Friday, 27 March 2009

Hajjaj's Latest Cartoon Controversy

Hajjaj's latest cartoon has provoked some controversy among Jordanians and especially Christians, for criticizing the pure waters of the Jordan River at the Baptism site.

The cartoon, although cynical, is a bit edgy and the tone of attack is tangible. Hajjaj's style and talent has grown into a Jordanian phenomenon, closer to the beat of the street and to the life vibe of everyday low and middle class Jordanians.

It is also essential to acknowledge that a cartoon, no matter how critical of a certain issue is supposed to provoke controversy to a certain level, and that's what cartoonists' talent is all about. However, Jordanians are not used to linking religion to any of our contemporary issues. In a statement issued on his personal website, Hajjaj spoke of his respect for the Christian religion, and explained that his cartoon's message was aimed at the Ministry of Water and Irrigation and the latest furor over the polluted water matter.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Jordan Engineers Association: The Mini Jordanian Politics

It is a funny tale of two colours; Green and White, and yet it seems to be the mere true political arena in Jordan, where politics and elections get people going. May be not with enough momentum to make changes, but at least mobilizing them to a certain degree.

The Tale of Two Colours in JEA (Jordan Engineers Association) is a small replica of the political scene in Jordan; where variety is limited to two colours only, and two modes of political campaigning, one loyal to the banner of Islamist thought (White) or right wing, and another devoted to change and thus holding on to left wing thought (Green). The White is dominating the engineering political scene and consequently the union itself, and thus controlling JEA's wealth, estimated roughly at JD 450 million - not a humble amount of money at all in Jordan's economic standards!

So the Whites are controlling the money, Greens want change, and yet the majority of 76,000 Jordanian Engineers are absent from the equation. The monetary contributions poured by engineers into the JEA purse resembles contributing to the mafia! Without effective transparency; the engineers have no idea where the money is going and how. And yet the engineer feels the need to contribute sums of his/her money, to his/her union, after all the union represents their profession and is (supposed to be) a sign of civilized society.

The election battle is fierce and the young (20 and 30 something) Jordanian engineers are not lured into taking part yet. The same faces, shuffle randomly but remain in the picture, leaving many activists of change and variety disappointed.
It is the same old story where Jordanian activism is concerned; we all feel the need to change things, we all have thought about change at some point; but when actions are needed, we tend to dither a bit, and that remains our eternal cultural faux pas!

Sunday, 8 February 2009

The New City of Amman Logo: An Acquired Taste, Perhaps?

The city logo is something that is linked to a city like a name to a person, it is a signature, an identity, and most importantly it should represent a mega entity, not a singular perception. It is something that shouldn’t be put together haphazardly, fortuitously or without deep thought and consideration. It certainly is not an art work assignment, or a graphic design contest. A city logo is official, formal, or at least that's how it is known to be.

The new logo of Amman published by GAM recently, is, although interesting; not a great success, unless we want to portray an image of Amman, as the playful, child friendly city, where the logo is not really different from that of Madrasi initiative, or children museum. The colours, although beautiful, are not timeless; they somehow present a single view of the city at a certain time. The logo does not tell a great deal about what the city itself, given the attributes of history, culture and people. I should be intrigued to find pink and mauve and other colours present at every corner round Amman, but it is certainly not the case. Amman's image is far from that city of neon ghettos, or mystic blue and mauve ice covered mountains.

I think that the traditional wives –tale of the seven hills of Amman, is outdated and obsolete. Amman now represents a cosmopolitan growth, so to build a logo design on a concept that is more than 200 years old, is less sellable nowadays. Besides, some people believe that there are more than seven hills in Amman to begin with.

Changing the logo of the city is an effort that GAM should be applauded for for sure. But decisions are responsibilities, and that responsibility should be handled with ultra proficiency. I hope that they can be more sensitive towards creating a life-long legacy, rather than the flashy temporary brain storming oddities, that we seem to adore in Amman nowadays!

Monday, 19 January 2009

Livni and Rice: Bestest of Friends!

In this article written by Rice for Time's top 100; "Condi" Rice describes her fondness of her "colleague" and "friend" Tzipi Livni, and tells of how they sit together and have long chats about their dads and how exciting motherhood is for Livni who is apparently a "proud Mum"!!!

I am certain that what happened in Gaza has been a great adventure for both of them - not only that they managed to do what is considered "their jobs", but they were able to fit in some quality friendship pondering time as well, how lovely is that!

I am sure that the "children" enjoyed the adventure along with the mother; let's be honest here; how "cool" is it to watch from the distance people with blown-up heads, scattered limbs and blood spilled over freshly-flattened houses, who could miss that?!

This post is nothing but to say:

Thank You Livni, Thank You Rice

Without role models like yourselves; women and mothers round the world would be lost. Thank you for saving the day, and for caring in providing entertainment for your children throughout. But most importantly, thank you for your hard work and dedication for creating a better world for all the people in the "region" including women and children.

Speaking of which…
Gazan Mothers,
You have utterly SHAMED MOTHERHOOD!

Refusing to sacrifice trivial things like your children, your peace of mind and your lives, for such noble purposes like Elections! Political Friendships! Agendas! Entertainment! The Bush Administration! The "Peace"!

Shame on You!

Thursday, 15 January 2009

New Beginnings! What New Beginnings?!

“The blazing sun filled the streets with the colour of blood. And Gaza was brand new, Mustafa!” -Ghassan Kanafani, Letter from Gaza.

