Modern Comedy: Funny or downright tasteless?

In such a harsh world, what better way to ignore it all than by laughing all your troubles away? When I’m feeling blue and need a pick-me-up, I know the first thing I do is watch The Cosby Show- one of my favorite childhood sitcoms that I stayed up until 9pm to watch on Nick At Nite. Back then, staying up until 9pm was a huge thing…it also meant that anything after 9pm was considered inappropriate for children. I know you’re probably thinking, “but really…The Cosby Show? Inappropriate?”. Watching that show today, there are a very scarce innuendos that a child shouldn’t hear but the great thing about it is that if a child didn’t know, he/she wouldn’t understand the joke. Also, there was always an underlying life lesson in every episode despite how “mature” the content was considered to be. For me, Bill Cosby became a huge role model in my life specifically my dancing skills.

However, let’s not go without saying that raunchy comedy did not exist in those days. Oh, because it did! Sex, booze, racism, swearing, misogyny…I’m pretty sure Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor’s careers depended on all these topics. The great thing about this though, that after 9pm…you can turn the TV and not have the hear this stuff. Some people found it funny, others found it tasteless. But what feels like way back then, we had the option to choose what tickles our funny bones. These comedians knew they were rude and offensive and if you didn’t like it, simply don’t watch. These days, it’s not really the case anymore.

Perhaps a result of Murphy and Pyror, almost all of modern day comedy is incredibly tasteless and offensive. Not only that, it is everywhere and you can’t really escape it to find innocent comedy anymore. This is one of the reasons why I still watch re-runs of I Love Lucy or Boy Meets World…to run away from the disgusting, uncomfortable language that people consider hilarious. It’s not funny to me, I don’t want my children to watch this kind of stuff and I definitely don’t want it to be labeled normal.

I have only two examples of how misogyny in particular is so desensitized in modern comedy and the ways comedians attempt to justify it.  This word, in particular, offends me beyond belief and what offends me even more is how comedians defend themselves for using it. Two instances that took place on Twitter bothered me most when I got sucked into the turmoil because I lashed out at comedians who used it.

First: the word. How many ladies have ever been called a c*nt? To some, it may not hurt because it’s popular in the culture. To others, according to Wikipedia, it is considered “the most heavily tabooed word of all English words”. According to The Free Dictionary, the word “c*nt” is “offensive” and “used as a disparaging term for a woman“.

I know this word has been used to describe me many times, whether it’s because I condemned people for using the word or that one time I said The Killers were my favorite rock band (I wish I was joking about the latter, but someone called me a c*nt for having “terrible taste in music”).

Back in May 2013, Arab-American comedian Aron Kader fell into hot water for calling speaker/author/activist Max Blumenthal a c*nt after a Twitter argument. Many people tweeted in condemning Kader while he still continued to defend himself and call it “comedy”.




He also resorted to even more misogyny:



I condemned him publicly and well…you can just read all that here and make your own judgement.

Another fall out happened recently, when a more popular UK comedian by the name of Frankie Boyle used the word to describe Cory Monteith , Glee heartthrob who died recently of an accidental drug overdose. (If the name sounds familiar, I blogged about him before his shocking death). Not only is this offensive to the deceased, but again, another comedian stupidly uses a misogynistic term.


When I brought it up, Boyle immediately blocked me and many others who told him it was cruel. I also got a few hate tweets myself from Boyle fans. I was accused of not having a “sense of humor” and that “it’s just a word that can be used for endearment”. I don’t know what parts of the world these people come from, but calling me a word to describe a part of the vagina doesn’t really sound like a term of endearment to me. I should also mention that no one has ever called me that word and meant it in a good way. Also, what struck me with both comedians is that they tried to lessen the impact of the word by saying they used it to describe a male. I’ll let that one sink in a bit.

I’m not quite sure what I am trying to make of this blog. Perhaps I am “confused” or not “hip enough”. Or maybe I’ve taken a word that has been used as a tool of degrading women for centuries way too literal. But you and I know that modern comedy is getting way too out of hand when they using these words to describe nine-year-old girls.



Categories: feminism, Media, Twitter | Leave a comment

33 Yom: A tale of resistance and love

33 Yom (33 Days) is a Lebanese film based in the Southern town of Ayta Al Shaab which is roughly 1KM from the occupied Palestine border. The film, which is said to be funded by Iran, shows a fictional story from the Battle of Ayta AlShaab in the July 2006 War leaving hundreds of soldiers dead and many wounded.

