Monday, February 20, 2012

My Letter to Philadelphia Inquirer RE Trudy Rubin's tribute to the talented Arab American reporter Anthony Shadid: Journalist's risks benefited us all

Anthony Shadid died Thursday while on assignment in Syria (Associated Press Photo)

RE: Trudy Rubin Worldview: Journalist's risks benefited us all

Dear Editor,

I very much appreciated Trudy Rubin's thoughtful tribute to the talented Arab American reporter Anthony Shadid who tragically died this past week of an asthma attack, in the prime of his life in the middle of a very admirable career. In particular I like how Ms Rubin presented the big picture of how important it is to have trustworthy, professional, competent and compassionate foreign correspondents on the ground so that American citizens (and U.S. officials) might better understand what really is going on.

Citizen journalists and freelancers can indeed help convey bits and pieces of important stories, but they simply do not have the breadth of experience or the professional expertise to do full justice to important stories. Some might eventually become respected reporters employed by mainstream American newspapers because they have proved their worth- their competence and integrity. However there are many amateurs and novices who either inadvertently or intentionally leave out important facts and trends, crafting their stories with more slant than solid ground. The internet is filled with titillating posts and forwards by such novices, but wiser readers know to be wary.

Mainstream American newspapers are not perfect, but they do have fact checkers, a sense of accountability, and the test of time on their side. Meritocracy tends to guide a mainstream American newspaper's choice of who to hire and who to promote. Sadly the same can not be said for many newspapers in the Middle East, where anti-America "experts" and slick apologists for Islamists tend to push potential future journalists (here and there) away from really seeing and more fully understanding the bigger picture.

Anne Selden Annab
American Homemaker & Poet

Arab American Institute's Omar Baddar: In Defense of Hamza Kashgari

On the anniversary of Prophet Muhammad’s birth, Saudi columnist Hamza Kashgari did something a bit unusual on Twitter: he said that the prophet was someone about whom he had likes and dislikes, and that if he ever met him, he would afford him no more respect than he would afford a friend and an equal. Will most devout people like Kashgari’s attitude? Of course not. But are his comments so bad as to cause a major uproar and calls for his head? Apparently, the unfortunate answer to that is “yes.”

The New York Times's new Jerusalem correspondent has faced criticism for sending tweets to 'the wrong people'.`

Attacks on the New York Times's new Jerusalem correspondent undermine the credibility of Israel's rightwing defenders

Why Aren’t More Arab Americans Working in Mainstream Journalism?

Following the Arab spring and with the partial opening of press systems in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere, it is possible that more Arab Americans will be encouraged to serve the public in journalism or politics, and I hope they do. America’s approach to world affairs would be better for it. For now, though, many Arabs don’t view journalism as one of the keys to a better life, and I can’t blame them.

At Ben Gurion, Learn to Fight the Fear

It is only when I venture outside of my comfortable Ramallah bubble that I comprehend how living under occupation affects a person. I feel my body getting tenser while driving inside the West Bank, or taking the bus to Jerusalem, which often gives me a headache.

Congressman Keith Ellison Discusses Defunding Palestinian Sesame Street

This Congress approved funding for Sesame Street in Palestine last year. But one member is holding up the money. That means there's no Elmo...Only Farfour teaching extremism. Uploaded by RepKeithEllison on Jan 24, 2012

Storm Over Hebron...

As you all know, I have been living and working in Hebron/Al Khalil as an Ecumenical Accompanier for the past three months. I find this to be an interesting article and good analysis of the ancient religious history and applaud their efforts for acknowledging that the children on both sides need to learn about the other. However, I have to point out some discrepancies regarding the facts and information that is missing from this article.

Hamas & The Arab Spring

Hussein Ibish: "Whether the agreement with Abbas is implemented or not, Hamas will only go as far as it absolutely must to adjust to new realities. But relying on states like Qatar, Egypt and Jordan will necessitate very different behavior than being a client of Syria and Iran. And Hamas leaders counting on the Arab Spring turning into an “Islamic Awakening” that fulfills their ideological fantasies are spending more time reading coffee grounds than the emerging regional order." Hamas of contradictions


PEEKS... The cool new Palestinians: geeks... The West Bank and Gaza Strip is home to hundreds of tech companies,

"It doesn't matter where you are and what you do, you can go anywhere on the Internet – the opposite of what's here in Palestine, with checkpoints and [the] political situation and everything." Rasha Rasem Hussein, a computer systems engineering student in her last year at Birzeit University in Ramallah.

There can be a path to true peace in the Middle East by Jordan's Prince El Hassan bin Talal

If we wish to change the enmity in our region to friendship, or at least to recognition of shared interests, equal sovereignty and a shared humanity, we need a new vision, a new concept. For the displaced, for the internally displaced, for the stateless, for the refugees, is it not time, whether our color is black, white or brown, that we started to look at our joint future? It is my firm belief that a most solid cornerstone for peace in our region could be built around the three baskets of the Helsinki process — economy, security and human dignity

House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East by Anthony Shadid

“House of Stone takes the reader to the heart of the Middle East and all its conflicts: the core question of what gives people a sense of who they are and what they are. In this deeply personal but deeply relevant memoir, he looks at the way family, place, history and faith work their way into a people’s blood, determining not only how they look at their past, but how they go about trying to build a future.” – Christopher Dickey, Middle East Bureau Chief, Newsweek

Over 40 years after his first exhibition, artist Mahmoud Taha’s work continues to be driven and inspired by the Palestinian people’s quest for freedom

The Year of Reading Dangerously ...Charter for Compassion calls for stories


"Religious conservatism invariably focuses on social and sexual control. Women are the most immediate targets and primary focus of the authoritarianism of the religious right, wherever they may be. As Islamists seem to be finally getting their chance at gaining a share of power in the Arab world, the greatest and most immediate danger they pose is to women’s rights. That is why it is up to everyone else, including both secularists and religious moderates, to insist on the introduction of inviolable constitutional principles protecting the rights of individuals, women and minorities." Hussein Ibish: Islamism and misogyny

"Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home - so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world." Eleanor Roosevelt

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