band annie's Weblog

I have a parallel blog in French at


March 1, 2010

No to Agrexco

We call all of you, from all parts of France to join the big mobilization against the installation of AGREXCO/Carmel in the port of Sète (South of France, near Montpellier) on Saturday March 6. We will gather in front of the Region headquarters in Montpellier in the morning, to tell the region representatives headed by George Frêche, notoriously racist, and the candidates in these new regional elections that we refuse any collaboration with Israeli war crimes, occupation and colonialism. And then we’ll march to the port of Sète who is 35 km away from Montpellier.

We are organizing buses, trains and cars so that many of you can participte in this important initiative that is also an international one. Please write to tell us if you are prepared to join us.

The BDS campaign is progressing everywhere. We want to congratulate the comrades who led two remarkable actions last week-end : one at the airport of Liege (Belgium) against the import-export of “israeli” goods and war ammunition, and the other at the Brussels Holiday exhibition where 8 activists dressed in El Al hostesses and stewards proposed free tickets to Israel to the public, in order to thank Belgium for its military collaboration with Israel.

This progress in the Boycott campaign explains the threats, slanders and trials we undergo, with the complicity of our governement. Our friend Sakina Arnaud has just been condemned for “discimination” and “provocation to racial hatred” by some judges in Bordeaux for having put a sticker “Israel Apartheid Boycott” on a bottle of “Israeli” orange juice in a Carrefour supermarket. The judges accepted the summing up for the prosecution, which was made by the government itself that had followed the Israeli lobby demands. She was condemned to pay 1000 euros as a fine, and 500 euros to each of the two zionist agencies that were opponent parties, because odf a so-called “discrimination against a nation”.

Sakina Arnaud is appealing against the judgment and we’ll keep supporting her, including financially. We already sent 500 euros that we collected. Thank you for your help. Please send your checks to EuroPalestine, 16 bis rue d’Odessa. 75014 Paris. Please mention “in support of Sakina” at the back of the check.)

Talking about boycott, we call every one to pay attention to flowers next Sunday, which will be Saint Valentine day. Do not offer flowers from the occupation and lie.
The Franco-Israeli Chamber of commerce itself confesses that the thousands of tons of flowers exported by Israel in all Europe on that occasion, are labelled “Made in Holland” after a little detour via the Netherlands.

Don’t forget that many of these flowers come from Israeli settlements on Palestinian confiscated lands; while Palestinian villages are deprived from water, Palestinian houses demolished in many places, and Palestinian workers treated as slaves in places like the Jordan Valley. Without speaking of the Gaza strip that used to export 80 million tons of flowers a year, ten years ago, before the siege and the Israeli massacres last winter. But Israel dared show its “generosity” last year for Saint-Valentine by allowing 25000 flowers to get out of Gaza !

Don’t say “I love you” to any one with these bloody flowers !

Best wishes,


In polyglot Lebanon, Arabic falls behind

Many university students are not able to recite Arabic alphabet as youths consider language not very ‘cool’.

By Rana Moussaoui – BEIRUT

Lebanon, a tiny, vibrant Mediterranean country, prides itself on its polyglot society but for the country’s youths native Arabic is not very “cool.”

“Hi, kifak? Ca Va?” — or “Hi, how are you doing? Okay?” — is a typical multi-linguistic Lebanese greeting so popular it now appears on bumper stickers and teeshirts sold around the world.

English and French often replace the local dialect in conversation, especially among the urban youth, and one organisation has launched a campaign to preserve Arabic in Lebanon.

“Arabic is still very much alive as a language, but young people are moving farther and farther away from it,” said Suzanne Talhouk, who heads the organisation “Fael Ummer” (Imperative) which is running the campaign.

“Some of our youngsters are incapable of writing correctly in Arabic, and many university students we interviewed were not even able to recite the alphabet,” Talhouk said.