The film commences with a battle- a fuzzy view of resistance fighters and Israeli soldiers in combat at what looks like the Lebanese and now-Israeli border grabbing the audience from the very beginning, inviting them to the reality of what the 2006 war was about from a resistance fighter’s point of view.

As the film officially initiates, it shows the civilian lifestyle of these fighters: taking the audience into their homes and humanizing those who are often perceived as terrorists. It begins with a wedding, a time of happiness, with people dancing and having a joyous party- only for it to be wrecked by a walkie-talkie call to Mohammed, who appears from the very start to be one of the main operators of the defense battles throughout the movie. Through that walkie-talkie, the news of an attack on Lebanon by Israel is clear and war quickly starts. Having lived through the 33 day war in South Lebanon, the echoes of denial that attacks would last long from nearly all the main characters were all too similar to those of conversations in my home in 2006. Many did not believe Israel would have the audacity to try to annihilate and reoccupy South Lebanon once again, even despite having seen their capabilities in the occupation. This shows how surprising, even to those who had suffered for so many years at the hands of Israel, the war was and how quickly it claimed the lives of thousands of Lebanese civilians.

Without giving to much of it away I want to say how much this movie, although fictional, really sits next to reality. The characters may be made up but throughout the history of Israeli invasions, similar things have happened and are capable of happening again. The women of resistance fighters, for the past 30 years, have had to deal with their husbands disappearing for large amounts of time to protect their country from Israeli attack, many of whom probably never made it back home. Many families have a martyr in their family, not necessarily a resistance fighter who was martyred but children, parents, grandparents, cousins etc. just as I do in my family.

33 Yom also played fair when it depicted it’s Hebrew-speaking Israeli soldiers, particularly one woman soldier who stood up to a top Israeli commander, whom she adored, telling him he had no right to do what he was doing to the Lebanese people. This to me, was unique as it showed the side of Israeli soldiers that choose to rebel against their government’s disgusting war policies.

The film was not a propagandist one at all and really focused on Ayta AlShaab and the resistance fighters. It does not even mention Hezbollah once, however many reviews often link the two together as it was Hezbollah’s war and pictures of Chief Sayyed Nasrallah painted the set. But it really showed how the 2006 was a war of man vs machine- where on one side Lebanese fighters had an emotional motive for fighting, having been tortured by Israelis previously and on the other, Israeli soldiers scattered around unknowing of the situation boastfully carrying their enormous weaponry that in real life played no match to Hezbollah’s strategies.

Many critics argued that the movie was too simple, but one needs to consider that it was based only in one of the hundreds of affected villages and it was still very intense. The battle of Ayta was only one battle, one area, one small village in South Lebanon that was pulverized into rubble. But the passion from the villagers, the civilians…this existed throughout all of south Lebanon. Many stayed and refused to leave their homes, giving the enemy any benefit whatsoever. I remember watching an elderly man on the news holding a half eaten packet of biscuits saying “I have nothing left to eat but these biscuits, but I will never leave my home even when I run out”.

All in all, as someone who viewed this war “live” I VERY much enjoyed it and thought it was executed well. I advise anyone who comes across it to watch and share.

Categories: Lebanon, Media | Leave a comment

War on media: the time is now

Please read this first: Truth does not bother Israel. Pushing buttons do.

My social media sister @occpal and I have decided that we are going to wage a war. No not a violent one, mind you…but a figurative war against the media. We, and I am sure many others as well, are fed up with the silence regarding Palestine in mainstream media (MSM for the cool kids). We can join social media websites like Twitter and Facebook and complain about it all we want, but where will that take us? Perhaps, we should target the media instead of just ranting about it. Hopefully, this will eventually encourage people to do offline protests in front of BBC, CNN or what have you…there are no rules here!

We are compiling a list of media online (mostly on Twitter for now), for you to contact when tweeting angrily about Palestinian suffering. The media plays a great role, because the more people know about the truth of Israel, the less they will support it. The more people hear the word “Palestine”, the more they will want to learn about it.

What I’d like for everyone to is give me a list of reporters/journalists/news from your country. That way, I can put them on this blog and everyone can just pick and choose who they want to direct their Palestinian related tweets to. I will be accepting politicians’ twitters as well.

I’ll start with US media and Lebanese politicians on Twitter, as well as a few from a couple of European countries. Feel free to add to this list in the comment box below and it will be updated into this blog.











