Category Archives: Critiques

Dabke is an Israeli dance according to The New York Times

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NYC Dabke Dancers respond to ZviDance “Israeli Dabke”

The below entry was mentioned as part of the Dance Listings for Aug. 2-8 in the New York Times:

ZviDance (Saturday) Inspired by the Arab Spring, the Israeli-born, New York-based choreographer Zvi Gotheiner created “Dabke,” named for the traditional, celebratory line dance performed at Muslim weddings in the Middle East. (The title means “stomping the ground” in Arabic.) A free class in Lebanese dabke and its Israeli offshoot, debka, precedes this Lincoln Center Out of Doors performance, which is a split bill with El Gusto, the recently reunited Algerian band of Muslim and Jewish musicians. At 7 p.m., with the dance class starting at 6 p.m., Damrosch Park, Lincoln Center, (212) 721-6500,; free. (Burke)

Even though the article doesn’t say that Israelis came up with Dabke, Philip Weiss who wrote the below article does make a point that the New York Times has given a lot of importance to this Israeli dabke, which honestly doesn’t look anything like our traditional Dabke.

I’ve read some of the comments on Weiss’s article and while it’s true that it is a matter of cultural appropriation and not imitation, I don’t believe we can forbid or lament artists, whether Jewish or not, from reproducing the Dabke dance in their own way. On the other hand, it wouldn’t hurt the New York times to highlight Arab dances such as the Dabke, speak of its origins and tell people about groups like the Lebanese Caracalla for instance.

The English invented curry and paisley, right?

The dabke (or debka) is an Arab dance. I’ve seen Arabs dancing it in several countries. Zvi Gotheiner is an Israeli-born choreographer in New York. He has a dance called the “Dabke,” and the New York Times has given his dabke a lot of ink over the last year or so.

June 3, 2012 in the Times:

The dabke is a line dance of the Levant. At weddings in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, people link up arm to shoulder or hand in hand and stomp out rhythms and patterns. Israelis, so often at odds with their neighbors, also have a version. Dances are easier to share than territory.

The Times again, June 19, 2013:

The dabke is a line dance, traditionally for men only, often performed at weddings and celebrations in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Israel and the Palestinian territories. But it is just Mr. Gotheiner’s starting point. Music makes people dance communally, and the sense of community in “Dabke” is so strong that at times we feel that we are on a kibbutz.

The Times August 1, 2013, in dance listings:

ZviDance (Saturday) Inspired by the Arab Spring, the Israeli-born, New York-based choreographer Zvi Gotheiner created “Dabke,” named for the traditional, celebratory line dance performed at Muslim weddings in the Middle East. (The title means “stomping the ground” in Arabic.) A free class in Lebanese dabke and its Israeli offshoot, debka, precedes this Lincoln Center Out of Doors performance, which is a split bill with El Gusto, the recently reunited Algerian band of Muslim and Jewish musicians.

Hasbara: First we made the desert bloom. Then we invented hummus. Then we came up with an amazing line dance. Thanks to Helen Schiff.

That’s one weird Dabke

The real authentic Dabke – by Karakalla

Thanks P!

Was It Wrong to Share The Video of Amina Ismail?

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Ever since I posted the video of the Lebanese man filming his wife committing suicide, I got complaints from people asking me to remove it/ report it claiming that it’s inappropriate.

To be honest, I saw the video again and again and didn’t find anything violent or graphic. What disturbed me the most was the idea of a man taking the time to film his wife while she was committing suicide instead of preventing her because filming her obviously didn’t help. Having said that, I understand that it must be horrible for her family to see the video and they have every right to ask for its removal and I will be the first one to take it out, but I think the way the video went viral helped shed the light on few serious matters:

1- Some are saying there’s a longer version of the video where the husband is filming the whole house before he spotted his wife about to jump and kept filming. As convincing as this may sound, I still find his reaction really weird but I’ll wait for any investigation results to come out.

2- How did the video reach a local TV knowing that it was in the hands of the Internal Security Forces? Why didn’t the TV consult with the proper authorities before uploading it? Were any measures taken against the officer who leaked it?

