Ahed’s Knee, Stepping Out of the Story

I watched Ahed’s Knee, an Israeli film by Nadav Lapid, a very advanced director whose stories fragment and detour in shocking ways.

Ahed AlTamimi is a teenage Palestinian activist. She was born in 1997 in the village of Nabi Saleh, which is located in the occupied West Bank. Her family has been involved in resistance against the Israeli occupation for years and she has been participating since she was a little girl.

In December 2017, Ahed slapped an Israeli soldier who was guarding her house. The incident went viral on social media and led to Ahed being arrested by Israeli authorities and put into prison for eight months.

An Israeli member of Parliament suggested she be shot in the knee. The film starts focused on producing a show about Ahed’s Knee and then becomes more about the director’s journey and censorship in showing his film.

The film starts focused on producing a show about Ahed’s knee, but quickly evolves into an exploration of the decay of Israeli society and the rise of censorship as a way to protect such a decaying society.

Numerous dance scenes show the randomness of cultural production and arbitrariness of censorship. It is also a surreal representation of the different facets of Israeli society. The director here is making serious subjects not serious by using dance to represent them.

The camera is hijacked later by a monologue that I saw as a way for the director to speak to the government and through it to the Israeli people.

The film disintegrates and questions the concept of negative aggrievement, toxic tensions, oppressive systems, irrational censorship, and through the desert settings, the emptiness at the end of this whole project called Israel.

5 Articles and Quotes Against Emails

Email, when invented, was a major change in the way we communicate. Today, and pushed by the Corona Virus Pandemic, email has become a major part of the information industy, which accounts for 1/3 of all US workers.

Many articles are being written today against the way we use email today. I will list 5 in this article and some of the important points they present:

Continue reading “5 Articles and Quotes Against Emails”

Today We Stand For Free Thinking

Adam Lee once said: “Not only is there nothing to be gained by believing an untruth, but there is everything to lose when we sacrifice the indispensable tool of reason on the altar of superstition.”
Free Thinking is all about freedom in searching for truth, and a better life.
It is freedom from all negative and illusive thoughts acquired from society or by inheritance, that stands against our progress.
It is freedom to cherish the beautiful and wise from our heritage and culture and reject that which is harmful or sublime.
For Freethinkers, for a notion to be considered true, it must be testable, verifiable, and logical. Freethinkers reject conformity for the sake of conformity. Freethinkers stand in defiance to the power of the mass belief to indoctrinate faith rather than solicit the mind through reason.
The struggle between logic, reason, and empiricism against authority, tradition, and dogma is as old as humanity itself. Throughout history, “forming your own ideas and opinions rather than accepting those of other people without sufficient evidence” was not a popular idea in totalitarian societies. You can not subjugate humanity to slavery,inequality, and oppression of minorities & women if you allow free thinking.
AlNadwa is formed to embrace and promote free thinking in our communities. Its vision is building a freethinking community that promotes creativity, critical thinking, culture, and arts, embraces science and reason, and celebrates diversity. We believe in the Separation between Religion and State, and defend the Universal Declaration for Human Rights.
So today,
We stand with reason, with progress,
For all the libraries and books that were burnt,
For all the scientists, writers, and artists of the world, and especially of the Arab World that were threatened, isolated, excommunicated, imprisoned, tortured, or killed because of their free-thinking or free expression,
For Ibn Seena, Ibn Rushd, Abu Alalaa Alma’ary,
For Yakoub bin Isshak Alkindy, Nusair Aldeen Altousi, Jaber bin Hayan, Abdullah bin Almukafa’ who was crucified and grilled in front of people for his thoughts,
For every religious or secular thinker who was persecuted because of his or her free-thought,
For Farag Foda and Mahdi Amel
For Ali Alwardy and Ali Shariati
For Najeeb Mahfooz, the only arab who won a nobel prize for literature ever, who was stabbed in the neck for blasphemy.
For Fadwa Tuqan, Manal Al Sharif, Loujain Al-Hathoul, Nawal Alsaadawi, and Yasman Aryani
For all the prisoners of conscience everywhere,
For all those deprived from the basic right of self determination and all those suffering under apartheid and enduring humanitarian crises.
For the symbol of endurance and resistance in the world, Palestine.
For them, and for the future of our children and the future of the world, that is swarmed with challenges of dogma denying science, and greed denying equality, and tribalism denying unity,
..we present you with the Free Thinking Society to continue carrying the torch of freethinking and the freedom of the mind and the freedom of human expression forward …
Thank you for your support! Please join us!