Rick Sanchez @RickSanchezTV

Octavia Nasr @OctaviaNasr

Christiane Amanpour @CAmanpour

Katie Couric @KatieCouric

Wolf Blizter @wolfblizterCNN

Nicola Kristof @NickKristof

Anderson Cooper @andersoncooper

Ayman Mohyeldin @AymanM

Arianna Huffington @AriannaHuff

Rachel Maddow @Maddow

Brian Williams @Bwilliams

Chuck Todd @chucktodd

George Stephanopoulous @GStephanopoulous




@LBCI_group (LBC)


Najib Mikati, Prime Minister @Najib_Mikati

Saad Hariri, former PM @HaririSaad

Michel Sleiman, President @SleimanMichel






























Also, I want to stress: Do not pester these people. Be relevant and logical at all times. You don’t want to end up like this.

Categories: Media, Palestine | 2 Comments

Trending for Palestine: Hashtags for hunger strikers

Trending for freedom- social media activists have taken action by using twitter hashtags to trend for untold stories of injustice and suffering. It was done for Khader Adnan and Hana AlShalabi, both who starved for freedom…protesting Israel’s administrative detention where they were held without being charged for a crime. There is no denying the passion, strength and determination these two had…but it was not loud enough for some. Without the help of persistent activists all across the globe, the media would’ve let their stories go untold. Activists mobilized with what they had to bring themselves together, to unite for the sake of two people who desperately wanted to live. They used the internet, they used the power of a keyboard, a mouse, a monitor. And thanks to the willpower of Khader and Hana, for surviving for so long, people got their stories heard and they were freed. They were no longer dying to live, because they were alive to hold their mothers, their daughters, their wives, their brothers once again. The internet truly saved their lives.

Bilal Thaeb and Thaer Halahleh are both on their 76th day of hunger strike and their state of health is not looking good. Thaer is losing his hearing while Bilal is losing sensation in his feet. They are slowly dying and the world is still silent. Despite the victories for Khader and Hana, people have turned a blind eye yet again.

That is not the only issue at stake.

While Bilal and Thaer are barely living, over 1000 Palestinian prisoners have joined them in protest and solidarity hunger strikes for 27 days. Yet the media is still silent. There is a revolution going on in Palestine- the most peaceful, selfless revolution…and it is not enough for the world to get angry and do something about it.

We, the world, have to say enough is enough and help these people. We, the world, who are fortunate enough to eat, to walk down the street, to live, to love freely…we need to share that with our Palestinian brothers and sisters who DESERVE, perhaps more than I do, to be able to do those things as well.

So I beg of you, great activists and regular humans, please join us in our trends for Palestine: our hashtags for hunger strikers EVERY NIGHT AT 9PM PALESTINE TIME (Use this website to convert the time, you will have to use IST unfortunately to get Jerusalem) and send an email to in order to get more updates about hashtags to trend on Twitter. We have done #75DaysVSApartheid which trended for approximately 20 minutes on Saturday (May 12th) and #Yom76 today (May 13th) which unfortunately did not trend at all.

The main focus is to tweet the media, journalists and politicians with twitters in attempt to pressure them into reporting or condemning Israel’s illegal detainment of innocent prisoners. Please, tweet with restraint and I ask that you TWEET POLITELY TO THEM AND DO NOT BE RUDE. I understand that there is frustration but no one will listen to us if we are mean. Here I have conducted a list on who to focus on, mostly western outlets/politicians.






@AJEnglish (Al Jazeera English)












Rick Sanchez @RickSanchezTV

Octavia Nasr @OctaviaNasr

Christiane Amanpour @camanpour

Katie Couric @KatieCouric

Wolf Blizter @WolfBlitzerCNN

Nicholas Kristof @NickKristof

Anderson Cooper @AndersonCooper

Sherine Tadros @SherineT

Ayman Mohyeldin @AymanM

Rawya Rageh @RawyaRageh

Arianna Huffington @AriannaHuff

Rachel Maddow @Maddow

Brian Williams @bwilliams

Chuck Todd @ChuckTodd

George Stephanopoulos @gstephanopoulos

(If you need to contact me on Twitter in any case, I am @Lsal92 and my name is Leila!)

AGAIN: Do NOT harass the journalists/reporters. We don’t want to flood them with tweets and annoy them until they block you (trust me, half of them have me blocked…) so please just keep it at two tweets from each twitter user if we have a lot tweeting. Let’s be respectful, please.

And if you have anymore to share, please drop a comment. Thank you so much, everyone. Don’t let Palestine down, she needs us. FREE FALASTEEN.

