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.

A Blast From The Distant Lebanese Past

We have locusts! At least that’s what news agencies are saying because I haven’t seen any nor do I want to see any.

For the first time in a long time Lebanon is being hit by “el jarad” being brought up our way from the Southern neighbor we love to hate. Cue in the theories of this being a zionist agenda.

And with that, memories of a not-as-distant past popped in my head again. In case you didn’t pick up on it yet, those memories are from 9th and 12th grade when we were taught the exact same history of our country, three years apart.

Locust Lebanon JaradAll we need to recreate a WWI scenario in 2013 is the following:

  1. Outbreaks of typhoid and malaria,
  2. The Turks invading Syria,
  3. Englishmen arriving to our shores,
  4. Locusts eradicating our crops,
  5. A third of the Lebanese population dying.

That’s a little difficult to do seeing as those pesky insects are invading areas which have more buildings than crops and Englishmen are busy drinking tea. Locusts are in for one major disappointment this time around.

But students who have their official exams this year are lucky. For the first time ever, the history they are being taught is, at least partially, witnessing some practical applications in our daily lives. Shame on any of them who doesn’t get 27/30 on their exams.

AUB President Responds to the Donna Shalala Honorary Degree Controversy

Remember when I told you about some AUB students causing a ruckus at this year’s Masters’ students graduation ceremony because “zionist Shalala” was being given an honorary degree?

Well, as an AUB alumnus, I received an email with the response of AUB president Peter Dorman on the whole issue and I thought it was such an interesting read that I’d share it with you all.

Dear Members of the AUB Community,

I would like to share with you a personal note, in view of several e-mails that have been circulating among the faculty and on the alumni listserv in the wake of the controversy surrounding the recent honorary degree ceremony at Commencement. In particular, I want to address the comments relating to this administration’s purported agenda related to Israel.

The first and paramount observation is that AUB has always respected and complied with the laws of Lebanon, and always will, particularly the laws prohibiting the normalization of any kind of relations with Israel.

Indeed, this position has come at a cost to some of our faculty members in recent years, particularly those who have had to give up significant funding or research partnerships because of the involvement of third-party partners who had ties to Israeli institutions.

Second, this administration at AUB has no normalization or Zionist agenda of any kind. Those who make that claim or imply it are simply wrong on the facts. But raising questions about AUB’s presumed Zionist leanings is a sensational charge that catches the eye, can spread quickly, and understandably raises deep alarm among Lebanese and others who have suffered from Israeli depredations.

The circulating messages entitled “Can AUB Find Only Those Complicit with Zionism to Honor?”–taken straight from the extremist coverage published by al-Akhbar newspaper‹is a rhetorical question that belies our history of honoring distinguished Arabs or friends of the Arab world such as Edward Said, Helen Thomas, and Hanan Ashrawi. In the last three years alone, the University has honored Walid Khalidi, Dourade Al Lahham, Eric Rouleau, Mary Robinson, Marcel Khalife, Owen Gingerich, Mostafa El-Sayed, Anthony Shadid, Wadad Kadi, and Munib Masri. Eight of these honorees were nominated by our own faculty.

Some have criticized the administration for awarding an honorary degree to individuals who do not adhere to the Palestine Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel campaign, an initiative intended to isolate Israel from such contacts. I defend the right of those who take such a position; it is a principled stance, and one that many feel passionate about. Yet institutional decisions cannot be subordinated to an absolute litmus test imposed by the demands of outside groups. Otherwise, to pick just one example, AUB could never have decided to honor Edward Said, who initiated an acclaimed cultural dialogue through his highly visible sponsorship of a Palestinian-Israeli youth orchestra.

I was born in Lebanon in the same year as the nakba; like so many of you, I have never lived in the world without the dreadful specter of Palestinian dispossession and an expanding Israeli settlement agenda, which are deeply immoral and ultimately, in my view, self-destructive.

As for AUB, our campus is a precious and protected space where differences of opinion do‹and must‹exist in a context of mutual respect.

Free speech is fundamentally a core value of AUB and a part of our long tradition of academic freedom. We will continue to honor it, for every voice in our community.

The Provost and I will be meeting this coming week with a delegation of faculty members, who wish to present their petition of disagreement. The Board of Trustees has also asked me to review the process of vetting candidates for honorary degrees. I know the faculty delegation speak for a good number of you reading this message; but I can assure you that we jointly have only the reputation and good name of our beloved institution at heart, alongside a profound commitment to AUB’s proud legacy, our home country, Lebanon, and the region we serve.
Peter Dorman


In very brief summary, he’s politely telling those protesting to suck it. And I couldn’t be happier.