It’s hard to talk about new beginnings, when the suffering is never-ending, and history fails in anything but in repeating itself. For Gazans and for the Palestinians, the tunnel is definitely dark, narrow and end-less.
And yet there seem to be a huge amount of worship for the Palestinian cause, equivalent or even surpassing that of frustration. This worship has established the Palestinian cause as a religion that speaks to the conscious of humanity - There are children under the debris in Gaza, that have taught us lessons about freedom and determination, to whom the world cannot but bow in awe! But sadly, when such dignified values clash with the reality of power, strategies and state terror practiced by Israel, the results are tragic. Even talks about the aftermath of come what may this tragedy is always guilt wrapped , ideologized, censored or even muted.

So what does the future hold?

Ironically, the near future holds nothing new for the Palestinians, who are still under occupation and that’s the major issue. Unfortunately, this story is not a Hollywood masterpiece where the ultimate courageous hero will win at the end; this is a real life story, an episode in a long epic documentary about the story of Palestinian struggle. So regardless of who claims to have won or is winning now; realities on the ground speak a more honest truth about what is happening.
Hamas will still be in the picture, although more empowered, more legitimized than before. Israel cannot rely on international forces to guard its borders with Egypt, so an actual truce is only achieved through opening dialogue channels with Hamas and only Hamas, this way Israel can guarantee safe borders, and Hamas will bounce back more politically empowered. Now the Palestinian Authority will have to stand facing Hamas in an awkward position, who has the final say on the future of the Palestinians? Mustafa Barghouthi clearly points out that any authority under occupation is a false authority, so the answer would be to unify all the factions to form one Palestinian government. But, who will guarantee for Israel that this new government will work for the security of Israel? An important milestone to any peace talks from a solely Israeli and American perspective. The Palestinians however (Gazans more specifically) see things differently, and clearly believe that resistance is the only way to combat in-justice practiced by Israel - Israel which will not stop building more settlements, or stealing more Palestinian lands, or even solve the refugees problem or discuss Jerusalem. For Israel, these are a bunch of topics for another day!

But can there be any hope for their cause?

Che Guevara once said that “Whenever death may surprise us, let it be welcome if our battle cry has reached even one receptive ear and another hand reaches out to take up our arms” - May be illuminating the Palestinian cause – which seems more honest and just than ever- is the only good thing that came out of this tragedy. The death toll up until this moment is horrendous (more than 1070), and that’s not just a number. There are children’s dreams involved, mothers’ love, and dads and toys and aspirations and homes and hopes all gone! But for the Gazans, life will have to go on at some point, and hopefully they will be able to enjoy new beginnings just like every other human being!

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Is Israel’s Diplomatic Failure Hinting to A Military Failure?

Israel’s war against the Palestinians is questioning with some odd thoughts the diplomacy of Israel; certainly not succeeding as a military force to convince the Palestinians still of its occupation, or justify for the angry Arab masses the latest assault on Gaza; despite some Moderate voices who are still convinced that Hamas is the issue.

Strategically, its military occupation is definitely focusing on its targets and working by the imperialist old book of creating sub-ordinate entities within the Palestinian lands – By basically dividing Gaza and the West Bank from the rest of the Palestinian territories.

The Israeli project, although logistically winning; is definitely failing in the diplomatic arena. Israel’s long history of violence, right-wing driven politics armed with an extremist cavalry, infantry and war machine, have reduced Israel’s popularity to plummeting levels.

Compared to a colonial success like that of Great Britain, one has to again evaluate the power of diplomacy when it comes to military success. Albeit Britain’s vast conquer of more than two thirds of the world, it has also succeeded in keeping its record clean, and also in maintaining good diplomatic ties with its colonies. The British diplomacy, along with supreme tactics and a legendary army, have never failed both logistically or politically.

Prince Harry was forced to apologize yesterday for calling fellow army officer with offensive remarks , mainly “Paki” (Pakistani), and another that he looked like a “raghead” (often used for Iraqis and Taliban). His apology was quickly reported in the media, so the British prince wont be called racist. British diplomacy came to the rescue of Prince Harry – The third in line to the throne, in the middle of their war in Iraq and Afghanistan. In British diplomacy laws, it is okay to declare war on nations, but to call them ragheads is definitely off limits!

If only Israel can use a bit of diplomacy in its current assault on Gaza! Why Is it off limits if one Israeli diplomat condemned at least one single Israeli violation against innocent Palestinians? If they only read enough history books; they might teach them a bit about THE POWER OF DIPLOMACY!

Friday, 9 January 2009

Left or Right: Which Way Jordanian Moderates Will Bounce To?

The shadows cast by the latest escalations in Gaza, will leave the Jordanian Moderates in a tough spot; many will choose to politically move to the left, or towards Islamist ideology.
Chafez (A good old Leftie) made a welcomed gesture of expelling the Israeli ambassador to Venezuela, perceived now as a hero in Jordan; this will certainly add to the popularity of Leftists like Che Guevara, Videl Castro who are all symbols of resistance and have been popular in the region for years, but now are viewed as role models, with protestors carrying their portraits everywhere.

A roughly drawn sketch of the political party scene in Jordan will show Islamists, Centrism Moderates, and Leftists - Not a great variety when it comes to adapting or practicing an ideology.

The Jordanian Middle or Moderate Middle, however, will not stand a chance amidst the anger and turmoil fueled by the current Gaza escalations. Some of them Moderates will resolve to Islamist ideology – a solid organized religious activism with “boycott Israel” as its favourite slogan. While The Jordanian Lefties will wave the flags of boycotting Israel now, albeit supporting the peace treaty with Israel before. The Left is the one to watch certainly, as it re-establishes itself politically in Jordan.

The Moderate stance that Jordan as a country represents will remain intact, although terribly disturbed by the latest Israeli atrocities.
Perhaps Moderation is a hard word to swallow when there’s an ongoing bloodshed and violations of human rights. Harder to swallow still is the fact that the Moderate Arab states are dealing with an Extreme Right Israeli government - Moderation in this case can be described as a risky adventure, while sitting on the fence!