3- There’s a shadow of a man holding something in his hand as shown above in the video. Some are suggesting there was someone else and others are saying this might be some tool the man is holding or I don’t know what. LBC clarified that matter too by showing that those were keys.

4- Eye witnesses are saying it took almost 45 minutes for any ambulance to show up which Luna clarified in her interview with the Red Cross.

I know those are all speculations but I hope we will figure out what happened as it is very hard to believe that a woman would throw herself like that for no reason after she just got married, and her husband would be standing there filming her while she commits suicide (He also attended her funeral). I am not accusing anyone of anything but it is out of respect for the victim and her husband that a proper investigation takes places specially after the video spread.

Unfortunately, I have a feeling this tragic incident will end up like other unresolved mysteries in Lebanon.

In all cases, my sincere condolences to the family of the victim and her husband.

Creating A Sustainable Business By Keeping Politicians Accountable: A Good Idea For Lebanon?

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The idea might not be a new one but it worked out for Hackmack in Germany and it might work in Lebanon if it’s done by the right people. We need a panel of experts and intellectuals to kick off such a project away from any political affiliations and hopefully people will start to hold their representatives accountable for their acts. Social Media has proven to be a highly efficient tool in boosting transparency so let’s make good use of it.

I’d like to hear your thoughts on that and whether it’s feasible or not.

You can read more about it [Here]. You can also check out the website [Here].

BONN, Germany – With the federal election season in full swing in Germany, social entrepreneur and Ashoka Fellow Gregor Hackmack is busy preparing his online portal, ParliamentWatch, to host a variety of special online forums with German media partners and to connect citizen’s questions to candidates.

“It’s all about bridging the gap between citizens and politicians,” Hackmack said at the recent Ashoka Globalizer event in Bonn, which the Ashoka Germany office organized to piggy-back on the larger Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum. “We need to build that bridge.”

Roughly 95% of federal parliament members participate with the site, answering 80% of the 150,000 questions that have poured in from voters. The questions are stored in archives as a public record, which voters can use to later hold politicians accountable. The site can also sort and slice data and responses. For example, it shows, graphically, how responsive each of the major parties in Germany is to questions.

“We try to provide as much transparency as possible,” Hackmack said. “It’s one thing what people say they will do and another thing to see how they vote.”

The forum has proved popular, generating 350,000 unique visitors per month. It has partnerships running with several media including Süddeutsche Zeitung, broadcaster NDR, Spiegel Online (see Spiegel’s profile of Hackmack here) and more than 40 other local newspapers, which help draw questions from voters to the site and use some of the answers and data in news reports.

The Janna Dam: Yet Another Scandal?

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Building a dam in Janna could affect the water flow to Jeita Springs

The German Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources published a [report] back in May 2012 on the Janneh dam and gave the below conclusion and recommendations:

Conclusion and Recommendations:
The results of all four measurement campaigns prove the existence of a massive infiltration into the J4 aquifer in the Upper Nahr Ibrahim Valley and have major implications for the currently ongoing planning of the Janneh dam which extends well into the assumed zone of high infiltration.

The exact location of the infiltration zone could be narrowed down to the area shown in Figure 23. The infiltration zone could start at an elevation of approx. 80m asl going up to around 860 m asl. The major infiltration is assumed to be at an elevation of 810-820 m asl. The planned minimum level of the Janneh dam would be at 834 m asl, the maximum level at 839 m asl. Due to infiltration between 14 and 29 m of storage would be lost completely.

In view of the current findings, it is strongly recommended not to go ahead with the construction of the planned Janneh dam.

The infiltrating water is believed to flow towards Jeita spring, constituting a large share of discharge at Jeita Spring. Any interference at the infiltration zone would directly affect Jeita spring. Should it be attempted to seal the infiltration zone, though practically impossible, discharge at Jeita spring would be significantly reduced.

It is recommended to establish a completely new monitoring of spring flow at Afqa and Rouaiss springs because both stations are in a state of disrepair and do not produce useful results. Construction costs for both are in the range of 1 Mio USD.

Despite these facts, The Energy and Water Ministry Gebran Bassil is going ahead with plans to build a dam in Janna, knowing that this plan might potentially damage Jeita Grotto.