Categories: Media, Palestine | 5 Comments

Mona ElTahawy, stop victimizing us

Recently the self proclaimed leader of all feminism and anything that is female, Mona ElTahawy, wrote an article bluntly titled “Why Do They Hate Us?” insisting that the lack of freedoms of women in the Middle East is based solely on one thing: that Arab men hate women.

She begins her article citing a story from the book “Distant View of a Minaret”- a controversial tale of an Egyptian woman living in the Arab world. Like any Western influenced commentator on us ‘brown people’, she appeals to the Western audience by choosing a dubious topic: sex. It is not untypical of Mona to bring up sex. Her past articles and commentary that I’ve read leave me with the impression that Mona thinks the only way a woman can express herself and be free is sexually, just as she has done before on her website.

The beginning of her article was enough to throw me off. Using sex as a tool to reel in the reader is so mediocre and unoriginal. But as I peeled through the rest of it, I found myself offended. Not only on behalf of all feminists, who’s voices are overshadowed by this attention seeker, but on behalf of all men in my community.

She blames every hardship of the Arab women on one thing: basically because she bears a vagina. She victimizes an entire population of women by spewing statistics backed up with her fraudulent claims that we are the way we are because men despise us and won’t let us have orgasms. Lest we forget her deep rooted hatred of Islam and the inability to allow anyone to believe in whatever they want. She wants rights for everyone. But they have to be based on what she says. Stop questioning her, or else you hate women. And if you are a woman, you hate yourself. For shame.

Completely neglecting the fact that the Middle East has been a war torn region for centuries, which ultimately and obviously resulted in poverty and weak education, Mona insists that women are incapable of achieving anything because we are so hated. Yet she ignores the fact that women were key players in the Arab uprisings, even staging all female protests at times. She disrespects the female martyrs of not only the recent revolutions, but even those who resisted decades of occupation…picking up guns to fight for their homes and land in Lebanon and Palestine.

Mona, who tries to empower women, marginalized us with this article, making a minority seem like the majority when in fact it is not and I say this while being a non-hijabi living in Southern Lebanon. Yes, I will be honest- I have been disallowed to do certain things because of my gender. But not because I am simply a girl, but because people fear for my well being. In the whole world, not just the Middle East, everywhere is a scary place to be. Now imagine how it would be for a woman to just walk out thinking she is equal to everyone else when she’s not because of teachings that existed before the Middle East did. She will only end up hurt. There is no reality in Mona’s extreme feminism and instead of empowering women to do something they’re good at and inform us of the rights we should be asking for, she marginalizes us and seeks pity. This works right into misogynistic hands, to make the woman seem like she is a victim when Arab women are damn strong.

However that’s not the only case- she not only marginalized Arab women, but Arab men too. She made my grandfather, my male friends, my dad, my cousins…she made them all seem like they all hated me when in fact I have been nothing but loved my whole life. My father has provided me with eternal love, has treated all of his five daughters like princesses. My father, who has no sons, would prefer that I never get married because he doesn’t think any man would be worthy enough to have me.

I know good Arab Muslim men who live on their knees, at the feet of the women of their lives because they appreciate them so much. Men who would go against their fathers to side with their beloved mothers. Mona, who is so keen on insulting Islam often, seems to have forgotten one of the Prophet Mohammed’s sayings, that heaven is at the mother’s feet.

I have so many key figures in my life, who are Arab men, who inspire me to do one thing…and that is love. Love life, love family, love nature, love politics. With her claim that Arab men hate women, I’ve only seen a few…maybe a handful of men, who don’t understand the beauty of a woman. But to generalize all Arab men? That is a far-fetched excuse for a desperate feminist to be controversial, to gain attention in all the wrong ways.

For me, this article plays into the hands of two kinds of people: Western media who tries its hardest to portray the Middle East in the most terrible way possible and actual misogynistic men who most likely enjoy women being belittled. My last words for Mona: STOP victimizing me. Stop speaking for women. You don’t represent me.

Categories: feminism, Media | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Has misinformation on Syria made us lazy?

With the Syrian government vehemently cracking down on the media a year after what has become a controversial uprising in Syria, one can imagine how difficult it is to get unfiltered, professional news from on the ground. Syria has found itself in a tough position media-wise, similar to the one the Ahmadinejad regime faced in 2009 when “The Green Revolution” ignited  instability, claiming Iran had witnessed a fraudulent election. Because of what he claimed was biased and over exaggerated media, Ahmadinejad was forced to banish all foreign media from entering the country- leaving activists participating in the uprising to rely on social media. Fast forward 2 years and Bashar Al Assad’s regime has been doing nearly the same, however allowing selected journalists to view the country under the watchful eyes of a guardian who works for the government.

