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..



The ‘Theory and Practice’ of Appeasement in the Middle East

 The following quote is only introductory:
 “Was Bush’s Knesset speech a swipe at Obama?” is the headline of  ‘Rosner’s Blog’ in the ‘Haarets’.I quote from the newspaper,..”Barack Obama’s aides were quick to respond. His people called it “extraordinary politicization of foreign policy.” While U.S. President George W. Bush was speaking in Israel and comparing those who would talk with Iran to those who would have talked to Adolf Hitler, a storm broke out in the American political arena. Did Bush mean Obama?”.. see here.
Well, I wouldn’t dare to put my head between the Bush policy and the perhaps future policies of Barak Obama or senator McCain.  But if we talk about appeasement, we know the consequences of such policies.The reminiscences of Chamberlain, Daladier and Marshal Petain in France (ww2)., The Molotov-von Ribbentrop  nonaggression pact between Stalin and Hitlers Barbarossa invasion of the Nazi armies and the Pearl harbour attack by Japan, did not fade away.
  Now, if i am looking in my own ‘neighbourhood’..the Middle East.
What can be said here?  Well let Tariq Alhomayed speake for himself, I quote, ..”An astounding article … was published recently by the editor in chief of Arabic-language newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat (English edition), Tariq Alhomayed, under the headline “Iran and the fearful Arabs.” ….”The fearful Arab states…are the ones affirming, without conviction, that the Lebanese crisis is an internal matter and they are calling against confrontation with Iran. The fearful Arab states are unaware of the fact that the conflict with Iran will prevail and that it will not just end in Beirut.”…
 Or in other words, appeasing Hezbollah and his Iranian sponsor will not evaporate Iran’s urge for an Islamic hegemony.  
A further quote…”. “Hassan Nasrallah and his party were defeated the day the divinely-guided leader lost his credibility on the Lebanese street and before the Arab and Islamic worlds. It makes no difference how much he pledges today or tomorrow; the Arabs, Muslims and Lebanese will never forget how Hezbollah turned its weapons against its own people after numerous vows that it would only use them against Israel.”… see here.
 Or in other words, Hezbollah’s vow of a non-aggression against his own people was a pure joke.
And Syria..  North Korea signed the February 13, 2007 agreement in the Six Party Talks – among the United States, the two Koreas, Japan, China, and Russia with the US on nuclear weapons, see here,  meanwhile every one knows today that ..”A Syrian nuclear reactor built with help from North Korea was weeks away from functioning, a top U.S. official said Thursday after lawmakers were briefed on the site destroyed last year by Israeli jets.”… see here.
 Or in others words, the north Korean 2007 agreement, appeasing the nuclear peace believers, morphed into a nuclear reactor in Syria.
And about Nuclear Iran
 Look at the US intelligence assessment …”The National Intelligence Estimate plays down any early threat of an Iranian nuclear weapon. It assesses “with high confidence” that Iran did have a nuclear weapons programme until 2003, but this was discovered and Iran stopped it.    The NIE adds: “We do not know whether it currently intends to develop nuclear weapons.” The assessment admits that Iran appears “less determined” to develop nuclear weapons than US intelligence had previously thought.   It says that the earliest date by which Iran could make a nuclear weapon would be late 2009 but that this is “very unlikely”.
Or in other words, is that not a sort of appeasement policy?
 But considering what others say,  I quote…”on 5 March, a senior British diplomat said: ‘Many of us were surprised by how emphatic the writers [of the NIE] were… I haven’t seen any intelligence that gives me even medium confidence that these programmes haven’t resumed’.     Even the Director of US National Intelligence, Mike McConnell, appeared to backtrack on 28 February 2008, in evidence to the Senate Armed Forces Committee. In this evidence, he said that Iran had probably halted warhead design and weaponisation, but pointed out that Iran’s continued enrichment of uranium meant that it was continuing with “the most difficult challenge in nuclear production. He said: ‘We remain concerned about Iran’s intentions… Tehran at a minimum is keeping the option open to develop nuclear weapons.’ ” see here,
Is it not fun making of an otherwise serious situation?
 And finally, adding the Hamas to the list. Two days ago, a poll on Israeli channel 10, shows that a majority of the Israeli’s don’t believe in a truce with the Hamas. And why? Because, despite the fact that most Israeli’s truly want peace, they see such a truce as an appeasement policy  not quite fitting with the Hamas 1988 charter.  See Carter’s visit: ‘The Wasington Post’ remind us that ..”Hamas’s 1988 charter calls for the destruction of Israel, and its officials have repeated that stand in the years since. The charter also encourages the killing of Jews. But Carter said that in his negotiations, Hamas leaders referred to the charter dismissively as “an ancient document”, see here. Very appeasing indeed… 
Putting all this together, in acute life and dead situations, appeasement strategy is only a bet. Paraphrasing on a family living in a dangerous neighbourhood, it is better to buy a good insurance against murders, robberies, vandalism, rape, Mafiosos, beating and who knows what other calamities, and then to decide, if  after all, you want to make a bet on anything in such a neighbourhood.

