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Friday, February 27, 2004

Spring in the Air

Sun, such a luxurios treat, is here to stay. Smells like Spring.

Together with the birds outside my windows, I'm arranging the nest. Winter clothes up, light ones back to the lower shelves. Time to go back to wintering manuscripts. Hard to believe, yet my meeting with Liana Badr took place in Jerusalem back in 1995.




"... Liana means, in Arabic, something gentle and delicate.

My father borrowed the name from an Arab poem from the thirteen century. A love poem.


My father was very interested in the heritage of Arabic literature. He knew all the masterpieces of ancient Arabic poetry by heart. He chose this name because Liana was a rare name back then.

The name tells me that I have been lucky, that I have to make good use of this luck of mine: to work and write about reality in the best way.



My father tried to induce me to learn Arabic poetry by heart, encouraged me, gave me prizes - also for knowledge in astronomy.

My father was interested in ancient Arab astronomy, he was a real scientist, one of the great astronomers in the Arab world. He built a telescope with his own hands, in 1963, here, in Jericho.

Worked six months just on polishing the lenses.

He was a doctor. He opened a people's clinic, especially for the poor, especially to serve the refugees after 1948. He would treat them most of the time for free. And my mother was an impressive woman. She was an intellectual and worked as a school principal.



My father's name was Abdel Rakhim Badr, and my mother's name was Khayat.

The family name, Badr, means - full moon. This name is also connected to Arabic heritage. Badr was a famous name in our culture, a name for heroes. Now it's the name of my father's family in Hebron.

True, my father was an astronomer - and the family name means, Full Moon...

There is also the meaning of completeness, wholeness.



I was born in Jerusalem. We lived in a very big house. There were my aunts, and their children.

Later my parents rented another house in Jerusalem, to be on their own - but I have deep connections to both houses.



Now that I'm back after twenty seven years, I went to the house we used to rent and I met the landlords. I told them that I remembered the furniture, the trees.

They told me that when I was two or three years old I used to ask them on the Ramadan holiday, "Is this your holiday? Are you celebrating your holiday?"

At that time I considered myself a communist, like my father and mother.



I tried to absorb the political reality then.

Once I asked my mother - we were walking on the street, to the shops, here, not far from the American Colony, to buy some chocolate for me, that's what she told me later, and I asked her: "Where is my daddy?"

She said, "He's in prison."

I asked her, "Why is he in prison? All the time you say, prison, prison, Who are the people who took him to prison?"

She said, "Colonialsm took him to prison.

I said, "Oh, bring me this man, Colonialism. I will lock him in the bathroom, you'll give me a stick and I'll beat him up!..."



~ ~ ~ ~ ~



excerpt from the "Oh Jerusalem!" manuscript.

At the time of Liana's early childhood, East Jerusalem was under Jordanian rule.

Friday, February 13, 2004

A Butterfly and Phantoms

I've been walking around today and yesterday with a feeling that that was it, Orna has died. I would come into the house from the garden and Raoul would say, "You had a phone call."



A minute under the drug she said, "What have I done, why did I agree to change rooms." She made an effort so that I, who knew about clothes, would understand: "Imagine, Anna, that you went to the store to buy a dress, and were pleased, and came home and the dress was narrow, and short, and didn't fit you."



"You can still go to the store and exchange the dress, Orna. Right?"



She tried to smile and nod. I think she stopped eating in order to die. To come back home from her, it's not easy. In the doorway Raoul moves shoulder and body to avoid contact.



Tonight, I sat on a chair in the dark, clenched the glass in my hand and threw it down. I too can break, not just you. He jumps up: What happened? And back to sleep. I gathered the splinters with the broom. Raoul lifted his head from the pillow and said, "You alreadyswept today whatareyoudoing gotosleep -broken?" (At noon the boss had decided to fire the assistant and he, Raoul, asked permission to tell her himself first, so she wouldn't get hurt). In the street the sky was filled with lightning. Later it became quiet. The rain came down and chilled my eyes. Maybe there'll be a miracle. A miracle can always still happen. The nurses in the hospice nodded their heads, "Yes, a miracle can always still happen."