Many have criticized that these measures are aggressive, unfair and limit the capability of journalists- who are there to report on the uprising. Taking part in government tours obviously restricts journalists from roaming freely, gathering their own information. This leaves the media to resort to what might possibly be one of the most resourceful types of journalism technology has to offer: social media. Again, the fate of stories being passed around are in the hands of citizen journalists.

Although, how professional is it? Can it be credible? Well, it depends on if we want it to be.

Lately, the world of journalism has fallen victim to vile hypocrisy, where some social media news stories are immediately dubbed “trustworthy” and other stories go through a detailed researched process, like it would for legitimate news corporations. Let us compare the situation of Syria and a recent conflict claiming a coup d’etat was taking place in Qatar.

A while ago, I decided to create a fake Twitter. It was simply for my own convincing, that social media cannot always be a safe source of news. I was not intending for it to go far, nor harm anyone in the process. It was personal, to see the measures I need to take in order to confirm news. I wanted to see how far an anonymous alias can go with spreading false information.

I pretended I was a Syrian activist in exile, living abroad whilst my family was living in Homs, Syria. I had approximately 5 followers, my account was up for 3 days and I did not post a real name. In fact, I used the name Haifa Wehbe when contacting twitter about my account. I went by the username “@RebelliousSyria” and used a image I found on Google, with a foot clamped on a picture of Bashar Al Assad’s face. What I did was tweet a few misinformed tweets, one of them where I tweeted “Death toll risen to 37 in Homs! #Syria” and tweeted it to prominent Twitter star and columnist Mona ElTahawy and to my surprise, she retweeted it- to over 100,000 Twitter followers that follow her account.

This account went on for a few more days, until it got suspended by who I presume was pro-regime supporters reporting my account into oblivion. However, what struck me was the lack of professionalism that social media has to offer. Here I was, a newly formed account with absolutely no credibility spewing complete and utter nonsense and it meant no difference to those retweeting or sharing my news. This to me, seemed like a dangerous game. Blatant lies being spread could potentially put innocent lives in danger, if facts are not checked.

But here is where it gets interesting:

When the situation of a possible coup d’etat in Qatar was brought to light on April 16th, it was plummeted into darkness only minutes after…again, on Twitter. Qatar has also been labeled as “not free” when it comes to freedom of journalism, as journalists often hold back from reporting the full story. Also, the Qatar based network and practically Qatari mouthpiece Al Jazeera, owned by Sheikh Hamad bin Thamer Al Thani a distant relative of the Emir of Qatar, has come under fire for its lack of coverage on Bahrain. However, this doesn’t seem to strike anyone into thinking that possibly a type of censorship may exist in Qatar and it’s not just happening in Syria.

Those facts didn’t change anyone’s mind when it came to denying rumors about the coup d’etat. But why isn’t this the case for Syria? Are we just too used to being misinformed?

Have we become so used to unverified, unconfirmed news on Syria, that we ourselves are too lazy to do research ourselves? When even large news corporations have decided to just sporadically report unconfirmed news, why should unpaid unprofessional citizen journalists be any different? Take Al Jazeera’s Syria Live Blog. With words like “allegedly”, “unconfirmed reports” and “activists say”, why should we do our research?

I was told by a journalist once that they need to use these words, as a caveat. But what are they warning the viewers? That they themselves don’t know what’s going on?

And the information continues to be spread. Whether it is out of ill intention or desperation, is it really helping keep the revolution legitimate?

Categories: Media, Syria, USA | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Why Syrian Activists aren’t making the situation in Syria any easier

I know I wrote a blog recently about how citizen journalism is important, but here I have written a blog where I contradict myself.

Since the Syrian uprising began in February 2011, I have found myself being attacked on a daily basis for speaking my mind about the ongoing violence. For those who know me by now- I have to give my opinion about everything regardless of who does or doesn’t value it. It might annoy people, but I can’t help it. Naturally, I bottle up my political rage daily and vent it all out of Twitter. This is the new age, people. We are no longer strapping bombs to our chest out of angst but instead tying ourselves to 140 characters that, and I know all too well, get us into a decent amount of trouble. I mean, what moron decided that we should shove the political complications of the Middle East in a tweet? Twitter is not the greatest platform for debate. This leaves people offended, friendships lost and words misconstrued.

