Kanye West is about to start a free concert at Yerevan’s Swan Lake


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Analyzing Political Undertones in Pop Culture Through Art


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There is generally speaking a list of artistic works that, despite their aesthetic greatness, are either historically misrepresentative & inaccurate or merely biased in context and coverage.

Some do justice, some don’t. Perception all depends on which angle you look at the subject. I wish for justice for all, but we must recognize, expose & bring to justice those distinct forces which cause & instigate violent political crime.

Munich, Waltz with Bashir, & Exodus, viewed as biased & racist. Black & Arab culture, disenfranchised, used, exploited, hung & dried.

A more accurate depiction of reality in the Middle East in Palestinian film Paradise Now.

Another, more realistic representation of the ME in a scene from Syriana, which features George Clooney & Matt Damon.

How Hollywood & all of western media distorts reality through film & other mediums of mass mainstream expression.

This rather, light film depicts the similarities, and differences, between the Arab & Israeli people. But recognition of Israel implies two things: treachery to the Arab cause; abandoning the human rights of the Palestinian nation.

Is it unfair for the international community to suggest that the Jews are fine without a state called Israel? The difference between the need for an Armenian state, for example, versus a Jewish one, is that the former is completely ethnic-based while the latter is a hybrid of religion, culture and language. This makes it difficult to place importance on the need for a Jewish state while ignoring Palestinian self-determination.

Individuals like Helen Thomas get blacklisted for making comments such as those in the video below:

If there is a moral arc of the universe, it bends in favor of the Westerner & the lighter-skinned.

A Request for President Obama & the Democrats


Obama Says No Negotiations Until Debt Ceiling, Funding Settled

Recognize the Armenian Genocide. Grant amnesty to refugees. International repercussions, implications and issues of national boundary.

Recognize the Palestinian Genocide & end the occupation. Grant right of return. Allow Jews to remain. Encourage initiative to fight anti-semitism globally.

Relinquish ties with State of Israel.

Relinquish ties with Saudi Arabia.

Rehabilitate relationship with Iran. Establish fair oil agreement as alternative to Gulf oil. Weaken monarchism & fundamentalism in the region thereby ushering in necessary reform/change to status quo.

Expose the forces of the right-wing ideologues in all countries, as hypocritical exclusivists, war-mongers & fascists with ties to terrorism & corruption in religious institutions.

Issue significantly high tax on 1%; pump credit into lower and middle classes to create opportunities for self-investment. A limit, thereby granting opportunity and preventing abuse. The propaganda against mixed economics is extreme and irrational. I would argue that the conservative agenda, which is to horde resources, is actually politically communist, if measured along the lines of ‘control’ by the state.

Grant all American minorities, especially African-Americans, re-enfranchisement into the socio-economic scene through affirmative action. Stretch this form of amnesty to other minorities, including Latino-Americans, Armenian-Americans, etc — the voices that are disenfranchised from representation and accessibility to sustenance.

Grant amnesty and normalization of status for all immigrants in the US.

Review all criminal cases which have falsely incarcerated or have exaggerated sentences for criminals, especially minorities, which have been profiled, type-casted, and have been victims of racism, police brutality and government abuse.

Reform the justice and security enforcement systems of the US, beginning by addressing a lack of representation based on racial affiliation.

Pass laws which prohibit the broadcasting of overtly incorrect material which slanders various entities and incites violent hatred. This includes Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, etc, all who have profited off racism, hate and the encouragement of religious fascism.

Legalize marijuana. Completely. Government regulations are encouraged, as long as it does not disturb market and free-flow.

Reestablish the legitimacy of the United Nations by reaffirming its authority on global affairs. This requires rehabilitation of relationship with China, Russia, India, Iran, Brazil & South America.

Encourage mixed-economics in foreign countries that guarantee individual rights without compromising cultural values and traditions.

End apartheid globally.

Expose ties between Republican Party and foreign criminals; terrorists; dictators. End funneling of money to criminal entities.

All of these actions, manifested into legislation, would immensely improve America’s status domestically and internationally.

The Deer Hunter Russian Roulette Scene


One of my favorite scenes from the movie. The Vietnam War, a contentious issue of debate, remains a stain on US history. Despite being portrayed as a containment of communism, the US invasion proved not only disastrous, but to carry its own agenda, the suppression of national sovereignty.

This same phenomenon occurred in Afghanistan, when the US funded the mujahadin of Afghanistan to combat communism. The premise of containing communism was quickly overshadowed by a new specter of foreign oppression, western capitalism.

Remembering Anthony Shadid (1968-2012)


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On September 1st, 2011, late journalist & NYT foreign correspondent Anthony Shadid came to speak to UCF students about his recent escapades in the Middle East, namely his most recent experiences in Libya, where Shadid recalled being taken hostage with two other associates for three days.

