On Youtube there is a fascinating film on co-existence in Haifa. It is well worth watching at this time of intense violence in Gaza.

At the Dead Sea

Some extraordinary photographs on {Life}Buzz

Here’s a guy who is following his love to the ends of the earth. Russian photographer Murad Osmann has been snapping photographs of his travels with his beautiful girlfriend Nataly Zakharova, leading the way since 2011. This series is called Follow Me To.

Murad said the first photo happened in Barcelona while they were away on vacation. Nataly was annoyed with him always taking photos of everything, so she grabbed his hand and pulled him forward. That’s when he took the first photo and the rest is history.

Their stunning pictures have earned them over million followers on Instagram.

Given all the unhappiness, it is refreshing to find a little happiness in the Middle East, even if it is musical. Enjoy the following:

Happy in Yemen (

Happy in Abu Dhabi (

Happy in Algeria (

Happy in Egypt (

Happy In Kuwait (

Happy in Jerusalem (

Happy in Jordan (

Happy in Lebanon (

Happy from Morocco (

Happy in Qatar (

Happy from Saudi Arabia (

Happy in Turkey (

Arab Settlement Of Kakun, in the Sharon valley, with carriage of European visitors, 1911

Many tourists flocked to the Holy Land in the 19th and early 20th centuries, not to mention the people who lived there. Quite a few took along cameras. There is a major archive of photographs of late Ottoman and Mandate Palestine here. The photographs are separated by area. It is well worth a look.

Bedouin camp in Jericho, 1893


Top of page from 1347 CE copy of Miftah al-‘ulum of al-Sakaki in the al-Aqsa Mosque Library

The British Museum is sponsoring a project to digitalize Arabic manuscripts in the al-Aqsa Mosque library of Jerusalem. Details below and at their website:

EAP521: Digitisation of manuscripts at the Al-aqsa Mosque Library, East Jerusalem

The main goal of this project is to preserve the historical manuscript collection housed at the Al-aqsa Mosque Library in Jerusalem. The Al-aqsa Library located at the heart of the Old City of Jerusalem serves as a primary research center for Islamic studies and as a reference library for scholars and students from Jerusalem and other Palestinian cities. The library’s rare and most valuable collection consists of approximately 2000 manuscripts. The manuscripts were acquired by the Al-aqsa Library from prominent scholars, private collections, and from libraries in Palestine that have ceased to exist. The materials selected for this project represent 119 manuscript titles in the most immediate need of preservation.

EAP521/1: Al-Aqsa Mosque Library Collection of Historical Manuscripts [12th century-19th century]

“This manuscript collection contains 119 Arabic language titles that span over several Islamic periods from the 9th century CE to the end of the Ottoman rule in Palestine at the beginning of the 20th century. Most of the manuscripts relate to aspects of the Islamic religion, but also cover Arabic literature, the Arabic language, logic, math and Sufism and provide a unique insight into centuries of Arabic culture in Palestine. The numbers of pages of original material represent double pages, often librarians of islamic manuscripts use one number for every two pages. ”

Digitisation is planned primarily as a means of preservation in order to create high-quality archival digital copies of the original source materials that are at risk of deterioration. Environmental factors, wear and tear of manuscripts due to poor storage conditions, the lack of security at the library, and the unstable political situation in Jerusalem contribute to the sense of urgency and make digitisation of these unique manuscript materials a top priority. (more…)

Austerity and sequestration are the dismal economic buzzwords of the day. While thousands of airline passengers in the United States waited for late flights due to a lack of air traffic controllers, and while tens of thousands of Israelis protested the latest cutbacks, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel had his own solution. He flew to the funeral of Margaret Thatcher last month in a specially fitted plane. There are obvious perks to being a leader, especially a sleepy one. So why not rent a retrofitted El Al superliner to take 75 guests to London for a mere $427,000 from the national treasury. It was not the latest in security secrets that upped the price, but rather a newly installed rest cabin in which a $127,000 bed was installed for his wife and himself for a five hour trip. I am not sure if Bibi has ever watched the Lialda ad that warns a man to consult his physician if he experiences an erection lasting over four hours. No doubt some Israelis feel as though Israel has suffered enough from electoral dysfunction throughout his tenure.

Sleeping With the Enemy? Review of “”Would You Have Sex With an Arab?

By Clara Abdulaziz,, April, 19

“One in five Israelis is an Arab, but it is difficult to find places where they touch fingertips.”

In her latest feature-length documentary, French filmmaker Yolande Zauberman ventures out into the nightlife of Tel Aviv and asks the people she meets a deceptively simple question: “Would you have sex with an Arab?” It is clear that sex serves merely as a proxy to grapple with a much larger question: can individuals transcend identities rooted in long histories of conflict, or is identity so rigidly constructed that it in fact defines one’s humanity?

Zauberman has said that she produced the film to “give space for awareness.” It is meant to be “a little bit sexy, a little bit funny.”

It is also, quite frankly, pretty depressing.

Zauberman’s choice of Tel Aviv for her film was not arbitrary. It is famous for its non-stop club scene, and is one of the most LGBT and queer-friendly cities in the world. She shows that even here, where most young residents seem more concerned with partying than religion and politics, the boundaries of Jewish and Arab identity remain stubbornly situated within the larger Arab-Israeli conflict. (more…)

BY Karim Sadjapour, Foreign Policy, June 15, 2011

How a couple of cows explain a changing region: equal opportunity offender edition.

In the early years of the Cold War, in an effort to simplify — and parody — various political ideologies and philosophies, irreverent wits, in the spirit of George Orwell, went back to the farm. No one really knows how the two-cow joke known as “Parable of the Isms” came about, but most students of Political Science 101 have likely come across some variation of the following definitions:

Socialism: You have two cows. The government takes one of them and gives it to your neighbor.

Communism: You have two cows. The government takes them both and provides you with milk.

Nazism: You have two cows. The government shoots you and takes the cows.

Capitalism: You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull.

Over the years, the parables gradually expanded, using the two-cow joke to explain everything from French unions (You have two cows. You go on strike because you want three cows.) to the Republican Party (You have two cows. Your neighbor has none. So what?). While in its original iteration the cows were a metaphor for currency, capital, and property, they later began to take on different meanings.

Today, the Middle East has replaced the Cold War as America’s primary foreign-policy preoccupation. As opposed to the seemingly ideologically homogenous communist bloc, however, the 22 diverse countries that compose the modern Middle East are still confusing to most Americans. Why can’t the Israeli and Palestinians stop fighting already? What’s the difference between Libya and Lebanon again?

Herewith then is a satirical effort to simplify the essence of Middle Eastern governments so that, in the immortal words of George W. Bush, “the boys in Lubbock” can read it. And, rather than symbolizing property, the cows here symbolize people, which — funny enough — is how most Middle Eastern regimes have traditionally viewed their populations.

Saudi Arabia
You have two cows with endless reserves of milk. Gorge them with grass, prevent them from interacting with bulls, and import South Asians to milk them.

You have two cows. You interrogate them until they concede they are Zionist agents. You send their milk to southern Lebanon and Gaza, or render it into highly enriched cream. International sanctions prevent your milk from being bought on the open market.

You have five cows, one of whom is an Alawite. Feed the Alawite cow well; beat the non-Alawite cows. Use the milk to finance your wife’s shopping sprees in London.

You have two cows. Syria claims ownership over them. You take them abroad and start successful cattle farms in Africa, Australia, and Latin America. You send the proceeds back home so your relatives can afford cosmetic surgery and Mercedes-Benzes.

You have no cows. During breaks from milking on the teat of the Iranian cow you call for Israel’s annihilation. (more…)

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