Raoul still wants my body. Withdraws as if hating himself for having given in to hunger. I massaged her face with oil, the jaw bones, the neck, and she, like a baby, was glad to be touched, calmed down a little. The blue eyes looked as if sunken inside black tires that someone would soon set fire to in protest. A few months ago she came to me to help her sew a dress, looked at the garden and laughed, "All this you are growing? Eggplants as well? And tomatoes?"



I showed her the Cosmos, Zinnias, Celosia.

Perhaps you want me to write down what it is I am trying to learn from the plants: To see that there is a cycle in nature. Did you know that a hedgehog is born without any thorns?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Excerpt from "Sodot" (A Minyan of Lovers)

The Good, The Bad, The Beautiful

ONCE SHE WAS A CHILD tells the universal story of childhood in times of upheaval, as conveyed by some of the most extraordinary international woman writers.



Done mostly on location, these intimate encounters mirror a rainbow of human existence shaped by injustice, turmoil and struggle, and still victorious: six year-old Russian Svetlana Vasilenko awaiting death while caught between the Powers dueling with nuclear bombs; the little Italian child Dacia Maraini starved in a Japanese concentration camp; twelve-year-old. Belgian Amelie Nothomb, reading by candle light in a Bangladeshi lepers' house; five-year-old Leena Lander living in the Finnish prison for delinquent boys where her father worked as a supervisor, contemplating in fear and horror her sexually mangled doll found thrown in the forest; eight-year-old Palestinian Anissa Darwish torn by war from the Malkha village of her sweet childhood - all and each of the writers in this book map the way to survival and hope.



They ask us also to take a second look at our own life, and, well informed, to make sure the right decisions are taken in all that concerns this precious little world.



As a literary form, ONCE SHE WAS A CHILD is a hybrid: it owns the genes of literary fiction, with its attention to language, ambiguities and symbols, carved out by the author's mostly invisible questions, and editing; and it carries the genes of narrative nonfiction as those are real life stories of real, and most impressive persons, showing how gloriously they've survived Evil. Glimpses from The Past, of childhood recollections, set, like pearls on a string, with my journal as the connecting thread or background. The reader is invited to absorb. At the end of the book s/he'll discover in a separate section, as an addendum, how far they've reached in The Present.




Tel-Aviv, 12 January 2001

I am working on the conversation with Svetlana, and in my ears her melancholy voice keeps echoing, "Each moment we don't know, now, at this very second, "the blow" will come."



In a duet with my radio, here, now.

The day before yesterday they announced that Saddam Hussein had pledged not to attack Israel.

Yesterday came an Iraqi denial. "We were not exchanging messages with Israel."



The United States announced that it would not attack Iraq before the end of the Winter Olympics, on February 22; The United States will not attack before Parents' Day at the university of the Clintons' daughter, on March first, says the radio.



Svetlana arrived at Yaddo, an artist colony in Upstate New York, a few days before I left it.



In Israel I asked Victor, a friend who came several times especially from Jerusalem and translated word for word from the Russian of our conversation. When we finished, he said, "My wife had been the victim of an atomic accident, before she was even born."



November 25, 1998



Russia is helping Iran build atomic reactors. Back in February Victor had said:



"My wife was born in 1958. I found out about her problem right when we met, in the beginning of the Eighties. I found out that she was suffering from glandular enlargement. The symptoms of the disease were that she would get tired very quickly and have headaches. After a medical checkup, they suggested an operation to remove the gland. In the course of treating her, the doctors, who looked into her life history, said that most probably it was a result of the fact that her mother had been pregnant with her after an explosion which took place in 1957 near them, in a town which was then called Cheliabinsk 65, and today has a more civilian name, Sneginsk. The place is in the Ural Mountains. Northeast Russia.



"They built a center for nuclear research there, and that's where the explosion occurred.

"This town was fenced in and under strict guard, like Svetlana's.



"My wife wasn't living inside the military town but in a village a few dozens kilometers away.