Lara Fabian Cancels Lebanon’s Valentine Concerts

Following “requests” to ban Lara Fabian from coming to Lebanon because she sang in Israel, the Belgian-Italian singer has canceled her two concerts, originally scheduled for February 14th and 15th, and issued the following statement:

A vous mes Amis Libanais une lettre d’Amour…

A L’amour …
Seule source de paix et de réconciliation…
A L’amour …
Seule véritable intelligence, profonde et infinie…
A L’amour…
Seule arme contre son ennemie jurée la haine…

A nous qui vivons tous sous le même ciel,
Je nous souhaite l’amour…et toute la guérison qu’il procure…
A nous qui ne faisons qu’un, puisse l’amour nous donner la force d’ETRE TOUS HUMAINS
A nous qui souffrons, souvent battus d’avance par la bêtise et l’absurdité, puisse l’amour éclairer l’unique chemin sur lequel nous voyageons tous ensemble : la Vie.

Seule la musique peut gommer les différences et briser les barrières mentales, religieuses et culturelles…
Ceux qui créent cette différence sont une minorité de gens qui ont peur….
Ils vivent dans la haine,car ils n’ont pas été suffisamment aimés.

Je ne chanterai pas sous les menaces que l’on me fait…
Je ne marche pas avec la haine……
Je marche avec la tolérance, la générosité et la vérité.

Ceux qui n’ont pas compris ça et qui ne souhaitent pas ma venue dans votre beau pays où j’ai déjà eu la chance de venir chanter ne seront pas inquiétés…
Je ne viendrai pas perturber votre quiétude par ma présence physique,…
Mais sachez que je serai là à ma manière.

Un soir de St-Valentin, quelques chansons d’amour feront du bien au coeur et à l’âme.
Je donnerai un concert unique, crée pour l’occasion, ce sera mon geste pour la paix..
Il sera diffusé le soir où mon concert aurait dû avoir lieu à Beyrouth.

De cette façon Je continuerai sur le chemin qui est le mien, celui de l’être et de la lumière…
Puisse-t-elle éclairer ces consciences jusqu’au bout, afin d’apaiser leur peine et dissoudre leur haine…

En mon âme et conscience je sais que L’amour est immuable.
Et qu’il ne connait pas les restrictions du temps et de l’espace…
Je vous écris cette lettre d’amour, car même contrainte de le faire à distance, je chanterai pour VOUS, mes amis Libanais…


I won’t go into the litteral English translation but she goes on, in typical French manner, about the power of love. Most importantly, however, she says she won’t let her physical presence in Lebanon trouble the peace we have and that those who asked for her concerts to be canceled do not understand the message of love she was trying to get across. She will be having a concert, however, which will air on the days her concerts should have taken place.

So after all this brouhaha, I guess we can draw a few conclusions:

1) If Israelis watch a movie, then we CANNOT watch this movie.

2) If Israelis listen to a song, then we CANNOT have this song play on our airways.

3) If Israelis attend a concert, then we CANNOT have the artist who played at that concert come to Lebanon.

Apparently, for many, singing on an Israeli stadium has become equated with the artist in question chanting: “Death to Lebanon.”

Now let me ask the people of BDS to ponder on this. Is Israel the only country that did Lebanon wrong? Or is Israel the only non-Arab country that did Lebanon wrong, therefore, the only one we get angry about their transgressions? (This post might put things in perspective for you). I don’t see “activists” asking for artists (some of whom are Lebanese) who sang for the Assad regime or in Syria get asked not to sing in Lebanon. Or is the blood of the Lebanese who got killed by the Syrian regime much less “precious” than the blood of the most “honorable” of people?

Or is the fight for freedom in Lebanon become also subjective to where you come from, the country you fight and the cause you die for?

I’m not asking to ban artists who sang in Syria and for Syria to be able to hold concerts in Lebanon. Likewise, you have no right to ask for artists who sang in Israel (they didn’t even sing praise to their government, which is the entity killing Lebanese, Palestinians, etc…) not to hold concerts just because you believe it damages your pride and dignity and nationalism.

You can stand against an artist’s political views. If you don’t like Fabian’s, then simply don’t attend her concerts. If it had been against the law for an artist who sang in Israel to sing in Lebanon, the authorities would have been very clear regarding that. The fact that bands like Placebo and artists like David Guetta, Armin Van Buuren, etc… have already held concerts in Israel and Lebanon is enough testament to that.

But I guess if I speak more about the issue people will start to call me a blinded ignorant who cannot appreciate the struggles of the Lebanese who fought against Israel. Call me ignorant all you want but in my head attending a concert doesn’t lead to me killing Palestinians or Lebanese. The ticket price I would pay isn’t going to buy a warhead to attack the Palestinians or the Lebanese. And at this rate, if every time an artist wants to come to Lebanon, we’ll have so much drama associated with them, they will stop coming altogether.

And you know what, amid all the chaos, no one noticed the fact that the prices for tickets to her concerts were simply outrageous. With a range of $200-$500, most Lebanese wouldn’t have been able to afford such a ticket, making the concert for a very select crowd. I’m just saying.