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Monday, September 1, 2014

Keep “God” Out of Your Evil



This is not a column about religion. Nor does it aim to convince you of anything religious. Quite the contrary, this is purely about humans, their politics, evil, and how they dump it all -- for blame or justification -- on religion; or worse, on “God” -- theirs or somebody else’s.

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Can Assad Fight Himself? How Else Would He Fight Terror?



In our new world that lives and dies on social media, officials condemn and condone in 140 characters while everyone is certain of the relevance and soundness of their opinion, reason and logic have become alien concepts.

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Netanyahu: Symbol of A Defeated Leader



Benjamin Netanyahu is not a dove, nor does he seek to be seen as one. Peace with the Palestinians he does not seek or want. He wants security for Israel and if that means making peace with the Palestinians, so be it. But, in this case, he will make sure Palestinians are weakened enough that their presence or absence, are the same.

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Monday, August 4, 2014

Defining Our Struggles In Today’s Middle East



The Middle East has been a hotbed for conflicts and wars always attracting the news media; but it has never been faced with so many tragedies at once as it has since the beginning of Arab uprisings and things keep getting busier. Today there are many aggressors spewing their hatered and barbarism on unsuspecting or simply defenseless victims. Many of those offenders are old, others are new and some are the “friends” of yesterday or yesteryear.

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Moral Responsibility Towards Palestine



Palestinians have been struggling for a homeland for seven decades. This struggle has taken on many forms and has raged in several continents. Following a long armed struggle for the liberation of all of Palestine, it became apparent to all involved that peace is the only viable option with mutual acceptance by Palestinians and Israelis of each side’s right to exist and prosper.

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Palestine In Search of A Compass



I’m sick an tired of the pretenders who say, “Palestine is the compass,” and ignore the actual abuses the Palestinians have been enduring at the hands of occupiers, jailers and hostile hosts.

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Monday, July 14, 2014

In Gaza Only The Innocent Deserve Support



After every Israeli aggression against Gaza, and they have not stopped for decades, one thinks there is nothing left of Gaza or its people to endure another incursion. Israel has never been able to bring Gaza to its knees despite the military might it rains on the overpopulated strip which Israel with Egyptian support keeps under siege controlling who and what goes in and out.

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Monday, July 7, 2014

Waiting for A Global Movement of Change



What if instead of celebrating independence or national day, and instead of military parades and proud displays of national colors on hats, shirts, bathing suits and flip flops, we pause and reflect on whether we are actually where we need to be in this world and the best ways to preserve our freedom and wellbeing?

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Sunday, July 6, 2014

Tough as nails... and not in a good way

In any business that involves human interaction, you are bound to run into clients you deem “difficult.” In fact, difficult people are everywhere in every aspect of life, including in business. Although difficult clients are a reality every businessperson has to deal with, I find the term “difficult” to be overused and misused, even abused in some instances. Many people use it lightly without appreciation for the impact their opinion has and the weight it can carry where it can potentially unfairly damage or ruin someone’s reputation. When I hear that term used, I take it to mean: “I don’t like this person.” I tell myself not to pass judgment before I experience that person’s “difficulty”, if any, on my own.

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Monday, June 30, 2014

The Lessons We Learn From Simply Remembering



Forgetting is one of our survival mechanisms and, thankfully, it works most of the time when dealing with trauma or painful memories. However, forgetting history can yield unpleasant results; while constantly picking and choosing what to remember and what to forget is a disaster.

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Monday, June 23, 2014

When ISIS Steals The Headlines



Blame the media for the rise of ISIS and blame them for empowering an extremist Islamic group that has nothing to do with Islam and its teachings and has everything to do with anger, hate and lack of opportunities for a decent life.

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Monday, June 16, 2014

Obama’s Failed Middle East Policy



It’s painstakingly difficult to see things as they are sometimes. This one in particular is a hard pill to swallow. Let’s not dwell on what we thought could have been and what we hoped should have been and what we dreamed will have been. Reality is staring us in the face, as the Obama administration seems incapable of making a difference anywhere in the Middle East.

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Monday, June 9, 2014

Lebanon: Phoenix No More, But Wounded Albatross



Lebanon today resembles Baudelaire’s wounded albatross. Unable to spread his giant wings and soar in the vast free skies where he truly belongs, he is exiled on land, wounded, awkward and reduced to a nuisance by ignorant, evil men who shot him for entertainment and now are having fun ridiculing him and his injuries.