"From the rumors I learned that radioactive water had gathered in containers above the allowed ceiling allowed, exploded and poured out into the area, and permeated into the lakes and rivers in the neighborhood. There were many lakes there, and streams and rivers.



"They didn't make any official announcement, but they evacuated all those who lived in a radius of five, ten kilometers. They built new villages for them and destroyed the old ones.



"The main problem, as I see it, is that this radiation spread in the water, through the streams and the lakes - because the lakes there are connected to each other, that's how nature is over there, a very beautiful area, lakes, thick forests...



"They lived in the village until she was fifteen - then her father got an appointment in the county town, managing the milk industry there.

"He told me that he'd even spoken with the members of the committee which had been set up to deal with the problem. They'd set up several committees there, a military one, a government one, and many senior officials came to the area - it was the first radioactive disaster in Russia on such a scale. In 1957.



"And even he didn't know exactly, they didn't know the real dangers. No one explained to people what radiation was, what it meant, what radiation absorption was.



"They didn't explain it to the inhabitants."



But all their food, the animals - -



"Exactly: cows, milk, grass, food for the cows - the whole environment there was highly contaminated, and is still contaminated today, as far as I know.



"Her father was responsible for the milk. I believe they inspected the milk secretly so that even he and the locals didn't know, it was known only to the scientists, who had been signed to secrecy, and to party members.



"The actual fact that there had been an explosion was known more or less the whole time, but they started writing about it intensively and openly only after Gurbachev came to power and the freedom of speech over there developed a little, and especially after the Chernobyl disaster.

"Chernobyl was in May 1986.



"After the Chernobyl disaster there was a great rise in awareness in Russia of the nuclear problem and many residents in many counties woke up and started looking around them, what's this atomic station over here and what's this factory over there, and what kind of material is being buried here.



"People started to open their eyes a little."



Svetlana Vasilievna Vasilenko

Yesterday I told you about 1962 and about the Caribbean Crisis.

I was six at the time.



There was a quarrel between Kennedy and Khrushchev, the atomic quarrel which could have resulted in the end of the world. Kennedy gave Khrushchev an ultimatum, to get the missiles out of Cuba within an allotted time.



And in our town, because it was a missile town, and it concerned all of us, our fathers and our mothers and us children - everyone really, at work, at home, in kindergarten, everyone was talking about it. Will there be war or not. Many officers used to come to our house, because we had a television set, and my mother was known for her hospitality, and they talked about these problems at the table. They sat around the table, and we children played next to them.



Then father disappeared. By then he had already been sleeping at the launching site. All the officers were sleeping there. It was already a state of emergency.

For a week we didn't know what was going on.



One day, when I was in kindergarten, they came to us and said, "Take the children to the steppe because the ultimatum is about to expire tonight and we can expect a 'blow'."

Isolation

Reading online has helped me see that there are so many people who share my concerns. The problem is that the author is isolated. Writers are not in the mindset of conglomerates, which makes it easy for the last to act by "Divide and Rule".



What we can do as individuals is still a lot, and can make a difference. As teachers and professors we can teach how to discern, maybe create a new form of Comparative Literature, that will compare real books to the nonbooks polluting our culture.



As reviewers we can create this kind of review, in which a new book of value is presented along with a nonbook from among the "best sellers". Compare a "how-to" book to passages in literature which deal with human dilemmas in lasting and forceful ways.



Those among us who are successful literary writers can pressure the houses that publish them to devote a percentage of their budget to literary works chosen for their literary value alone, and to invest in their publication the same resources invested in the selling of a commercial book.



We can also demand from the newspapers that, along with and on the same page as, their list of the weekly "Best Sellers," they publish a list of "Best Books." Even if many newspapers belong to the same owner-publisher, they cannot exist without their journalists' co-operation.



We can patronize independent bookstores and consider the slight difference in price as our individual contribution to the sustenance of culture. Being creative by nature, we can devise innumerable ways to have our concerns voiced and heard, create change. And since writing is our common language, we should strive to make it the real global language, by opening up to the rich diversity of the international spectrum. This applies especially to the insularity of the U.S.A.



