N for Nasrani

During a trip to Jordan in 2008, I visited the site where it is believed that Jesus Christ was baptized. As I headed to the banks of the Jordan River, a group of women solemnly made their way back from the pilgrimage. They were clearly Christian, given the particular headscarf they wore and prayers they whispered. They prayed in silence but with a passion and fervor that was hard not to notice. Continue reading “N for Nasrani”

Will he Stay or Will he Go?

Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai isn’t one to shy away from controversy. Even before becoming patriarch, he set the bar very high, once threatening anybody who criticized or slandered the church and its leadership with excommunication. With the recent announcement, and his own personal confirmation, that he would accompany Pope Francis during his upcoming visit to Jerusalem and the occupied Palestinian territories, Rai is back in the headlines. Continue reading “Will he Stay or Will he Go?”

Remembering the Armenian Genocide

“Go ahead, destroy Armenia. See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.”                                  – William Saroyan, Armenian-American dramatist and writer

April 24 is considered by Armenians worldwide as the day in which Ottoman authorities unleashed what would become the first genocide of the 20th century. 99 years later, Turkey refuses to recognize the genocide. While 99 year later, Armenians refuse to forget it. Continue reading “Remembering the Armenian Genocide”

Burying the Butcher, not Burying the Hatchet

In my part of the world, Ariel Sharon was known as the “Butcher of Beirut.” Even though his bloody legacy began to be built decades before he led the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 – through years of killing Palestinians in British-controlled Palestine prior to the Arab-Israeli War of 1948 – he will still be primarily remembered for the responsibility he bore for Beirut’s Sabra and Shatila Massacre in the Palestinian refugee camp of the same name. Continue reading “Burying the Butcher, not Burying the Hatchet”

Honoring Mandela

The best way to honor Nelson Mandela isn’t by sharing his words, but by believing in them and breathing life into them. Madiba’s words were loud but his deeds were louder, and this is what made the difference he was prepared to die for…[1]

It is always hard to see great people depart. Part of it has to do with the feeling that they will take something away with them, what made them sources of inspiration and models to emulate. This, despite the fact that what makes them great in the first place is that their impact has already transcended their grasp and can hardly stop its course even after they are gone. Continue reading “Honoring Mandela”

Thinking about Palestine

There is never a good or right time to talk about Palestine. A cause, a dream, a responsibility, a defeat, a crime and a badge of shame on the world, which has affected, been used and abused, and shaped a considerable part of the Middle East’s contemporary history. As the situation in the occupied territories continues to evolve, or rather deteriorate, and with it the chances of a viable peace, keeping Palestine in the public discourse almost seems like a constant necessity to keep the cause alive. Continue reading “Thinking about Palestine”

Human Rights Watch on the Children of Bahrain

We live in a world where violence has become common place, suffering a regular feeling we have learned to cope with and the dead just one more number. Or maybe this is the world that the Middle East and Arab World has taken to be its ‘daily bread,’ leaving little left to move us so deeply that it will impact us for the rest of our lives. Continue reading “Human Rights Watch on the Children of Bahrain”

A Strike Averted, Back to Business as Usual

Saying that this past week was a long week is an understatement. Syria and the Levant awaited the “imminent” but “limited” strike, barely able to imagine the immediate consequences on Syria and the wider repercussions on the region this attack would have had. The attack seems to have been averted, for the time being, with many feeling utterly disappointed and others terribly relieved. Continue reading “A Strike Averted, Back to Business as Usual”