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Sunday, June 1, 2014

'Treponomics: Toeing The Thinnest Possible Line Between Right & Wrong

In an advertising-driven world where media organizations increasingly identify themselves as businesses first, the ethics line has become blurry in favor of the bottom line. Ethics are eroding fast and risk disappearing or becoming a remote memory in the minds of older generations. There was a time in history when media professionals spoke of a complete separation between “sales and editorial” in the same tone as the separation of “church and state”

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Monday, May 26, 2014

Lebanon: The Last of The Christian Presidents



The Maronite presidential seat in Lebanon was weakened tremendously and rendered almost honorary with the Taef Agreement of 1990 after many historic powers were stripped from it. It was at the time two Maronites that brought the Syrian-free Christian-controlled parts of Lebanon to its knees, ushered in a new era of Syrian domination and forced all parties into Taef to find a way to reconcile. But reconciliation came only with a serious re-writing of the constitution unfavorable to Christians.

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Monday, May 19, 2014

Lebanon’s “Nakba” Catastrophe



The Lebanese don’t like to be outdone, not in good times nor in catastrophes. No matter how hard they try, they always fall back on the same trouble, same strife, same calamity, same divisions, same politics and same leaders.

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Monday, May 5, 2014

The Age of Immoral Politics



You can write all you want, demonstrate all you can and shout as loud as possible; nothing will change. Simply because those you are trying to reach have already crossed the threshold of morality. They live in a zone where immoral politics reign supreme.

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Monday, April 28, 2014

Blank Ballot, No Quorum Mean No Viable Candidate


Additional Background Reading: Presidential Election: into the fray once more The Daily Star Lebanon

Lower your voices and stop spewing your hate around; the Lebanese presidential elections situation is clear: You have been trained to accept what Syria dictates and whom it imposes unconditionally, and you cannot change now. At the first democratic test, you failed to act like actual elected officials -- probably because you should have expired when your term did but instead you extended your mandate despite your own voters’ protests.

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Monday, April 14, 2014

What We Learned From War



The Lebanese landmark war of fifteen years (1975 - 1990) fed books and articles, inspired slogans and headlines and was the focus of world media. To this day, the Lebanese are recognized the world over primarily for their war, cuisine and successful immigrants. Beirut became a universal synonym for division.

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Presidential Elections Between Shameless and Shameful



It’s a presidential race in a country that cannot come together or agree on anything. From the minuscule and mundane to the gigantic touching on national security issues, politicians bicker along party lines, supporters cheer them blindly without questioning or criticizing or holding them accountable. Yet, they demand with the most severe tones full accountability, harshest judgments and absolutely no leniency towards their opponents regardless of whether they were actually guilty or not. Their crime is simply daring to be a foe.

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Monday, March 31, 2014

Syria: From Revolution to Chaos to Show and Tell!



How difficult it must be for Syria and the Syrians at this juncture.  It is hard not to feel depressed, desperate and unbelievably sorrowful at how the situation has escalated quickly and dramatically. How pitiful it is for a nation to become broken overnight, its people scattered, poor and hungry in tents waiting for donations, giveaways, or anyone who is willing to give attention to their plight.

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Monday, March 24, 2014

On Heroes and Mad Men



Not every act we define as heroic is in fact heroic. Subsequently, those we consider our heroes are sometimes nothing but rogue mad men. In fact, with a few exceptions of true heroes, most rebels are unstable individuals expressing their anger and sense of failure outward. Those are the ones who cause chaos and complicate situations rather than find solutions. You cannot expect peace to ever take hold as long as they are in control.

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Monday, March 17, 2014

How Everyone Failed Syria



Three years on, Syria is turned into ashes literally. Syrians scattered in heartbreaking ways incomprehensible by any logic or reasoning. The suffering and pain, totally unnecessary, unwarranted and certainly undeserved, are beyond imagination.

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Monday, March 10, 2014

The Middle East: A War of Words and Threats



A major power shift is taking place in the Middle East, this time it signals leaderships waking up to realities long overlooked and left to fester into insurmountable obstacles.

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Monday, March 3, 2014

New World Order: May the maddest man prevail?



What we are witnessing from Syria to Russia is not survival of the fittest, but rather prevalence of the maddest. How else would we describe nations bullying others in plain sight to force them into submission?

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Monday, February 24, 2014

We, The Women, Who Value Life!


Growing up in Lebanon, I always felt that some men and women assumed ownership over me, my body, my thought, even my feelings and my expression. I despised these people who existed everywhere, in families, government, school, and religious establishments. They were constantly clashing with other men and women who wanted me to thrive and to be “me” in all its possibilities.

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Monday, February 17, 2014

Makeshift Government To Avert The Worst



The only reason to celebrate the new government in Lebanon is that its formation could help avert a presidential election crisis and an ensuing vacuum. This is the simple reality despite the unwarranted shock and protest by many and the flowery acceptance speeches of ministers.

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Monday, February 10, 2014

Boycotts and Sanctions Towards Peace



US Secretary John Kerry is close to releasing a “framework agreement” for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Though it is only a “framework,” a beginning of a tedious road ahead, it will probably be the best US contribution to date to a conflict that has plagued a region for way too long and has caused only harm, death, destruction and anxiety to far too many. Particularly to generations of Palestinians living state-less and status-less, most of them in refugee camps across the Middle East, while their fate is decided.