As for the nature of change we're witnessing - the second law of thermodynamics applies only to Time, not to what we do in time. Of course the past cannot be changed, but our actions as a society or as individuals can be changed at present and in the future. I am encouraged by the model of the Green Movement. It has built awareness and brought about a reversal of actions: threatened with the possibility that people won't invest in or patronize companies that do harm to our environment, conglomerates as well as small businesses go out of their way to manifest that they are acting ecologically. Maybe we should enlist the Green Movement's support.

Pollution is pollution, be it intellectual or physical.



I was also thinking that, left to their own ways, big businesses do not find it in their interest to support independent thinking. An intelligent and culturally well-informed reader is not the type of consumer or laborer easy to manipulate. Therefore, I think it is in the interest of our society and democracy, not only in that of the writer, to reverse the tide.



Where has the Revolution gone asleep?



It might seem such a trivial subject nowadays, when we fear for our lives today or to-morrow and a mood of fatalistic desperation or denial is covering us with the politicians' silencing blanket, yet isn't it at the heart of the issue?

Destiny's Choice

Paris, Thursday, 31 August, 1995

Thin, tall, a pure beauty as if emanating from the soul. Moves like a silk scarf and so does her voice.

She opened some albums. The daughter-in-law, in her twenties, came in with the baby, a ten months old guy full of force. They live in Beirut and are visiting for the summer.



I asked, How is life now in Beirut? And she answered in a gentle voice, "Not good. Israel is in the south of Lebanon, invaded it, we are under occupation, you know... It's a real war." She didn't say, y o u occupied. "You", in English, is both singular and plural. All these years I've been washing my hands -I am not "they", I am Corinna, don't put me into any drawers.



But it is a fact that I didn't go to the fence to stop the fighters on both sides with my own two hands.

The baby Alexander gargled sweetly in his international language, with a trusting smile as he stretched out his hands and Venus said, glowing, "Write about him, how wonderful he is! Will you write about him?"

In two weeks he will return to Beirut and he doesn't know and his parents don't know what is waiting for them there.



Venus lives on the ground floor of a building surrounded by a large garden, next to a park. Through the panoramic windows of the enormous living room, snapdragons and roses were blossoming, dozens of flower varieties that Venus, my sister in the love of gardening, had sown and planted and nurtures.




Venus Khoury-Ghata:



I hate my name. When I was born, my mother gave me a very beautiful name. Dianne. Like Diana, the goddess from Greek mythology.



A week later, one of the neighbors, a doctor, bought a dog. And he called his dog, "Dianne".



My mother was very angry and she picked up the dictionary to look for an e v e n m o r e important goddess than Diana. She found Venus - the goddess of love and beauty.



I liked the name when I lived in Lebanon and was young and beautiful. But for some years now I hate my name. I see myself in old age, and with this name.



Today I presented a new book to my editor at Jean Claude Latess. I asked them to print it under the name, V. Khoury-Ghata.



They told me, "You've published twenty-two books under the name Venus Khoury-Ghata, and now you want us to take out Venus and put just the letter V?"



In my youth in Lebanon I was beautiful. Foolish people gave me the title of "Miss Beirut 1959."

Then the name Venus fitted me.

Now I'm not a Miss. I'm a writer, and I lead a very austere life, and the name doesn't fit.



(excerpt from ONCE SHE WAS A CHILD)

Life As A Picnic

It is Friday 2:00 a.m in Israel and the new moon is not yet re-born.

That's how we call the night of the new moon ("Yareah") in Hebrew: The rebirthing of the moon. "Molad Hayareah". But then, the holiday ("Hag") some might call Christmas, is named in Hebrew: "Hag Hamolad".



I'm reading so many blogs, and Eric Olsen's Blogcritics for sure - especially all those touching on the imminent war - since it so happens that for me the issue is a bit too close home.