Is Bassil aware of this report? Does he know something we don’t?

Either way, he’s a resigned minister now and hopefully this plan will never see the light.

Fadel Shaker Featured In The New York Times

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He was a known and loved artist and had the chance to play a positive role in society, instead he chose to get armed and shoot at army soldiers. What a total waste of oxygen this guy turned out to be.

You can read the whole article [Here].

SIDON, Lebanon — His success was a dream come true for this tough port city on the Mediterranean coast: a poor kid whose honeyed voice and ballads of love and heartbreak rocketed him to wealth and fame far from the gun-ridden neighborhood where he grew up.

Ahmed al-Jardali, a leader in the Lebanese branch of the Muslim Brotherhood in Sidon, said he tried to persuade Mr. Shaker to focus his piety on spiritual songs.
“Someone like Fadel could send a message much better than someone holding a rifle, so it was important for us to try to put him in the right place,” Mr. Jardali said. “But then the problems started and it was too late for him to choose a different direction.”


Standing in Mr. Shaker’s bedroom upstairs, where springs jutted from a burned mattress and a black chandelier hung overhead, Mr. Sin, the driver, shook his head.

“Even I have no idea what changed him,” he said. “How did he benefit from all of this?”

What is Al-Jadeed’s Reporter Nawal Berri trying to prove?

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We have over 600,000 confirmed Syrian Refugees in Lebanon yet this Al-Jadeed reporter figured some might be “Nawar” (As if those are not human beings) and are pretending to be Syrian Refugees to get food and shelter. She also thought it’s ok to stay in the car and yell at random homeless people sleeping on the streets asking them if they are Syrians or not and requesting identification papers.

I honestly don’t understand what Berri was trying to prove by this report. Al-Akhbar also didn’t get what she was going after and saw in her report more racism against Syrian refugees.

Sehnaoui: Fiber-optics network will cover all of Lebanon by year-end

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Picture from TheBeirutReport

We’ve been waiting for the fiber-optics network to be completed for 3 years now as it was promised by the previous Telecom Ministers. I hope this time things will work out and people will finally be able to enjoy more than 1 lousy Mb connection but if you read Habib’s report on this matter, it doesn’t look like it’s gonna happen anytime soon.

Let’s not forget the ongoing feud between the Telecom Ministry and Ogero.

Lebanon recently dropped 6 spots in the Download Index Report and now ranks 158th out of 182 countries.

Telecom Minister Nicolas Sehnaoui said Thursday that more than half of Lebanon’s telephone substations were linked to a long-awaited fiber-optics network, and vowed to extend coverage to the remaining areas within the next six months. “After two years of work, the fiber optics network is ready in 170 telephone areas, and we sent a letter to [state-run telephone land line operator] OGERO to detail their financial and technical requirements to expand it to the remaining areas, which do not yet have DSL,” he said.

“The project is a part of balanced development … and no Lebanese will be without fast Internet by the end of the year,” Sehnaoui said. [DailyStar]

Haifa Wehbe Gets Sued After Ramez Ankh Amon’s Prank

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This is beyond ridiculous.

Egyptian lawyer Abdelhamid Shaalan has filed a lawsuit against the singer, demanding that she’s denied entry into Egypt. Shaalan told that Haifa was extremely exaggerated in her reactions, and showed an ugly face that no one had ever seen before.

“How could she have insulted an Egyptian artist in the way she did, while she lives in Egypt and has earned her fame through them? Egyptians have been nothing but loving towards her, is this how she repays them?” the lawyer said.[Link]

Why is Addiyar still open?

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Taken from +961

I was just reading on Rami’s blog the small note the paper had left to thank one of their reporters for failing to do his job properly and I remembered a month back the letter Addiyar’s Editor in Chief Charles Ayoub wrote to Syrian President Bashar el Assad begging him for $700,000 and admitting he lost all his money to gambling.

He deleted the letter from his page but I found it somewhere else. You can check it out [Here]. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything more humiliating and unprofessional and I am wondering whether any actions should be taken against the paper to close it down. Aren’t there any rules or guidelines to operate a newspaper in Lebanon? Shouldn’t there be a minimum level of credibility and integrity?