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Monday, February 3, 2014

Conspiracy Against Syria



They invented Geneva I and II and the sequel will likely continue providing audiences with hours of wasteful entertainment while Syria bleeds and the Syrians die in the hundreds daily.

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Monday, January 27, 2014

Land of Cedars or Terrorism?



The Lebanese are loved the world over as a people, and loathed as groups, militias, and terrorists.  This fact is not easy to grapple with, but essential to dealing with our differences and moving on.

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Monday, January 20, 2014

This Is The Tower of Babel… Where The Worst Is Yet To Come!



In search of fresh and different news and views, we drown ourselves in a sea of opinion: Unfortunately, the loudest noise comes from celebrities of post Arab awakening and media experts who were sleeping soundly prior to November 2010. Having been awakened abruptly by the unexpected and having been reacting since playing catch up with the times is no excuse. In the public domain, these noise-making machines are in direct competition with various agendas: Some of them petty and opportunistic, others seasonal and therefore temporary, while a few more are extremely dangerous, even lethal. Not to mention the age-old agendas of bankrupt Arab tyrants incapable of reform, unable to share or relinquish power.

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Monday, January 6, 2014

A Difficult Year Just Began



A fresh bombing in Lebanon, a militant tied to another bombing died in jail, and a complex tall tale about the identity of a suspect in yet a third bombing is being fed to a numb public with a major case of terror fatigue.

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Monday, December 30, 2013

We Are All Going To Die



A targeted assassination took the life of another Lebanese thinker along with companions and bystanders, exposing once more the evil of those playing God, thinking they win with every voice they mute and every life they cut short.

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Monday, December 23, 2013

Is This Year Over Yet?



We have a little of bit of everything and all the drama lined up for a brand new end of the year. We’re invited to a wedding to close this year on a positive note and another wedding to welcome the New Year happily. To complete the circle of life, we have dreaded funerals ahead, as well as anticipated births. And that’s just what we know.

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Monday, December 16, 2013

No Hope Left to Celebrate Christmas



There was a time in my life when Christmas meant a lot more than a religious Holiday. As a child, I used to spend hours staring at the elaborate ornaments on my parents’ Christmas tree. I used to dream of belonging to a faraway land, pure, happy, and loving. A land where poverty is abolished by good-spirited humans and disease is eradicated by scientific advancement. I used to dream of a land where no one was poor or homeless or cold. Orphans were privileged in different ways; rich and poor were equal in their humanity. In my dream world -- the special Christmas version -- life was beautiful and wonderful.

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Monday, December 9, 2013

The Meaning of Freedom



My grandmother taught me lessons in love and compassion. My mother taught me tolerance and patience. I thrive to teach my daughters the meaning of freedom.

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Monday, December 2, 2013

Dubai.. All Due Respect!



Not long ago, Dubai was simply a vast desert with modest neighborhoods scattered among sand dunes as far as the eyes could see. It was cozy and modest, even boring for many of us who visited for business. Back then, no one visited for pleasure!

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Dear Iran.. Dear USA.. Welcome Back To Diplomacy!



There are times when measuring success does not necessarily involve using the terms “winners” and “losers.” This time is now and the opportunity is so rare that it cannot be wasted on pointing fingers or trying to score highs or lows.

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Monday, November 18, 2013

What Independence?



On the 70th anniversary of my homeland’s Independence, I wish I could tell my children tales about the heroes who brought this nation freedom and dignity. But a handful of those only exist in history books pre-dating my generation. As hard as I tried to see them as real figures, the noise of bombs was always louder and Lebanese warlords actions were stronger than any inspiration from the cold distant figures.

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Monday, November 4, 2013

Generations of Desperation



The voyage down memory lane began with sentimental photos from my grandparents’ deserted home shared on a social network. In addition to feeding vanity and narcissism, social networks have become meeting places to re-create bonds, villages and even nations when homelands seem far away or forever gone.

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Monday, October 28, 2013

In Syria Arabs Should Go It Alone



The Saudi rejection of the UN Security Council seat and its open criticism of the U.S. policy on Syria it considers inconsistent and uncaring, are surprising but necessary and urgent. A late response, weak in its timing and posturing, but significant nonetheless.

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Monday, October 21, 2013

Lebanese Drama With Turkish, Iranian and Syrian Tones



I’m not the one to make light of kidnapping or hostage-taking. As a matter of fact I condemn both as acts of violence regardless of whether groups use them as negotiating tools or practice them as a sport.

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Monday, October 14, 2013

Not Defending Nor Accusing Mansour Labaki.. The Jury Is Out!


