hero, killed by the British colonial rulers of Palestine in the 1930’s.
As a footnote  I append here on February 10, 2010 it can be said the (targeted..) killing of Iz Adin al Qassam in the 1930’s was already a know procedure by the British Mandate..
As a second footnote it is well worth to remember the article published by the Guardian “Is Iran losing the intelligence war? see here,  from where I quote :
…”An intelligence source suggested that Ardeshire Hassanpour, 44, a nuclear physicist, had been assassinated by Mossad, the Israeli security service….”..see here.
And finally, from the Guardian article …”

…”Since George Bush left office, many people have begun to dismiss the possibility of a US attack against Iran.

Judging by today’s event, the same can not be said about an intelligence war against Iran. Obama is no Bush, but he is no pacifist either. It is possible that he, alongside other allies, is going to rely more and more on intelligence as an alternative to military action. With domestic problems increasing at home, this will disappoint Ayatollah Khamenei, as such operations do not provide him with much needed excuses to try and rally the public around the flag.”…

So “Farsi, Arabic and Hebrew” is a more relevant than ever issue in Middle East affairs.

This story was published on NowPublic here are the comments

flagged this story as Good Stuff at 08:48 on December 25th, 2007

korzac, I never realized that my Hebrew skills were so marketable…but I wont be working for Iranian intelligence anytime soon. Thanks for posting this fascinating story.


at 11:08 on December 25th, 2007

Ryan, it has already been said somewhere, that we are “אור לגויים” (A Ligth Unto the Nations)…
Thanks for the flag.


flagged this story as Good Stuff at 19:14 on December 25th, 2007

Very interesting story, korzac. It had me wondering if there are any “stoppers” that Israelis use to detect foreigners — words that are difficult to pronounce even for fluent speakers. For example, soldiers in the Dominican Republic have asked people they suspect to be illegal Haitian immigrants to repeat the word “perejil” (parsley). It has a Spanish “r” sound different from the Creole equivalent, followed by the guttural “j” (like “ch” in “Bach”),which somewhat resembles the Creole “r”. And a Dutch friend of mine told me that resistance fighters in World War II demanded that suspected German spies say words with the Dutch “g” sound (as in “Van Gogh”).


at 00:05 on December 26th, 2007

denseatoms, about your Dutch friend, I can tell you that he is right. Because my first language is Flemish (the Belgian variant of Dutch) I know the difference in sound when a “g”  is pronounced by a Belgian  and he same “g” as pronounced by a non-Belgians.
As for Israel, the situation is more complicated, because most of us where ‘foreigners’ in the past, when emigrating to Israel  from many countries over the world, so when we speak today Hebrew there are always phonetic reminiscences of our first languages. Phonetic ‘stoppers’ wouldn’t help here…But I suppose there are o