Israeli Syrian Hezbollah’s ‘James Bond’ stories of Mugniyah’s death

Mourning of Mugniyah

The violent death of Imad Mugniyah, arose the question of his killers identity.

Here is one James Bond Story (Israeli Mossad) telling us in details the last moments of Imad Mugniyah.
The Sunday Times state on his headline “Israel kills terror chief with headrest bomb” I Quote, ..”At 10.35pm he decided to go home. Having exchanged customary kisses with his host, Hojatoleslam Ahmad Musavi, the newly appointed Iranian ambassador, Mughniyeh stepped into the night.
Minutes later he was seated in his silver Mitsubishi Pajero in a nearby street when a deafening blast ripped the car apart and killed him instantly.
According to Israeli intelligence sources, someone had replaced the headrest of the driver’s seat with another containing a small high-explosive charge. Israel welcomed his death but the prime minister’s office denied responsibility”…see here.
Walid Jumblatt
Walid Jumblatt, an outspoken member of the anti-Syrian March 14 parliamentary coalition
From another source here is another James Bond story (Syria) I quote,..”.. ‘It could have been the Syrians,’ says Walid Jumblatt, an outspoken member of the anti-Syrian March 14 parliamentary coalition. ‘Damascus is well protected, and I don’t think somebody else could do it’. Some analysts suggest that Damascus may have seen advantage in delivering up Mughnieh to his enemies to curry favor with the US at a time when Syria is under intense international pressure. While America’s $25 million reward for Mughnieh is a potential motive, the imminent establishment of an international tribunal to judge Hariri’s killers also may have spurred Damascus’s leadership to cooperate with the Americans over Mughnieh. Syria is widely suspected of involvement in Hariri’s death.”…see here.
Foreign Syrian Minister Walid al-Moualem
Foreign Syrian Minister Walid al-Moualem
Now Syria, via news.bbc.co.uk, tell us that: “Syria ‘to name Mughniyeh killer“, I quote,..”Iranian TV said a booby-trapped car had exploded next to Mughniyeh’s Syria has said it will soon present “irrefutable” proof of who was behind the killing of Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh in the capital, Damascus. Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem would not discuss the ongoing investigation, but insisted the world would “soon hear the results of this mighty effort”.. so the accused Syria (by Walid Jumblatt) is investigating her own crime, see here.
But From  Damascus, Feb 16, 2008 (Xinhua via COMTEX) we know that, I quote,,” — Syria has denied media reports on the formation of a joint committee with Iran and Hezbollah to investigate the assassination of Hezbollah commander Imad Moughniyah, the official SANA news agency reported on Saturday.”…” Only the Syrian specialized authorities are conducting the investigation into the assassination,”…see here. and here.
I let the last words to  Michael Ross a real ‘James Bond’. I quote,..”One of Ross’ successful missions — described in Chapter 9 of The Volunteer, excerpted below — required him to place a bomb under the car of a Hezbollah agent, which later was detonated by remote control. The same strategy was used in another deadly operation presumed to be the Mossad’s handiwork: This week’s killing of Hezbollah terror chief Imad Mughniyeh.”..
And in more details…”In a special magnetic compartment under my car was stashed a container of high explosives. Had it gone off, the explosion would have left a crater in the middle of the Autobahn, and the car’s fine appointments, along with my body parts, would have been strewn all over the Bavarian countryside. But I wasn’t particularly worried. The Mossad’s science and technology division had assured me I would have to drive the car off a cliff or into an oncoming truck to risk blowing the thing – in which case, the lethal effect of the blast would be redundant. As flying bombs go, I was fairly serene. Most people don’t realize that military-grade explosives such as Semtex typically will not detonate without a smaller ignition charge from a blasting cap or detonation cord. Heat itself is not enough: you can hold a match to the stuff and it won’t light up. To demonstrate that point, one of my IDF instructors had done just that in front of a group of terrified cadets.”…see here.
But alas, in the Middle East there are no last words and the proof is here: Michael Ross is not Michael Ross, I quote,..” Ross is not the author’s real name. Ross was a Canadian Christian who lived in Israel and married an Israeli woman,” more can be read here from the article by Yossi Melman.
So is there some firm truth in those Rashomon stories? Perhaps: Retaliation or “V for Vendetta“.
US intelligence chief Mike McConnell
Update from (the press).

Mon,18 Feb 2008 00:59:16
I quote…”US: Hezbollah behind Mugniyah killing Mon,18 Feb 2008 00:59:16
The US intelligence chief Mike McConnell claimed Sunday that internal Hezbollah groups or Syria may be to blame for the killing of Mugniyah.””…see here.
…’It is a serious threat,’ McConnell said. ‘There’s some evidence it may have been internal Hizbullah, it may have been Syria. We don’t know yet.’ see here.

V for Vendetta

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