Well alas, I have decided to add a few more characters to 140 in an attempt to discuss both sides of the revolutions. Now, I’m not usually one to explain myself or my opinion because I am beyond the point of caring about random strangers but the abuse is just too much and Syrian activists of both sides are just doing my head in. I find this issue comparable when speaking about Bahrain.

There are only two sides in this game. I so eloquently named them the “pro-regimers” and the “anti-regimers”.

Let us speak about pro-regimers. I can do so little as link an article about a reported number of deaths and because of my South Lebanese background I should ultimately support him otherwise I am labeled as a conspiracy believer. Bashar Al Assad should be my savior and as a Lebanese I mustn’t even assume he would kill his people. Now, sure…Bashar Al Assad played a major role for helping my people out. 2006 was not easy. Whether it was for his benefit or whatever, I’m still alive. Perhaps that’s selfish but no one likes to be blown up to bits. Although, when it comes to internal Syrian affairs, naturally a human activist wants to see all humans free. I will not bow down to any politician who supports my freedom while oppressing others. This is a Zionist rhetoric and I definitely do not enjoy Zionists. Here are some conversations I’ve had with the “believers”:


Me tweeting: “Maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea for political reform”


Don’t let this confuse you, the Free Syrian Army is who I don’t support, support intervention so this can be a somewhat justified thought. But I definitely support people power and I know most Syrians are not okay with occupation. So don’t round them all together and assume they are all for the worst.

Me: “I do not support the deaths of anyone”

Them: “But these are terrorists, it’s okay.”

No comment.


“Allah, Bashar w bas”

No. That’s not how it works. I’m sorry but even if he’s on our side, I condemn that kind of worship and it’s not even a firm base to help inform people. Politics is a fickle game, I fully believe every high-ranking politician has done something illegal to get to the point to where they’re at.

Now onto the anti-regimers: If you don’t worship their revolution, they attack you. I have been attacked by even so-called friends who would gang up on me when I merely asked for confirmed statistics of murders. What is wrong with that? Everything in life needs confirmation, even the news. Especially when reports of murdered Syrians turned out to be untrue (see: Zainab Alhusni). I don’t know about you all, but I take Twitter seriously when it comes to wanting to be informed about the world. People may find this gullible, but I use Twitter a source of news and I know I am not the only one. This is why I stress on confirmation, especially if I myself want to re-post certain information. The problem with Twitter is that it has given average Joes like I the ability to report news from my country without people actually knowing if I did my research. Thankfully, I tend to think I have morals and try my hardest to verify news because misleading people is dangerous and may potentially be threatening to others’ lives.

I hate to say it, but the outburst caused by asking for verification from anti-regimers is similar to the reaction from Zionists when you mention white phosphorous. It turns into something like this (again, based on real arguments I’ve had):

*someone tweets*
“47 die in Homs attack by Assad forces. This footage cannot be verified”
Me: “Hi can you find me a link that verifies this?”
Tweep: “How dare you deny the deaths of innocent Syrians! You are a hypocrite! You only follow sexy revolutions”

Now this needs no explanation because I really don’t freaking know what a sexy revolution is but I imagined a bunch of Arabs in 3 inch heels and mini skirts.


Me, when someone keeps bringing up the conspiracy that Iran/Russia/Hezbollah are killing protestors: “Why don’t you talk about the allegations of Qatar mercenaries trying to infiltrate through Turkey?”

Tweep: “Why are you concerned about Qatar? You are a conspiracy theorist”

Uh no. How about if you’re going to talk about one conspiracy, you bring up the others too. If you don’t, you are being biased and shaping people’s views against their will.


“You only support Palestine because you get attention from it”

Yes, I very much enjoy getting attention from people getting murdered.


“You are a fake, you don’t care about Syrian freedom because it’s not ‘in'”

I assume this has something to do with a revolution being sexy.


“Why don’t you ever ask for confirmation when it comes to issues regarding Palestine? You would never question an IDF operation”

Really? I come from Lebanon where I’ve seen IDF operations with my own eyes. I need not any confirmation as I know their capability. And even then I still need a little confirmation.


Lastly, my favorite:

“You support Assad because you are Shia, from South Lebanon and we all know your stance on Hezbollah. You are brainwashed.”

Ah, the never-ending obnoxious tweeps that bring my sect into my political view because clearly I am too retarded to do my own research and shape my own political opinion. And I was unaware that in my very American public school system in California that we were forced and brainwashed to adore Sayyed Hassan. These jerks are the worst, because they are the ones that make the uprising sectarian.

