Lebanon

Photo of the Day

‘Queen Zenobia’s Last Look Upon Palmyra’ by Herbert Gustave Schmalz.

The Desert Queen

“I have nothing to fear… I am the sun, the stars, the pearl, the lion, the light from heaven”

 – Lady Hester

They do not come much madder than Lady Hester Lucy Stanhope. They don’t come much braver either.
In an age when most upper-crust women couldn’t fart without a chaperone, Lady Hester was charging around the Middle East on an Arab stallion, dressed as a bloke. She went where she wanted and did as she pleased. Her Ladyship was a law unto herself.

The choices she made and her sensibility didn’t fit the mould for a heroine for the Georgian, Victorian or Edwardian eras; she was a strong, independent woman who refused to accept the constraints placed on her by society.

Lady Hester left England in the early 1800’s after an abortive love affair scandalised London society. She set off in search of adventure, travelling across Europe and the Middle East; she was shipwrecked in Rhodes en route to Cairo.

She spent two years travelling in the Middle East, eventually settling in a monastery near Sidon, a town on the Mediterranean coast in what is now Lebanon.

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Photo of the Day

Gertrude Bell, third from left, was flanked by Winston Churchill and T.E. Lawrence on a visit to the Pyramids in 1921. Credit The Gertrude Bell Archive, Newcastle University.

‘Queen of the Desert’

Gertrude Bell Scaled the Alps, Mapped Arabia, and Midwifed the Modern Middle East

In a picture taken to mark the Cairo Conference of 1921, Gertrude Bell – characteristically elegant in a fur stole and floppy hat, despite being on camel back – sits right at the heart of the action. To one side is Winston Churchill, on her other TE Lawrence.

Bell was his equal in every sense: the first woman to achieve a first (in modern history) from Oxford, an archaeologist, linguist, Arabist, adventurer and, possibly, spy. In her day, she was arguably the most powerful woman in the British Empire – central to the decisions that created the modern Middle East and reverberate still on the nightly news.

Yet while Lawrence is still celebrated, she has largely been forgotten.

Newspaper articles of the time show she was known all over the world. The minutes of the Cairo Conference record her presence at every key discussion but not one of the men mentions her in their memoirs. It’s as if she never existed

How to chart the life of an Englishwoman — an explorer, spy, Mountaineer, translator, and archaeologist — who’s been all but written out of colonial Middle Eastern history? Luckily Gertrude Bell was a prolific letter writer” and “early photography enthusiast and— she left behind some 1,600 letters and over 7,000 photographs. It was an interest in archaeology that helped propel Bell’s many trips into the desert, beginning in 1900 to Palmyra. She nurtured the ambition of being the first to discover and document a site. Early in her travels, she recognised the importance of photographic documentation, along with notes, drawings, rubbings and casts. Bell was a complex, fascinating woman who was pivotal in the tangled history of the modern state of Iraq.

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Marine le Pen tells Muslim cleric to stick it when asked to wear head scarf

An aide of Lebanon’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdel-Latif Derian, left, offers a headscarf to French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, right.

Marine le Pen has told a Muslim cleric to shove it when she was asked to wear a head scarf in order to meet him:

Marine Le Pen, the National Front leader, has provoked a row by refusing to wear a headscarf to meet an eminent Islamic scholar in Beirut.

The French far-right presidential candidate walked out of the offices of Sheikh Abdel-Latif Derian, the grand mufti of Lebanon, after being told she could not see him unless she covered her head.

The incident is likely to bolster Ms Le Pen’s popularity among National Front supporters, many of whom are hostile towards Islam. But it may undermine her attempt to portray herself, during a two-day visit to Lebanon, as a serious future world leader, not least because the trip included her first meeting with a head of state — President Aoun.   Read more »

Rachel Smalley thinks white privilege causes journalists to commit crimes

Rachel Smalley is consumed by guilt. She writes a cri de coeur about how white privilege is causing journalists to commit crimes.

