Thursday, May 31, 2007

An Open Letter to Egyptian Ex-pat Democrats

Rescue Egypt!

Mubarak's modus operandi is polarization: squeeze out the liberal democrats leaving a vacuum that only the Mubarak Gang or the Muslim Brotherhood can fill, thus forcing the West to support him as the "moderate" alternative, even as he stokes the fires of extremism and arms Egypt for external confrontation.

The solution: don't confront Mubarak, but go around him. Announce that you are actively seeking prominent Egyptians willing to join a National Rescue Committee to restore the Republic.

Your purpose is to create a shadow cabinet-in-waiting ready to peacefully assume power for a one-year period until internationally supervised elections can elect a new representative body. All laws, constitutional amendments, etc. passed after [fill in the date here] will be null and void and all political prisoners are to be released immediately. No government official outside Mubarak's inner circle is to lose their job if they switch their support to the Committee.

For Mubarak and his gang have exceeded both their legal limits by and their popular support by instituting their own constitutional amendments through a sham plebiscite. There just isn't any voice out there brave enough to take the reigns yet. When Mr. Wael Aboulmagd, Deputy chief of Mission to the U.S., specifically and entirely unprompted made sure to mention his connections with the Muslim Brotherhood to Nora Younis, he may have been trying to give a broad hint that they are ready to dump the Mubarak gang and switch allegiances; but if a democratic opposition movement like Kefiyah doesn't step forward soon, they will try to do their best and cut a deal with the Muslim Brotherhood.

As your movement draws support from Egyptians, both expatriate and at home, support for Mubarak will simply fall away. With the defection of the diplomatic community, the aid taps that support the Mubarak regime will be turned off. Lots of government employees won't be paid. The police and state security will be reluctant to obey orders and eventually switch allegiances. Mubarak & Co. will hand you the reigns of power because they will have no choice - nobody will be listening to them any more.

Does this sound fantastic? Try it and see! It's a lot better than the current approach of protests begging the regime for favors. You will have far more legitimacy with the people than Nasser's gang did when they overthrew King Farouk.

By this approach you will endear yourselves to the current enforcers of the Egyptian government, who may secretly hate the Mubarak regime yet fear disorder:

Above all, every policeman knows that though governments may change, the police remain.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


In the wake of the tragedy of the Virginia Tech shootings, a story of the death of one of the victims, Waleed Shaalan, popped up in The New York Times and was widely circulated in the major Arab and Muslim media outlets, namely that Waleed, like Librescu, died while trying to protect someone else.

I was suspicious of this story from the start. The only witness emphasized that his/her judgment was subjective and has remained anonymous by releasing the story through a compliant professor.

Rather than accuse rashly, I sought confirmation from the coroner's office, thinking that Waleed's autopsy results would at least confirm that he was shot twice, but several minutes apart. I received this note in response a few days ago:

OCME records are medical records pursuant to 2.1-342 (B) (3) of the Virginia Code and are not subject to disclosure. Records may be released to certain agents with proper authorizations (Virginia Code 32.1-127.1:02).

In other words, the autopsy results will remain the secret of investigators and Waleed Shaalan's family. There is no way to independently confirm this story.

When I posted my news and suspicions as a comment at, I received an angry response:
You are a disgusting excuse for a human being, you ought to [be] ashamed of yourself for tarring the memory of this man...I don't have to be a genius or self-declared "engineering student" to see a pattern in your narrow minded thinking. Your extremist blog(with endorsement links to pro-terrorism blogs) is further evidence of your irrational mindset.

Yes, it does make me feel a bit slimy to point this out. But wouldn't not doing so be worse?
BTWFMBGNOF, why do you keep altering my carefully qualified statements into something different? There are Muslim teachers out there who worry that they may be teaching their students contempt for others. Do I direct them to your posts on this site? Then what are they supposed to do? Leave Islam and teach their students Judaism, Christianity, or secular humanism instead?

One may justly ask, why is it important to question the manner of Waleed's passing? Yet, if somebody is inventing his deeds and attributing them to G-d and Islam, is that not blasphemy? Would Waleed have wanted to be an object of such? And if you aren't making it your duty to uncover the truth, choosing to promote this tale blindly instead, do you not also blaspheme?

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Syrian Winter

The able writer Mona Eltahawy muses about what happened to Syria? Was there not such promise when baby Assad took over?
In the old Syria (for which read: that of Hafez al-Assad), Bunni told me, he would have been bundled into a car in broad daylight and taken to a jail cell somewhere. But Syria was changing, Bunni said. It had opened up to the world through the internet, it had a younger president in the form of Assad’s son, Bashar, and Bunni said that his appearances on pan-Arab satellite television channels effectively provided him with cover to speak out.

Less than a year after I met him, Bunni was bundled into a car in broad daylight and thrown into a jail cell after he signed a petition calling for improved Lebanese-Syrian relations...

It's the old, "Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom!" campaign, again. That's the trick Mao pulled in China in the 1950s: Let everyone have their say, but keep (1) police powers, and (2) individual rights in State hands. Then, once all the real or potential dissidents have had their say, lock them up and clamp down again so everyone realizes they live under an unjust regime. Re-direct all aggressions of the populace to external enemies if possible, or invent internal enemies if not.