I am grateful to say I had the opportunity to sit in on his speech. I was even able to meet with Shadid shortly after his speech during which I introduced myself. He was quick to smile with news that I am Syrian. I purchased his most recent book, Night Draws Near, in which he left me a little note, perhaps a little naive in hindsight, or just rashly hopeful as all Arabs tend to be. “See you in Damascus,” he uttered.

Anthony Shadid reminded me what it means to be an Arab, aside from the ordinary customs, our cuisine, language music and traditions. Anthony Shadid reminded me that at the heart of being Arab is the nature of resilience; our ability to laugh and chuckle even amidst the darkest of chaos. I vaguely remember a story told to me by close friend of mine, a Palestinian political activist from Ramallah, Tami Rafidi. Rafidi, whose husband was taken captive by Israeli forces never to be returned, embodied this resilience. Despite her frustrations; anger & suffering, Rafidi recalled memories of running wildly along the rugged Palestinian terrain dodging Israel fire while laughing, telling jokes & drinking the famous Arab liquor – ‘arak’.

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In 2006, when Israel began bombing Hezbollah sites in Lebanon, the Lebanese people were seeking refuge by day; clubbing relentlessly by night. Despite all the misery and control, the Arabs found a way; an outlet.

It is Tami’s resilience, the resilience of the Lebanese people, which echoed the sentiments of Anthony Shadid, who did not stop short of asserting during his speech: “At the heart of the Arab struggle is Palestine, a very dear subject for the Arab & Muslim world. This cannot be understated.”

I admire this man for his courage and resolve.

In 2012, during a trip to Syria where he was capturing stories about the ensuing conflict in the region, Shadid suffered what appeared to be a asthma attack. Shortly after Shadid passed. I was shocked by the news. Without any history of medical complications except for minor sensitivities to allergens, Shadid was not on course for any type of health issues.

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I remember having met his daughter at the time of his speech. She was quite young, very polite & beautiful. My prayers and thanks are with her, wherever she may be, for having had such an amazing man as a father. My dream is to honor his legacy and the struggle of the Arab people all over the world, which he represented so well.

I did not want to go into any details or elaborate on the possibility of foul-play regarding Shadid’s death, out of respect for him & his family. I will add, however that with regards to the Middle East, there is without a doubt an unrelenting fear among journalists, dissidents or activists of any sort, of persecution for propagating legitimate news, especially if it poses a threat to the interests of particular political actors. His bodies of work, including the aforementioned book, shows no restraint in exposing the consequences of the US government’s disastrous policies which would usher in violent instability & chaos that has yet to conclude, even a decade after the US initiated the invasion.

I pray that in the case of Shadid, his passing was a matter of fate and nature. Nonetheless, his legacy remains & the struggle for Arab dignity continues.

RIP Anthony Shadid. Thank you. May the children of Iraq see justice one day. Long live the Arab struggle for freedom & may Palestine one day be free!

CRITICAL ANALYSIS: One Nation, Divided Under Law (The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict & Ferguson)


First, Israel is already a Jewish state, and second, from the perspective of its Arab citizens, it’s a state that’s already seen as a preferential rather than full democracy. And passage of this gratuitous and provocative new law will only widen the growing and still irreconcilable gap between the two.

But now in the highly charged world of Israel’s political right, it’s made its biggest advances to date in the effort to enshrine Israel’s Jewish identity, as one of its Basic Laws that provide the foundation for the country’s legal and political system in the absence of a formal constitution, which Israel does not have. The bill’s defenders (among them Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu) maintain that it states the obvious, is long overdue, and is also essential to making clear to the Arab world (and the Palestinians in particular) that there can be no right of return for Palestinians into Israel proper.

“The natural and best way is for the ‘national’ character of a state to be ensured by the very fact that it has a particular majority.” And, as if taking its cue from the Zionist leader, that’s just what the Israelis have done.

It’s a Jewish state not just through declarations but through deeds as well. History, tradition, law, symbols, and practice anchor Israel’s Jewish nation-state identity through its ancient biblical connections; centuries of exilotic longing; a Law of Return; a national anthem that puts a return to Jewish Zion upfront; a flag that depicts a Jewish prayer shawl and star of David; a Hebrew language unique to only one nation-state; and, above all, as Jabotinsky had hoped, a population of 8 million, 6 million-plus of whom are Jews. It’s hard to believe that despite the secular character of Israel that aliens arriving in Tel Aviv wouldn’t quickly realize that they had landed in a distinct nation-state run by Jewish Israelis.