But first she thinks it is the audience’s fault for daring to watch what they serve up. She thinks it is the viewers’ fault, not the networks.

You may have heard over the weekend the Australian 60 Minutes crew gave an interview after arriving home from Lebanon.

Journalist Tara Brown spoke about the botched attempt to snatch two children from their Lebanese father so they could return to Australia with their mother.

And judging by the interview, the 60 Minutes crew and broadcaster Channel 9 believe they were in the right. Still. They still believe that.

What happened in Lebanon – in part – is the result of a contracting media.

Budgets have been slashed, current affairs programmes are doing what they can to survive, but inevitably corners are cut. Decisions are made in lieu of comprehensive risk assessments because the push is on to make top-rating TV, and make no mistake, this was a story that would have made great TV.   Read more »

Those cunning Israelis, now they are training vultures to spy for them

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You have to say the average Arab appears to be completely retarded.

A vulture that flew in Lebanon has been accused of spying.

The vulture flew into the Lebanese village of Bint Jbeil, near a nature reserve in Israel’s Golan Heights, where it was caught by locals who were suspicious because it has Israeli tags, CNN has reported.

Locals who spotted the bird noticed it had a transmitter and a metal ring with Israeli makings. The metal ring on the bird’s leg indicated it was from Tel Aviv University.   Read more »

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Rachel Smalley is a dreadful lightweight – today’s example

She features for one hour, between 5 and 6 am on weekdays, yet she punches below her weight all the time:  Rachel “Kevlar” Smalley thinks of herself as one of the few remaining “serious journalists”.

We can forgive her “off-air” derision about people who weigh more than her, and we can even forgive a little slip up by thinking scientist Kepler and fabric Kevlar are the same.

But what I can’t forgive is lazy journalism.  I don’t accept it here, I didn’t accept it at Truth, and I won’t accept it in future.

Smalley’s decided to warm up the Refugee Quota again for today’s column.

The calls are growing to increase our refugee quota.

A parliamentary Select Committee says we need to increase the quota – and soon. There is some urgency on this given the scale of need around the world right now.

Our quota sits at 750 at the moment, and it hasn’t changed since 1987. We seldom fill that quota.

I happened to have been looking into this area in some detail for a story I have been working on, and that didn’t ring true to me.  All the stats are available on-line and easily accessible.   Read more »

Hezbollah hiding 100,000 missiles

Hezbollah is hiding 100,000 rockets to threaten Israel with.

Things are getting tense in Israel again as new evidence highlights the risk from Hezbollah. The war fighting season is nearly upon us and there are muscular actions taking place.

Time of Israel reports:

The Lebanese group Hezbollah has built up a massive arsenal of rockets and other advanced weapons in Shi’ite villages of southern Lebanon, a senior Israeli intelligence official said Wednesday, warning civilians would be at risk if war breaks out.

According to the official, Hezbollah has an estimated 100,000 short-range rockets capable of striking northern Israel, several thousand missiles that can reach Tel Aviv and central Israel and hundreds more that can strike the entire country.

Most of the weapons have been transferred to Lebanon through war-torn Syria, coming from Hezbollah’s key allies, the Syrian government and Iran, he said.

The official showed reporters satellite photos of what Israeli intelligence believes are Hezbollah positions in dozens of Shiite villages in southern Lebanon.

The photos were marked with dozens of red icons, signaling what are believed to be missile launchers, arms depots, underground tunnels and command posts.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity under military guidelines, said an estimated 200 villages have been turned into “military strongholds.”

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Sour grapes

The Fox and the Grapes

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei complained that she was overlooked by Angry Andrew for a position on the Intelligence and Security committee because of her sex. She had no proof of this claim apart from the fact that he gave the job to someone else.

He said that he didn’t choose her because he wanted someone with … ‘skills, understanding and experience’  which in her mind implied that she did not have these qualities. Certainly no one would raise an eye brow at his decision to appoint David Shearer given his background in international relations and aid. After all he did spend nearly 20 years working for the UN, managing the provision of aid to countries including Somalia, Rwanda, Liberia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Iraq.No one could say that Andrew Little gave the position to some one less able and experienced than her. In fact the opposite is true as she has no international experience at all. Nothing, nada, nil, zero, nought.

