Friday, April 18, 2008

Is this like, really Stanford?

I had dinner tonight at a sushi restaurant in Palo Alto, the home of Stanford University, which has a reputation for being one of the best in the country. I sat next to a young couple and couldn't help but overhear their conversation, which was peppered with the word "like", as in "it was like, so perfect". I can only assume they are students of Stanford. I've heard young Americans use the word "like" for the last few years, but I did not expect Ivy Leaguers to use it so much.

As I walked home, three older women passed me. I couldn't believe my ears when one of them said "I was like, what?" Now I'm sitting in a hooka bar, and I hear the word used by almost everybody. "He was like, what are you doing tonight?", a young lady said. These cannot be Stanford students! Or are they?

PS: I just asked the group sitting next to me if they are Stanford students. They are still in high school, thankfully:)

"Without Hamas there is no peace at all..."

Moussa Abu Marzouk, speaking to Al Jazeera in Damascus, says "I think without Hamas there is no peace at all...because they are in charge everywhere among the Palestinian[s]" Clayton Swisher says "the keys to Middle East peace lie here in Damascus, rather than anywhere else."

Thursday, April 10, 2008

It Takes a Genius

The letter below was written 60 years ago today. Occupation is not necessarily the problem in Palestine. Injustice is the problem, and what was done to the Palestinians in 1948 was unjust. It seems that Albert Einstein agreed.

We cannot turn back time and undo the injustice of the past, but we can take steps to resolve the problems and injustices that still exist today.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Fall of a Tyrant

I will always remember April 9 as Liberation Day for Iraq. Most Iraqis agree that Saddam had to go, although we do not agree on how he was deposed. I wish Iraqis were able to overthrow him and his regime in 1980. I'm sure Germans wished they were able to overthrow Hitler in 1940. Some tyrants will do anything to maintain power, and Saddam did plenty. Iraqis do not miss him.

Photo taken from facebook group I HATE ANYONE WHO LOVES SADDAM HUSSEIN

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Shia versus Shia

I was very busy finishing up the project in Boston last week, and on Friday I flew to London to see my parents and some relatives for a much needed break. On Saturday I saw my uncle, who is married to a relative of Abdul Aziz al Hakim. In addition to telling some very funny jokes, my father and uncle discussed the current situation in Iraq. My uncle believes that Maliki's attack on the Mehdi army was a good thing. “They need to take on the militias” he said. My father disagreed - he believes that Hakim and his supporters were trying to marginalize the Sadrists before the provincial elections. I already knew what my father thought, having discussed it with him earlier in the day, and although he's never liked Muqtada al Sadr, he told me that the ordinary Iraqis who follow Sadr are very poor, usually nationalistic, and in general are more Iraqi than Hakim and his Badr Brigade. My personal view is that both groups are influenced by Iran and both are led by Islamists who would like to impose Sharia law on all Iraqis. The fighting between seems to have achieved nothing other than to kill innocent Iraqis. After disagreeing with each other, my father and uncle returned to telling jokes and laughing.

Now I'm in Switzerland visiting Iraqi friends, a Shia family who managed to escape Iraq in the late 1990s. All of them agree that most members of the current Iraqi government are ineffective in governing and are more concerned with religion and making themselves rich than helping the Iraqi people. Some believe that Iraq will need decades to evolve into a secular society. Others believe that next year's elections will show that Iraqis are tired of the Islamists. I'm hoping for the latter.