مقدمة لجمعية الفكر الحر
قال آدم لي ذات مرة: “ليس فقط لا يوجد شيء نكسبه من خلال تصديق كذب ، ولكن هناك المثير الذي نخسره عندما نضحي بأداة العقل التي لا غنى عنها على مذبحة الخرافات”.
التفكير الحر ما هو الا الحرية المطلقة في البحث عن الحقيقة والحياة الأفضل.
إن التحرر من جميع الأفكار السلبية والمضللة المكتسبة من المجتمع أو عن طريق الميراث ، و التي تقف ضد تقدمنا.
إنها حرية أن نعتز بالجمال والحكمة من تراثنا وثقافتنا ونرفض ما هو ضار أو مؤذي.
بالنسبة لصاحب الفكر الحر، لكي تعتبر الفكرة صحيحة ، يجب أن تكون قابلة للاختبار وقابلة للتحقق ومنطقية. اصحاب الفكر الحر يرفضون الشمولية من أجل الشمولية. يقف اصحاب الفكر الحر في تحد لقوة الإيمان الجماهيري لتلقين الإيمان بدلاً من التماس العقل من خلال المنطقية و الوعي.
الصراع بين المنطق والعقل والتجريبية ضد السلطة والتقاليد والعقيدة قديم قدم الإنسانية نفسها. عبر التاريخ ، “لم تكن فكرة تكوين الأفكار والآراء الخاصة بك بدلاً من قبول أفكار الآخرين دون أدلة كافية” فكرة شائعة في المجتمعات الشمولية. لا يمكنك إخضاع الإنسانية للرق ، وعدم المساواة ، وقمع الأقليات والنساء إذا سمحت بالتفكير الحر.
تم تشكيل الندوة لاحتضان وتعزيز الفكر الحر في مجتمعاتنا. تتمثل رؤيتها في بناء مجتمع فكر حر، يعزز الإبداع والتفكير النقدي والثقافة والفنون ، ويحتضن العلم والعقل ، ويحتفل بالتنوع. نؤمن بالفصل بين الدين والدولة ، والدفاع عن الإعلان العالمي لحقوق الإنسان.
اذاً اليوم،
نحن نقف مع العقل ، مع التقدم ،
لجميع المكتبات والكتب التي أحرقت ،
نقف لجميع العلماء والكتاب والفنانين في العالم ، وخاصة العالم العربي الذين تعرضوا للتهديد أو العزلة أو الطرد أو السجن أو التعذيب أو القتل بسبب تفكيرهم الحر أو تعبيرهم الحر ،
لابن سينا ، ابن رشد ، أبو العلاء المعاري ،
نقف ليعقوب بن إسحاق الكندي ، نصير الدين الطوسي ، جابر بن حيان ، عبد الله بن المقفع ، الذي صلب و شوي أمام الناس لأفكاره ،
لكل مفكر ديني أو علماني تعرض للاضطهاد بسبب تفكيره الحر ،
لفرج فودة ومهدي عامل،
لعلي الوردي وعلي شريعتي،
نقف لنجيب محفوظ ، العربي الوحيد الذي فاز بجائزة نوبل للآداب على الإطلاق ، والذي تعرض للطعن في الرقبة بسبب تهمة التجديف.
نقف لفدوى طوقان ، لمنال الشريف ، للجين الحذول ، لنوال السعداوي ، لياسمان العرياني،
لجميع سجناء الرأي في كل مكان ،
لجميع المحرومين من الحق الأساسي في تقرير المصير وجميع الذين يعانون من الفصل العنصري والأزمات الإنسانية المستمرة.
لرمز التحمل والمقاومة في العالم ، فلسطين.
نقف لهم جميعاً و لأمثالهم ، ونقف لمستقبل أبنائنا ومستقبل العالم ، الذي هو مليء بالتحديات المتمثلة في العقيدة العمياء متنكرة للعلم، و الطمع المتنكّر للمساواة ، والقبلية المتنكّرة للوحدة الانسانية،
.. نقدم لكم جمعية الفكر الحر لمواصلة حمل شعلة الفكر الحر وحرية العقل وحرية التعبير الإنساني إلى الأمام …
شكرا لدعمكم! ارجو أن تنضموا الينا!