I sense an eagerness in USA to get "this" (the war, of course) done with. I recognize the pattern, first the urgent messages from high above and then, when our mind is broken into pieces, made to believe war after war that this one is the final and last one, the final destruction of the Devil to be followed by Peace on Earth.

Then, unable to stand the pressure anymore, all we want is to have it done with, come what might come.



So one question is ringing throughout the virtual word: When?

The question on my mind, and on the mind of so many in my country and region is rather, Will the new moon give birth to salvation or to darkness?



Because, you see, I know just that I do not know the truth, I have no direct access to information. All I know, directly, from a lifetime spent in the prison named War On Earth in which the few days that carried some semblance of repose were just a short reprieve - is that war brings death and suffering to the innocents. No distraction. Destruction.



And I do not know, I am totally baffled: How come that with such advanced technology that can track down every single truck, how come no way is found to track down Saddam Hussein and his not that many loyal soldiers? Why is there a need to burn forest after forest in order to kill a few snakes?



And why, why is there such a need to go as far as Iraq, in order to bring peace to the Middle East? Isn't Israel, geographically, closer than Iraq to USA and Europe? So, while on their way, why not stop first here as Carter managed to do not badly at all some twenty years ago?



When I read Eric's quotation of Gen. Tommy Franks: "We'll do our best to avoid noncombatant casualities, and I will tell you, we will not be 100 percent successful - I cannot but think, Does he mean me in Tel-Aviv as well?



In my mind, what I see is the world as a big theatre (Yes, I know, Shakespeare had plagiarized me of late).

High above and all around in the balconies and all over the stairs sit people from all the far away countries, waiting for "action". In the no grass field stand the Allies facing the Enemy.



In between sits Corinna, knowing deep in her bones that it is not a picnic.




During the Lebanon War, the Israeli soldiers took some famous songs and changed the words a bit. I've arranged them as in a collage and implemented in a chapter of my recently published Sodot novel (Secrets, or A Minyan of Lovers):



"...In a red dress with two braids in her hair a little girl in a Beirut bomb shelter stood there and asked: Why at all? And all the canons and all the soldiers, and all the grown-ups and all the sages and all the King's horses and all the King's men couldn't come up with an answer again.

In a red dress with two braids in her hair the daughter of a soldier fighting up there stood up and asked: How many more? And all the volcanoes and all the storms and all the lions and all the tigers and all the grown-ups and all the sages and all the King's horses and all the King's men couldn't come up with an answer again..."

A Fiery Debate

Maybe, maybe you all are masked Israelis?

Reading all this heated and friendly debate I feel mostly at home, as this is the language of debate so often frequented here, (especially on a "politica" discussion on TV and in the Knesset (Parliament).



But then I remember that back in 1976 in London during a scorching and most unusual heat wave, I had the same feeling. The British lost their cool and even the policemen were far from being polite. Everybody was swearing! So, it's all a question of weather...



In my Sodot book (sorry, still only in Hebrew) a Christian lover says to Anna, his Jewish girlfriend, "The Jews are always knowing all the answers, right?!"

To which she answers, "My name is Anna."

Then tears come to his eyes and he says, "Forgive me. I'm such an ignorant."



And indeed, every musician has a name, and so has every human being. Is it right to assume that the silent majority has no objection, that silence always signals acceptance? Not everybody knows to sing or prefers to do so in a choir alone. The beauty of humanity is that we are so versatile and different, that every human being has a unique personality. Would you like to live in a world where everybody walks in step with the Leader? This is the universe of Saddam Hussein, an universe we agree has no right of existence, not only in Iraq etc but also not in our Western democracies.



When you use the "Do not supply hope to the Enemy" argument, the danger is that you might become the Enemy mirrored. It is an old saying that teaches, "Choose well your enemy, because you might become him." We cannot choose the enemy, but we still can choose not to adopt its arguments.



Regretfully, I must say that in my country this sort of arguments has gained much ground. Nothing is more persuasive than fear and hatred. So, we have stopped providing the Hammass with Hope. The result is that Despair aids them even more.



