Neshan and Jon Stewart, The Zionist

Is there anything better than your healthy dose of Zionism to kick off the day?

While hosting Bassem Youssef on his show yesterday, Neshan decided that Youssef’s friend, the infamous Jon Stewart, is nothing more than a Zionist. Just because he’s Jewish.

Bassem Youssef was polite enough to tell Neshan that, contrary to popular belief, Jon Stewart’s religion has nothing to do with his political mindset, that he is a defender of the Palestinian cause, etc.

Of course, you might as well have been talking to a wall.

Not to expect the mentality set forth by the likes of Neshan in this part of the world is absurd. But what’s shocking is that someone like Neshan – a self-proclaimed educated individual (you only need to listen to his degustation of every letter in an Arabic sentence) – doesn’t know the simple and yet very important fact that we all need to grasp: Jewish does not equate Zionist.

Instead of trying to stop the perpetuation of this blatant racism and incessant ignorance, Neshan not only fuels them but helps affirm them in the minds of the millions who already believe such ideologies.

In what world is Jon Stewart a Zionist? In the world of ignorant individuals who can’t get past their hate, their prejudices, their closed-mindedness, their ignorance, their racism.

There’s nothing different between what Neshan believes and between those who believe all Muslims are terrorists. Except maybe one generalization gives the people in this area some drive, some peace of mind while the other makes them rally in anger.

In the grand scheme of things, Neshan is irrelevant compared to Jon Stewart. I don’t even like his style of interviewing. But he apparently represents a mentality that people with the exposure he has should not possess. And that mentality is more dangerous than his presumed pretentiousness.

Lebanon Described in 1870

This seems very familiar, right?
Some things may have changed. But the crux of it all is still the same.


It’s been 142 years and this still rings true. Should this sadden us? Or should this open up the eyes of those who are still blinded by the infinite quest towards national unity which will never happen?


Welcome to the republic of eternal fragmentation.

The Maghen Abraham Synagogue in Downtown Beirut, Lebanon

I recently visited the Wadi Bou Jamil area in Downtown Beirut to check out the infamous synagogue, currently being renovated. The area itself is a security zone within a security zone – call it security zone-ception. They have security forces for Hariri’s “Beit el Wasat,” the Serail and the synagogue itself.

You can get to the synagogue by walking up the stairs of the Serail and then walking on the street towards the Capuchin church. Once you reach the church, proceed to the street that is sealed off with one of the red plastic barricades, with an ISF person guarding the entrance to the synagogue’s street. Don’t worry about him, though, just proceed as if he doesn’t exist.

As a result of the security zones, the synagogue is off limits by a huge gate that is sealed shut. You can still see the building from outside but you are not allowed to go in. Furthermore, you are prohibited from taking pictures of any kind whatsoever.

We asked the security guard present near the synagogue if we can get access if we happened to be Jewish and he said no. He then said no one comes to this area except for very few tourists who want to look around, which is understandable because the area is so segregated from Downtown Beirut and yet so close that finding it is a task on its own so many Lebanese don’t care it exists to begin with.

I wonder, though, what’s the point behind so much security if the synagogue’s renovation is supported by the different political parties in Lebanon? I guess what’s been declared is drastically different from the hidden intentions…. Typical of Lebanon.

Until then, the synagogue is such a beautiful location in Beirut, in a very serene area of Downtown Beirut, whose calm contrasts drastically with the bustle of the surrounding shops and streets. It won’t be long before they ruin it with high-rises as well. They’re already talking about demolishing the Roman hippodrome near the synagogue to replace it with a high-rise.

Sophie’s Choice – Movie Review

I have been intrigued by this movie ever since I read a newspaper article about how great Meryl Streep was in it. The fact that it was also referenced many times on The Big Bang Theory doesn’t hurt either and I recently got the opportunity to watch it.

Sophie’s Choice tells the story of Sophie (Meryl Streep), a Polish Catholic and a survivor of the Nazi concentration camps. As part of her new life in the United States, Sophie falls in love with Nathan (Kevin Kline), an American Jew. The relationship is abusive at times and great at other times, but through the good and the bad, Sophie sees Nathan as her reason to live. The movie is told via a narrative by the older self of the character Stingo, a writer who decides to take up residence in the same house where Sophie and Nathan live. Soon enough, Stingo befriends the couple and starts to fall for Sophie as she starts telling him her life in flashbacks.

Sophie’s flashbacks are the most interesting part of the movie. They reveal the intricate details that have made Sophie who she is in the movie’s present time. They reveal her darkest secrets, the truths she chose to keep hidden, and most importantly, the gut-wrenching choice she was forced to make, one that will shake you to your core.

To say Meryl Streep was great in it would be an understatement. Meryl Streep is an acting Goddess. There isn’t any role that she doesn’t nail to a point where further nailing cannot take place anymore. She works with the Polish accent perfectly and even throws in some German dialogue there for good measure. When Sophie gazes into the distance, looking at her past, the gaze goes right through your soul.

The movie, however, I felt was overstretched. It runs for over 150 minutes and sometimes drags on. I thought the focus on the relationship with Nathan became borderline obsessive sometimes. The flashbacks, which are the best part in my opinion, are interspersed throughout the movie and sometimes feel underdeveloped. I definitely wanted to see more of them. Moreover, you could easily consider the movie as a vehicle for Meryl Streep to shine. The other actors in it are simply accessories for her character’s weaknesses and strengths to get across.

Overall, Sophie’s Choice is a movie that solidifies what most of us already have in our head, that Meryl Streep is, simply, the best.