Memoir Part 10: Lebanese Summer Vacations

My relationship to Lebanon is the relationship of a son to a war torn mother who has, under the heavy struggles of war, forgotten that her son even exists, but when he shows up, she hugs him unaware, with empty attention, while gazing to the fires and bombs in the horizon.

I was born a year after the country’s civil war has started, and grew up to the loud broadcasting of the news over the square TV with the distorted pictures of blood and destruction and very serious newscast sound. We received the newspaper daily to the house, and the big headlines were always negative news from Lebanon or Palestine.

There was always war. The modern history of Lebanon is a sequence of small battles and wars among everyone. The number of battles is almost equal to the number of possible combinations between all factions. Yet, we visited Lebanon almost every year in the summer.

My father is from Sour, called in English Tyre. Sour is a peninsula on the Mediterranean. Sun rises from the sea to greet the sailing fishermen every morning, and sets in the sea from the other side flickering its golden rays on the big arch of the ruins of its fort and old roman city, and greeting its farmers returning home after a hard day of work. Sour is a magical city, with kind people, and educated, smart, and religiously diverse inhabitants. Sour was mentioned in the bible 12 times, and is one of the oldest cities in history.

My mother is from Bintjbail, a city in the Mountains of Amel in South Lebanon, 300 meters above ground, embedded in the beautiful valleys of olive, fig, and almond trees, and orchards of grapes and tobacco.

When we went to Lebanon in the summer, it was only 2 hours away from Abu Dhabi airport. Dubai airport did not exist at that time, and when it was found, it wasn’t that popular yet. There was one airport in UAE, which was Abu Dhabi. I still remember the smell of humidity, sea salt, and the sweat of my father mixed with the finest French colognes. When we get to Lebanon, it was always hectic. The beeping, the chaos, the worry, the fear, the warmth, the multiple military presence, and the complication of everything, mixed with the complications of people.

Depends what year we visit, there would be different portraits in the airport, celebrating different personalities, and there would be a different uniform dressed forces. Also, it will make a difference in the number of check points, and their kind.

From the Syrian army, to the Syrian secret service, to the Lebanese Army, to Hezbollah, to Amal Party, to Alansar (who are fans of Jamal Abdulnasser), or Palestinians, to Lebanon Southern Army (the traitors), to the Israeli army. That is if you are going south. If you are going north, or up to the mountains, or down to Baalbak and the valley, there will be a different sequence of militias and armies, in a country that you can cross from North to South in about 4 hours if unobstructed.

I remember in one of the trips, we had to stop by 17 check points in a trip that is supposed to be 45 minutes from the airport to Sour. Every checkpoint has its own inclinations and questions. Some were on “our side”, others we were weary about their questions. Some needed a bribe, and others needed to search the bags.

At the end we settled with my family. My paternal grand mother was always the warm chest that received us. Charafeddines are very emotional family, and the amount of emotions shown to us in reception was over whelming.

To be continued …

Thought of Today 8-19-2018

“The only thing we can try to do is to influence the direction scientists are taking. But since we might soon be able to engineer our desires too, the real question facing us is not ‘what do we want to become?’, But ‘what do we want to want?’ And those who are not spooked by this question probably haven’t given it enough thought.”

Yuval Harari