The most annoying part of the situation is that NEITHER side can give you any statistics. I am an average citizen of the world, concerned about the state our earth is in. Is it so wrong to question? Is it so wrong to ask just for one itty bitty verification, from both sides, without opinions slobbered all over it and people getting all touchy about it?

And this is the part where I await the abuse provoked by this blog (even though almost everything is a provocation. Saying “Syria” is a provocation.) Please, use the comment section of this blog to vent your frustration at me because I know you were going to anyway. 🙂

Categories: Media, Syria, USA | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Why Citizen Journalism Rocks and Real Journalism is Dead To Me

August 19:

Eliat attacks occur. At least 7 Israelis dead. No one knows who did it. Everyone is in shock. The news ate this news story up; from CNN, to NBC all the way to Al Jazeera.

A few hours later, Israeli politician Ehud Barak accused Gaza “militants” to be behind the attack without providing any information or facts to back up his claim and promised that Gaza would “pay”. But suddenly then, everyone forgot about this important story that was only developing into something worse.

Perfect timing for Israel. Or was the silence deliberate?

It was only a matter of time before Israel started bombarding the strip on all corners: North, East, West, South. By the end of the day, 7 were killed, including 2-year-old Islam Qreiqe on his birthday, and many critically injured. All this information, I found via Twitter; a source I have been turning to for quite some time especially since the Arab revolutions began. Citizen journalism was definitely one of the ways to go for me, but I still needed that hardcore journalism. You know- reporters in helmets and bullet proof PRESS vests, working tirelessly to provide information that I so desperately needed to know.

So I frantically turn on my favorite news channel, Al Jazeera English, which had impeccable coverage of the Gaza massacre in 2008-09. I thought- well, if something is happening in Palestine, AJE has got my back right?

Turn on the TV. A documentary is playing. “Oh okay” I said, “I’ll read the scrolling headlines”. Nothing. Zip. Nada. But oh wait, they’re talking about the Egyptian soldiers that were killed in a brawl between Israeli soldiers. Phew, so they are paying attention. But why no Gaza? Where is Gaza?

So I did something that was unlike me- I started flipping to other news channels. BBC, CNN, SKY and NOTHING. Perhaps by now there would have been a mention of it in the scroll bar, but it was probably so small of a mention that I forgot or the words went by too fast…

Were Gazans making this up? No way. I mean why would they? Not one news station was playing any sort of reportage from the strip, I started becoming skeptical. But I shook it off my skepticism because I know Israel and I thought it was a one day thing where they went completely ballistic and took out all it’s aggression on Gaza like it typically does. I thought it was over. I let the media silence slide. Then the “BREAKING” tweets start reappearing on my timeline from average Palestinians living in the strip and it went on for 2 days into the attacks on Gaza. More deaths, more injuries, still no evidence by Barak that Palestinian militants were behind the Eliat conflict.

Again, I quickly open my TV and see the headlines, “Libya, Syria, more Libya”. Very important news. Gaza is just as important right? Oh look, Gaza reportage…I can’t wait to see what they’re about to repo..

“Hamas has broken the 2 year truce. Gaza rockets are now being fired into Israel, we are now going to speak to an Israeli spokesperson…”

Gaza has been getting bombarded for nearly 3 days in a row, the death toll had been risen to 15 by then and 40 people were critically injured and NOW all of a sudden they feel like reporting about it? When Hamas breaks the so called “truce”? Maybe the news forgot that the night before the Eliat attacks, Israel bombed Rafah? Oh but that’s not breaking the truce until a homemade rocket is fired, right?

So I drag myself back onto my computer and see minute to minute updates on the situation in Gaza. Every explosion reported, every injury acknowledged, every person murdered was given a name. I’m shocked. Not only by what’s happening, but the fact that these unpaid average civilians were doing a better job than any top notch news agency who apparently think some news stories are more important than others.

Five days into the bombardment, I had stopped watching the news. My journalism dreams= dead. My love for the news was gone. I found a new source of information: Citizen journalism. I too took part in this, yet did not more than confirm reports with other Gaza tweeps and retweet on Twitter. It was so easy to get news now, but I underestimated how hard it would be to get it heard. While I have to give credit to average people around the world WANTING to learn more about the situation and wanting to help out: the lack of actual TV coverage was disheartening. It basically meant that if people didn’t search for Gaza, then everyone who didn’t wouldn’t know what was going on. I know that if I hadn’t signed onto Twitter, I wouldn’t have known.