That's the best reason why the ENTIRE Syrian regime should go down the toilet: lock, stock, and barrel! Of course, the regime is probably more stable than most analysts believe. In my opinion, only mass people power coupled by internal revolt within two or more armed forces can do the trick - and even then, the populace will have to capture secret police records intact to make sure the guilty parties can't just regroup.

It will take courage and not a little foolishness to pull it off. Doubtless many young men will see it as hopeless and sign up for jihad somewhere, thinking it an easy ticket to heaven that they can't get otherwise. These deluded people don't realize that heavenly judgment is passed not just upon ones deeds, but on what one could have done but avoided.

Can there be any doubt that the struggle for freedom from fear and want, and freedom for speech and religion, is far more important than any struggle against "infidels" or "occupiers"?

Sunday, May 06, 2007


abusinan, I appreciate what you’re telling me: that all Arabs have to do is trash somebody’s reputation and then they can ignore whatever he or she was trying to communicate. Good moral repute comes first, a quality that must be judged by the recipient of the message, not the sender.

That reminds me of a story about Khrushchev’s speech to Communists denouncing Stalin in 1956. While listing Stalin’s terror campaigns against the Communist Party, somebody in the chamber yelled out, “And where were you when all this was going on, comrade?”

“WHO SAID THAT?” Khrushchev shot back. The entire hall fell silent.

“That’s where I was.” concluded Khrushchev.

Khrushchev, who was very active during the period of the deadly purges of the Ukraine in the thirties, was nonetheless instrumental in dismantling many of the worst elements of the Soviet terror state. I suppose, by your reasoning, if his audience had been Arabs rather than Russians Khrushchev would have been hounded into silence and out of power entirely.

In fact, since almost everyone in the Party shared in these crimes, they would feel obliged to cover things up and keep everything going pretty much as it was before. Which is exactly what Khrushchev’s successors did after booting him out of office. Political reform stagnated until Gorbachev - the first Soviet General Secretary who had not participated in murderous purges - came to power.

Can there ever be an Arab Khrushchev?

Saturday, May 05, 2007


...To give you an idea of why Averroës is so important, both Christian and Jewish philosophers built upon his work, which first involved commentaries on Aristotle, but grew into a doctrine that a proposition may be philosophically true but religiously or morally false, which he then applied nearly as universally as Aristotle's writings did. Hence his works were major advances in philosophy. A century later Western philosophers held Averroës and Aristotle in equal esteem.

However, in Islam the fate of Averroës works was tied into the decline of twelfth-century Islamic Civilization as a whole by Durant [The Age of Faith, Chapter XIV, VIII (1950)]:
In 1194 the Emir Abu Yusuf Yaqub al-Mansur, then at Seville, ordered the burning of all works by Averroës except a few on natural science; he forbade his subjects to study philosophy, and urged them to throw into a fire all books of philosophy wherever found. These instructions were eagerly carried out by the people, who resented attacks upon a faith that for most of them was the dearest solace of their harassed lives. About this time Ibn Habib was put to death for studying philosophy. After 1200 Islam shunned speculative thought. As political power declined in the Moslem world, it sought more and more the aid of the theologians and lawyers of orthodoxy. That aid was given, but in return for the suppression of independent thought. Even so, the aid did not suffice to save the state. In Spain the Christians advanced from city to city, until only Granada remained Moslem. In the East the Crusaders captured Jerusalem; and in 1258 the Mongols took and destroyed Baghdad.

The grammar text, then, must have been saved from al-Mansur's destruction order. Presumably, the Mauritanians could afford to do so because they were far away and honored learning and scholarship. Who knows what other treasures may be recovered in the near future, and their impact upon philosophies and relgions worldwide?

Thursday, May 03, 2007


"Solomon dear have you taken your meds today? If not, I probably have some I can share round. Please, let’s leave off the bible quoting and, as Corey noted, the bigoted language."
...One thing I do perceive is that some of those who studied halacha early in life absorb the ritual without truly follow Judaism’s precepts. A religious Jew who acts badly is known as a khillul ha-Shem. A religious Jew whose acts inspire admiration is referred to as a kiddush ha-Shem.

It’s all too easy, especially for those not very learned in Torah, to let the khillul ha-Shem get you down. This often results in hostility to Judaism in general and perhaps even self-loathing.

Don’t let the khillul ha-Shem get you down. There are plenty of kiddush ha-Shem out there.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

31¢ Scoop Night!

Tonight's flavors were Pistachio Almond and Oreo® Cookies 'n Cream. Yum!

This annual event, where each customer receives one junior-sized scoop of free or cheap ice cream at each Baskin-Robbins location visited during five hours in the evening, always draws big crowds. At one location the local rescue squad was in line directly in front of us. As tonight was dedicated to their fallen fellows, several people encouraged them to jump the line, and besides a call could arrive any moment and the team would have to depart without their dessert. But they refused all special favors and remained in line to the door. You can be sure I'll send them an extra donation this year!