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Matti Friedman on the Media’s Obsession with Israel

This speech by Matti Friedman, a journalist, explains much about the manipulation by media organisations against Israel.

It is being liberally published and has appeared at Honest Reporting and Quadrant Online.

I doubt it will get published in any mainstream media here, so I will.

Read it and understand how you are being manipulated, particularly over issues concerning Israel. It is quite long but very revealing.

One night several years ago, I came out of Bethlehem after a reporting assignment and crossed through the Israeli military checkpoint between that city and its neighbor, Jerusalem, where I live. With me were perhaps a dozen Palestinian men, mostly in their thirties – my age. No soldiers were visible at the entrance to the checkpoint, a precaution against suicide bombers. We saw only steel and concrete. I followed the other men through a metal detector into a stark corridor and followed instructions barked from a loudspeaker – Remove your belt! Lift up your shirt! The voice belonged to a soldier watching us on a closed-circuit camera. Exiting the checkpoint, adjusting my belt and clothing with the others, I felt like a being less than entirely human and understood, not for the first time, how a feeling like that would provoke someone to violence.

Consumers of news will recognize this scene as belonging to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, which keeps the 2.5 million Palestinians in that territory under military rule, and has since 1967. The facts of this situation aren’t much in question. This should be an issue of concern to Israelis, whose democracy, military, and society are corroded by the inequality in the West Bank. This, too, isn’t much in question.

The question we must ask, as observers of the world, is why this conflict has come over time to draw more attention than any other, and why it is presented as it is. How have the doings in a country that constitutes 0.01 percent of the world’s surface become the focus of angst, loathing, and condemnation more than any other? We must ask how Israelis and Palestinians have become the stylized symbol of conflict, of strong and weak, the parallel bars upon which the intellectual Olympians of the West perform their tricks – not Turks and Kurds, not Han Chinese and Tibetans, not British soldiers and Iraqi Muslims, not Iraqi Muslims and Iraqi Christians, not Saudi sheikhs and Saudi women, not Indians and Kashmiris, not drug cartel thugs and Mexican villagers.

Questioning why this is the case is in no way an attempt to evade or obscure reality, which is why I opened with the checkpoint leading from Bethlehem. On the contrary – anyone seeking a full understanding of reality can’t avoid this question. My experiences as a journalist provide part of the answer, and also raise pressing questions that go beyond the practice of journalism.

I have been writing from and about Israel for most of the past 20 years, since I moved there from Toronto at age 17. During the five and a half years I spent as part of the international press corps as a reporter for the American news agency The Associated Press, between 2006 and 2011, I gradually began to be aware of certain malfunctions in the coverage of the Israel story – recurring omissions, recurring inflations, decisions made according to considerations that were not journalistic but political, all in the context of a story staffed and reported more than any other international story on earth. When I worked in the AP’s Jerusalem bureau, the Israel story was covered by more AP news staff than China, or India, or all of the fifty-odd countries of sub-Saharan Africa combined.

This is representative of the industry as a whole.       Read more »

Face of the day

Today’s face of the day is Alicia Gali, a beautiful Australian woman who accepted a Managerial position in Dubai.

What happened to her was terrible. Sharia law in Muslim countries is applied to Christians and all other infidels. Believe it or not Alicia was imprisoned for the crime of being violently gang raped in the hotel where she worked by fellow employees who had spiked her drink making her unconscious. What makes this story even worse is that her employers trapped her in the country by holding on to her passport and the Australian Embassy did not help her leave either. Unable to leave the country, she was forced by the extreme pain from her broken ribs to go to the local hospital. From there her fate was sealed as they lied to her and in Arabic wrote a ‘ confession of her crimes ‘ that they made her sign.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUM3pTwp6xY

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