And yet a series of laws (most notably the Law of Return and the 1952 Citizenship Law) explicitly favor Israeli Jews. Other administrative rules and regulations give preference to Jewish and Zionist organizations in matters relating to access to land and housing. Then there is systemic, institutional, and societal discrimination that simply does not ensureequal allocation of state budgets and symmetrical benefits to Arab and Jewish communities. The clear absence of a shared public square where Israeli Jews and Arabs can participate equally and take pride in the symbols of the state — national anthem, flag, state holidays — can only reinforce a sense of isolation and separation. That Israeli Arabs may well enjoy more rights than citizens of many Arab countries and would likely not choose to live elsewhere, including in a putative state of Palestine on the West Bank and Gaza, are often arguments used to rationalize their second-class status. But these arguments really don’t work. If you are a real democracy then you make a determined commitment to try to be one, and that means doing everything possible to ensure that all citizens of the stare are treated equally in a de jure and de facto manner too.

1. Either democracy is the enemy in the sense that it is, like communism, and other collective ideologies, a method of propagating fears to suppress individual innovation, self-faith, God, diversity and success out of envy and self-asceticism.

2. Perhaps the issue is gerrymandering or manufacturing of facts, by battling democracy through republican-esque funding and manufacturing consent.

3. Israel never intent on being a democracy and can’t be do to religious and exclusive foundation thus rendering it incompatible with modern institutions and international peace. Apartheid, not democracy.

4. Keep in mind total population of Palestinians in the world outnumbers the total number of Israelis: 11 million Palestinians to approximately 9 million Israelis. (If we want to count Jews then we ought to count Muslims, which would be no comparison). Obviously, the Palestinians are not in Israel and the majority have left Palestine due to the occupation; but this diaspora of refugees would not exist if Israel wasn’t there. Democracy, or apartheid?

“Israel is a relatively young country. If you looked at the United States in 1830, roughly 60 years after independence, you would have found a nation where women couldn’t vote (and many white males, too), blacks were slaves, and native Americans’ lands were seized and tribes forcibly relocated. In a way, Israel’s situation was much closer to America’s in the 1950s, when millions of African-Americans suffered de facto and de jure discrimination. So it’s critically important to give maturing democracies an opportunity to deal with inequalities and discriminatory policies. After all, it took America a full century and half, a civil war, and a bitterly contested civil rights movement to reconcile the promise contained in the Declaration of Independence with the reality that our Constitution validated chattel slavery. And by the looks of Ferguson, Missouri, we still have a ways to go before eliminating the patterns of racial discrimination in our system.”

  • America Today: Mike Brown murdered; Eric Garner murdered; prison-system; jim crow…not very promising for ‘democracy’ or ‘State of Israel’.

A Struggling Syrian


Just ran into some fellow syrians at the Austin airport in Texas. They work for BEATS – RHYMES – RELIEF – a nonprofit organization that fundraises and raises awareness about the ongoing tumult in Syria. Almost a million refugees have been forced to relocate, and thousands of lives have been lost. The cause of the conflict is up to debate still – to the misfortune of many Syrians, especially the innocent victims. The ideological, religious, and ethnic divide in Syria has become more clear than ever – but there is no telling if these tensions preceded the crisis – or if they merely formed out of it. Fundamentalism is rampant in today’s world, from the pews of Utah – where evangelism and mormonism are the norm – to the Wahhabi districts of Saudi Arabia. This type of fundamentalism is pouring into Syria; whether it is in resistance to the Syrian government or merely a foreign plot. This is where the tale is at this moment – who is to blame? Well, I must say, it is extremely awkward to run into Syrians nowadays because I can feel the religious undertones gripping the consciences of every one of them even in the lightest of conversations. It is a really sad epidemic – this religious dogmatic fear-mongering-inspired prejudice. This phenomenon grips the whole world though – and has since the dawn of time – evident in conservative traditions and laws. The West struggles to break free from Judaic-Christian dogmatism in search for a lighter, more loving, peaceful (liberal) version; The East struggles to break free from an equally dogmatic militant-buddhist-ascetic and authoritatively indoctrinated atheism (from China to Malaysia to Myanmar); and in the Middle East; it is a struggle against the dogmas of Wahhabism, salafism, zionism, christian zealotry, self-righteous authoritarian theocratic Islamism (versus moderate Islam). Everywhere in the world, this struggle ensues; in all levels and scales; from minor conversations over coffee between friends and neighbors to the battlefields in Kashmir; philosophy collides. When all groups collide and there is no longer room for debate – when minds are freed and hate eradicated – it’ll give us purpose to live eternally basking in the struggle to maintain philosophical truth. The struggle is equally economic as much as it is social and religious – it is all in one. I guess that makes it beautiful – despite all the ugliness we see. But then again – there is a little beauty in ugliness – is there not?