So is Gaza’s story exclusively for twitter now and for people who feel like reporting on it? Because personally, I’d think that 5 days of heavy bombardment (which is slowly halting, but still occurring as I type this) seems like important news to me.

Categories: Gaza, Israel, Media | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Digital Revolution: How social media affected the Arab uprising

It almost felt like a tradition; a strong Arab politician corrupted by the policies of foreign lands, being installed to become the leader of a whole nation only to benefit Western powers. The dictator was firmly placed on his throne only to leave on one condition: death. After the inevitable happens, he is replaced by one from his bloodline, preferably his wealthy son or a just-as-corrupt ally. Most Arabs of the older generation, who were only allowed the emotion of fear thanks to emergency law, learned to live with it and the younger generation were expected to to do same. After decades of living this way, the action of one sparked a never-ending string of revolutions. A frustrated Tunisian man by the name of Mohamed Bouazizi, 26, set himself ablaze after his street cart was confiscated by Tunisian police. Bouazizi, who was providing for his family with his street vending, was often harassed as his work was deemed illegal by Tunisian authorities. His actions submerged Tunisians into outrage and anger and inspired protests across the region, which hit the waves of social networking sites. 18 days after the incident and with a visit from the country’s president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Bouazizi died.

Activists all over the world had the chance to become aware of Bouazizi’s story and the protests he inspired and actually become a part of a the revolution thanks to websites such as Twitter and Facebook. When protests started to get violent after Tunisian activists and Ben Ali forces clashed, people all around the world were given live updates from activists and reporters on the ground through these sites. Information was being circulated, showing the true colors of Tunisia’s president, decreasing his support. On January 14, 2011, the 40 year ruling of former president Ben Ali was over and he was forced to step down. The impossible became reality and dawned a new era across the region.

Swiftly, activists all over the Middle East were inspired and decided to stage protests in their countries. Not much time passed when citizens in Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Syria, Libya, Algeria and even the Gaza strip were demanding political reform and a democratic system. Just like with the Tunisian uprising, social media networking sites, specifically Twitter, became a platform for planning gatherings and updating the public with data and photos. At least once, every Arab on the internet caught themselves re-tweeting some of these revolutionary tweets. By the time of legendary uprising in Egypt, there was no resting in the land of the world wide web. People who partook in this tweet marathon would find that every three seconds, there was an estimated 40 tweets updating the situation in Egypt. It was hectic and by then, everybody had joined in.

But was the all the attention beneficial? With the amount of misleading information online, could we have done without social media?

I asked the influential Palestinian-American journalist Ali Abunimah, co-founder of the popular website “Electronic Intifada” ( and author of the book <em>One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse</em>, about his thoughts regarding the role social networking played during the Arab revolutions.

“On the whole I think social networking is positive because it has enabled activists to connect across large distances and to learn about each others work and circumstances.” he said. “That’s certainly the experience I have had with the Internet since the mid-1990s before it was called ‘social networking. Some of the real life relationships I have developed came about first through social networking online.”

Abunimah spoke about attention surrounding social networking stating, “There is also a lot of exaggeration and hype about social networking and media being behind the Arab revolutions. I have not seen any convincing evidence of that. Revolutions are always made by people who have decided that they are prepared to risk their lives to bring about changes that they can see no other way of bringing about. Perhaps social networks played some role, but no doubt printed pamphlets or cassette audio tapes might have played a similar role in previous revolutions in earlier times. So these are useful tools, but we must always keep them in their proper perspective!”

I also got different perspectives from average online users who rely on the internet during this pivotal moment in the Middle East. And what better place to get in contact with them than on Twitter and Facebook?

Twitter user @AsiefD from South Africa thought social networking caused negativity because “everyone has their two cents and throw around their ‘expert’ opinion” whereas @iAmArabb from Newcastle said, “[It’s] positive-everyone is in touch and kept up to date, no one is really in the dark about whats going on”

On Facebook, Zeinab Saleh from the California stated, “I think they’re helpful because they spread the word of what’s going on and there’s different people with different opinions. You read it all and see different sides to everything. You learn”. And Austen Maddox from Kentucky thought, “It’s helpful on getting people organized but on the other hand it’s very easy for the governments they oppose to read everything they plan”

Arabs have witnessed the truest form of democracy ever in the history of the Middle East, which is freedom from tyranny and capitalism.To echo what Mr. Abunimah said- it was regardless of how people chose to communicate with the world but actually the will of brave protesters that helped achieve the vital change in the region. And, to me, they owe it all to one young heroic Tunisian man- Mohammed Bouazizi.

Leila Saleh

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