Editor's Note:  Background: Priest serving child molestation sentence in Lebanon monastery - The Daily Star - Lebanon

His was the first Catholic sermon I could assimilate and the first communion I received. We learned his Christian hymns by heart as Jesuit nuns played them on portable turntables over and over in catechism class. I am one of thousands who grew up on the multifaceted teachings of a young man named Mansour Labaki.

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Monday, October 7, 2013

When Liberalism Becomes Advocacy of The Wrong Causes



An important lesson life has taught me is to revisit old practices when new situations arise. For professionals who strive for fairness, what is ‘ethical’ is not always as clear as a ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ Nuance, circumstance, context, and all sides of the story must be taken into consideration before one can decide which term to use in a given story. Examples of such words that conjure up strong controversial images are: ‘Terrorist’ ‘occupation’ ‘incursion’ ‘invasion’ ‘democracy’ ‘coup’ ‘uprising’ ‘Intifada’ ‘insurgent.’ What may sound like an easy qualification is -- and rightly so -- a topic of debate and consensus in a news organization or think tank especially non-affiliated ones. In controversial situations, sometimes it boils down to one word that defines the outlet’s stance.

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Monday, September 30, 2013

The Price of Peace



Peace never comes at a cheap price.. In the Middle East, one might argue that peace never comes at all despite the best efforts, dedication and sacrifices of many heroes.

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Monday, September 23, 2013

Islamic Fundamentalism: Worldwide Nightmare



Whether you feel affected by a spate of terrorist attacks against innocent civilians over the weekend in Kenya, Pakistan and Iraq in the name of Islam or not at all, welcome to the nightmare.

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Syria’s Weapons of Mass Destruction: Hide and Go Seek



Before Syria was turned into a nation of ghosts and nightmares and before millions of Syrians were dispersed into the unknown and before hundreds of thousands were brutally killed.. Not a very long time ago.. Only a short thirty one months ago, there was an honest nonviolent uprising in Syria; and there was a dictator speaking calmly to the media, pretending to believe in reform which goes like this: “1, 2, 3, 4...” and, “You cannot start with 6 and then go back to 1,” as he said to the Wall Street Journal a week before a few brave Syrians dared to stage the first protest against him and his regime.

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Monday, September 9, 2013

Syria: To Each Their Tyrant


Alarm bells ringing all over Syria and Bashar al-Assad is turning his deaf ear. Many tales, from mythology to historic facts and regional realities, remind us of the position Assad has cornered himself in. None of them hopeful for a man who spent three years pretending he is in control; not once pausing in sorrow or remorse over what has befell his pretend empire. Not once did he mourn the loss of life and the suffering of his own subjects without pointing the blame on “terrorism,” ignoring the fact that the buck stops with him as the supposedly supreme leader.

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Monday, September 2, 2013

Obama Has Spoken On Syria: Not What You Wanted To Hear?


The drama unfolded around Barack Obama’s speech as the world waited for the U.S.’s official position on intervening militarily in Syria. If you were not busy in the past week commenting on and analyzing the situation and you simply observed, you probably came to the same conclusion.

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Monday, August 26, 2013

Syria's Chemicals, America's Red Line and A Looming Intervention


Russia called it “hysteria” over chemical use but the United States calls it its “red line.” A military intervention should not come as a surprise to anyone; certainly not to Russia that had been called on repeatedly to help find an exit out of Syria’s impasse to no avail. The fact that the U.S., Britain -- and soon more NATO countries -- are stepping up their military and naval presence around Syria should be read as a last warning in a series of diplomatic messages and intervention warnings that went unanswered before.

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Monday, August 19, 2013

Military or Fundamentalism? Egypt Between A Rock and A Hard Place

Editor's Note:  If you believe that Muslim fundamentalism and its ensuing terrorism pose serious threats to the world, you will begin to have more answers about what is happening in Egypt than questions and frustrations.

Cairo, home of Islam’s most renowned mosque and authoritative university, Al-Azhar, is also home to the Muslim Brotherhood which gave the world the chief al-Qaeda man Ayman al-Zawahiri and his likes. The same Muslim Brotherhood that was outlawed because of its fundamentalist ideology, bloody history and murderous plots against any individual or entire people who didn’t fit its doctrine. That same Brotherhood came to power democratically last year (only because of years of organized underground activism and a sizeable number of followers who do exactly as they’re told).

We owe it to Egypt not to see things as only black and white, good and bad or life and death. What makes us unique is our diversity and the critical mind that makes us skeptics, able to doubt and reviewing our position, maybe even change our mind and accept that “the other” might be right while we're wrong in finding our way to the truth.

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The new Egypt did not repress the Brotherhood, quite the contrary, in the spirit of newfound freedom and inclusivity, Egypt embraced them and gave them a chance to prove how worthy they are of ruling a country and representing a nation as large, as diverse and as excited about its fresh revolution as Egypt was after toppling Hosni Mubarak.

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