Life could have been so much better if we knew beforehand which is the right path to go. Since we do not know, and since to a large extent our ignorance is fabricated by The Leaders everywhere, even in our enlighted democracies, we must voice our gut feelings, we must balance the self assurance of our goverments with our huge question mark.



Of course we are all living inside our skins, and a far away human life has no face. But what if Iraq was in Alabama, now, in 2003, with USA's present technology, not two hundred twenty seven years ago? Won't you rather ask, demand of your goverment to first try any diplomatic means possible, the UN, etc, and then hit only well defined military targets?



It has worked some twenty years ago when Israel hit the nuclear Iraqi plant. For sure it can be implemented today with the much higher technology USA has access to now.

By the way, while we are debating, there is a war going on in Iraq.

"Let them hate so long as they fear."

The following is an excerpt innocently quoted from a brilliant article by Gideon Samet in today's Haaretz newspaper. Needless to say, and sorrowfully, I share his insights:



"... Sharon's continuing success also includes the enlistment of the American president in the cause to prevent any initiative for a peace process. Indeed, there's something hypnotic and almost horrifying about George Bush Jr.'s behavior. He's becoming a kind of American Arik, leading his country, against stiff opposition, into a war for which seemingly there's no alternative.



The political counselor at the U.S. embassy in Greece, John Brady Kiesling, announced this week to Secretary of State Colin Powell that he was resigning from the Foreign Service. The resignation came in a letter that Kiesling unconventionally released for publication. It's a courageous letter that could be written by quite a few senior Israeli officials burdened by Sharon's dangerous political games.



"The policies we are now asked to advance are incompatible not only with American values but also with American interests," wrote Kiesling. The veteran diplomat, who served in the past in Tel Aviv, numbered the administration's failings with regard to the Iraq war, saying his conscience does not allow him to go on, and quoting the saying from the days of the Roman empire, "oderint dum metuant" - "let them hate so long as they fear."



He was too polite to add that the saying, according to Roman historian Suetonius, was a particular favorite of the Emperor Caligula.

Wednesday, February 4, 2004

A Miracle

I must confess that a year ago I didn't even know, or rather I was too scared to even dare think of websites.

I even avoided dreaming about them, except the one dream of having a website of my own.



Yet, surprise, a year since then my very website is, almost entirely, of my own design.



Not technically, not at all, but from the moment I started confronting the dream on my own terms, I spent close to half a year searching and researching the Net.



First of all I discovered that designing a site is an Art, and that among the website designers there are some excellent and most exciting real artists.

And believe me, I've visited many.



They taught me the importance of order (no one can stand the insecurity of a maze), perfectionism (which all art demands and here especially, since one single mistaken dot might lead you astray), and the power of color.



The last was indeed a kind of revelation, as I tend to regard color as a matter of fact element, while words... Being a writer I could only remember that in the beginning was the Word, and by word alone the world was created. (look at this! We do not have this similarity in Hebrew).



Well, Hebrew was created before the Word, wasn't it?



So, like our famous God, when I finally knew what I wanted, it was easy to draw a map and say to the designer in Israel: this is what I want to have, show, express, on my site (and don't you dare change a dot, I whispered unheard).

Let there be a Website!



The only things, and maybe the most important parts, the designer did provide, were the colors, which I'm very happy with, as they express my nature - and the idea to write my name in handwriting for the title. I've tried this earlier with a pen, but it did not work. So Netta at Atarim advised me to use a marker. This solved the problem.



Now that you know my secrets all around, you're welcome to visit my website.



And while there, why not visit my generous host, the Patchword site.



More on Patchword in my next installment. Stay tuned!

Secrets

I was asked why had I set a Jewish mother in the first chapter of Sodot and an Arab mother at the ending.

The question never occured to me. I do not sit at the table with a math copybook and a ruler, to definitely organize the chapters as in the army.

And for me both Anna and Siwar are not only mothers, their motherhood is part of their womanhood.

Revelation (Siwar's journal) belongs to the Epilogue, is the Epilogue, is a novel on its own.

And Anna, well, she's the beginning, as the first word in the Bible reads, In the Beginning.

