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(August 3rd 2010)

Today, two Lebanese soldiers and Al-Akhbar correspondent Assaf Abu-Rahhal were killed by Israeli shelling of the town of 3adayse in southern Lebanon.

Growing up, my brother played with army soldiers, those plastic sacks full of little green men. There was strategy, there was Risk. I organized little colored squares on a board labelled “Prussia,” “Indochina” and “America.” I suppose that is the most frustrating thing about this whole mess, variously labeled “the Middle East conflict.” The US strategy seems to be no strategy at all. The point is not to win but to keep the world in a perpetual state of war, the better to serve as cover for the exploitation of labour and resources and to profit from cycles of violence by selling weapons to all sides.

I don’t want to live in a pen fenced off from the majority of the world’s people. To eat tiramisu while the Syrian workers building the latest luxury apartment building live in a tin shack on the side of the road.

Our government, no longer the balanced and proportional representative unit safeguarding the interests of all classes and races of people which we were taught in high-school civics classes, has become the greatest evil on earth. It is the Empire, the Roman Senate in its last days, the Orwellian Party. No matter how much we tried to stop the slide… We ignored the warnings (Naomi Klein), so here we are.

In related news, I have transferred from the Middle Eastern Studies department at AUB (CAMES), also known as the CIA Department to the Anthropology Department. Not that anthropology is without it’s own colonial history, but hopefully it will allow me to continue my inquiries into voice, speech and representation in cross-cultural spaces.

Carlos Slim at AUB

March 17, 2010

photo by Marwan Tahtah

Today we held a protest at the Olayan School of Business at AUB. We were protesting Carlos Slim Helou, a Lebanese/Mexican businessman. He was recently named the world’s richest man. Currently, over 1/2 of Mexico’s population lives in poverty, with as many as 1/3 living in extreme poverty. Since the signing of the North American Free Trade Movement (NAFTA) in 1994, these free-trade laws have decimated the local economy and left tens of thousands of Mexicans with no choice but to risk their lives crossing the border into the United States in hopes of a better future. Carlos Slim is also responsible for the renovation/destruction of Mexico City’s downtown area, a project with eerie similarities to the Solidere project in Beirut.

We want Carlos Slim and the AUB community to know that we are watching and bearing witness to the deep structural inequality, politically- motivated violence and electoral fraud committed by neo-liberal capitalists such as Carlos Slim. We object to AUB’s hosting of this man and the intended “lessons” he will teach our business students. We stand in solidarity with the people of Chiapas and the Zapatista army of liberation. Subcomandante Marcos is a poet and a philosopher extraordinaire, I salute his wisdom and his work. Perhaps the most extraordinary thing about the EZLN is their complete integration of women into the resistance movement at all levels and in all capacities from military commanders to emergency surgeons. This is something that previous revolutions like the FLN in Algeria failed to accomplish. Here are is a photo of our protest. More from ABC News here.

Here is a link to one of our other protests, the AUB Career Fair.