Two women, and worlds apart. Two women and to the discerning eye, just one.

Secrets.

Tuesday, February 3, 2004

Who's Calling? Janet Jackson?

I'm calling from Israel and I'm really upset.

Eric, how could you give my phone number to that Janet Jackson? Excuse me, but you were invading my privacy, and I've been trusting you all along!

She's impossible, calls every second minute.

I told her I'm not interested.



She'd asked for my son. Can you believe this! How far can somebody go just for that sacred "rating"? He's married, they're expecting, who is this lady anyway, who is she thinking herself?



Is she the most promising candidate for Presidency in your country?

Well, my due respects, but I'm not supposed to interfere in USA's internal affairs - as illustrated by your present one's non-involvment - your goverment has no influence on ours.



Is she the very lady who solved the mystery surrounding AIDS/Cancer/the Iraqi bacterial weapons/nuclear hideaways?

No?

No Nobel Prize winner either?



What is this SuperBowl she was screaming about?

Couldn't hear what she was offering in it? Popcorn? Ice-cream?

And me eternally on diet.



And what kind of "half-time"? Is she thinking herself God on Earth? I'm not the one to settle for less than Full-time, full-time of everything from now to eternity, baby.



Oh Eric, Why did you give her my phone number, why?

You want to call me back later on? No Way! You cannot call me back, in my house and all over the country and region the phone lines got burned, could not stand the stress, no line left, no cellular phone either, no Internet broad band - we sit here in darkness and all I want, up to my last breast (you see, even the speller got ruined), is to know, Why, Oh Eric, Why?



If you wish to repent, if you really want me to forgive you - give her Arik Sharon's hone number, will you?



This piece was written following an e-mail from Eric Olsen, Editor, Blogcritics -

proudly announcing yesterday over 250.000 individual surfers entered the site,

lured by some sacred words of distinction:

Janet Jackson, Super Bowl, half-time.

it seems that some earth shaking event has taken place in Great USA. As a dutiful native, how could I have ignored this?

Sunday, February 1, 2004

Iraqi Women

From Riverbend I've learnt a while ago about the present Iraqi goverment resolution to change the secular Family Law to the strict religious one. I'm wondering what is the response of the USA women - are you flooding the mail boxes and phones and faxes of your goverment, are you running any rally in support?



Iraqi women are fighting for equality.

Where are the promises of democracy? Buried that fast...



Here is an excerpt from a new diary, with an unforgetable report, by Yanar, straight from Iraq:



"...I was in the front porch heading for the main door when two men smoking their after-lunch cigarettes started waving their hands pointing to the side door saying 'Awa'el enna' which means 'families this way'. My head heavy with sleepiness, I decided to ignore them and to step into the mainstream society door... and anyway I looked so dull I thought that nobody will pay any attention.



The moment I stepped inside, almost five men around me informed me of the same issue... 'Awa'el... Awa'el... and they pointed at the side door. Now, I became impatient and decided to defy their being mentally retarded and just sit down and order food the way I did 3 months ago.



It seems I misjudged the situation that exploded all around me. All the men in the room started shouting like one big choir in total agreement Awa'el...Awa'el... I turned left and right to the big outraged audience... looked for one single opposition. None was there.



I went, totally humiliated and outnumbered into Awa'el... and began wondering. Being a woman at this point in time and place... who are my first and most dangerous enemies... Is it the disperse American tanks outside on the highway that need Iraqi army to protect them on the road to Tikrit and Smara that has turned into a sries of pitfalls (every pit of which means an exploding mine and a few American lives), or are my real enemies the ones sitting inside the restaurant that suffered euphoria and panic because of a veilless woman stepping into their no-woman zone.



I had a feeling that the enemy outside hiding inside the tanks and flying the helicopters left and right of the highway would be leaving us someday... imply in order to run for their lives (same as they did in Vietnam). Then again, the enemies that want me to disappear from their eyesight, whether by hiding in the Awa'el, under the veil, in my house or behind any man... these will be staying around... and for a long time."