Urban youths are often unable to hold a conversation in one language, causing amusement but also irking those around them with such home-grown expressions as the popular farewell: “Yalla, bye.”

“At my school it’s more cool to speak French. Arabic is looked down upon,” said high school student Nathalie.

On Thursday the Tunis-based Arab Organisation for Education, Culture and Science decided to set aside March 1 of each year to celebrate the Arabic language.

A statement from the organisation said the move was an attempt to “preserve the heritage of the Arab nation in the face of globalisation.”

The message was heard loud and clear in Lebanon, which was once the Francophone hub of the Arab world.

The country of four million was under French Mandate from 1920 until its independence in 1943, and it is still widely considered the most “Western” country in the conservative Middle East.

In Lebanon most schools teach Arabic, French and English to their students from a young age, and the education authorities allow students with dual nationality to waive Arabic classes and government examinations.

“Having a second language is an asset, provided students do not forget their native language,” said Talhouk.

Experts are divided on who should shoulder the responsibility, with some blaming schools which they say have placed Arabic at the bottom of the educational pyramid.

“Schools often treat Arabic as a secondary subject,” says Henri Awaiss, who heads the department of translation at Saint Joseph University in Beirut.

“Also, students are bored because of the way classes are taught,” Awaiss said. “We have to open the door to more creative teaching methods,” he said.

But some teachers say the problem starts at home.

“Many parents tend to speak to their children in English or French,” said Hiba, who teaches Arabic at a primary school.

“The problem is that I find myself teaching six-year-olds who do not speak their own language and who are utterly shocked by formal Arabic,” which differs from spoken Arabic, she added.

According to Talhouk “some parents even request teachers address their children in French or English if they do not understand Arabic.”

“It’s sad. One shouldn’t be ashamed of their language,” she said.

And with the Internet age in full swing, “writing in Arabic is no longer fashionable among the young,” Talhouk said.

“Arabic today is a sort of ‘Facebook Arabic’.”

The Lebanese have even devised a web-friendly script for their dialect, using Latin font. Numbers such as 2, 3, and 7 are used to represent Arabic phonetic sounds that do not exist in English or French.

The United Nations cultural body UNESCO designated Beirut World Book Capital of the year (April 2009-April 2010). But reading, generally not a popular activity in Lebanon, is even less popular in Arabic.

“I don’t read Arabic novels because they don’t speak to the youth,” said Bilal, a Lebanese university student studying television broadcasting.

Leila Barakat, who manages the World Book Capital programme, stressed the need for more modern Arabic texts that address the new generation.

“We must support and encourage Arabic literature for young adults, which is today underdeveloped,” Barakat said.

Talhouk insisted that Lebanon should invest in preserving the nation’s cultural and literary heritage, as well as develop Arabic technological and scientific terms.

“Young people should feel that this beautiful language speaks to them too, that it is of their day and age,” she said


Sleepless in Gaza and Jerusalem

See trailer here

Sleepless in Gaza and Jerusalem is a video diary about four young Palestinian women, Muslim and Christian, two living in Gaza and two in Arab Jerusalem/West Bank

PINA TV Production camera crews will be covering Ashira Ramadan, a broadcast journalist based in Jerusalem; Ashiras friend in Gaza, the documentary film maker Nagham Mohanna; Dona Maria Mattas, a 17 year-old student at the Holy Family School in Gaza who dreams of growing up to be a journalist and Ala Khayo Mkari who works with Caritas in Jerusalem.

The intention of this series is neither rant nor rhetoric. It is rather an opportunity for all of us, who do not live in Gaza, occupied Arab Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank to grasp how these four Palestinian women live out their daily lives, precisely because their lives are stories that journalists are too often told by their editors to think of almost dismissively as human interest and almost necessarily conflict driven.

Sleepless is Gazaand Jerusalem documents how –as human beings — these four Palestinians can also experience moments of personal and community achievement, and the warmth of friends and family life that in real life is possible even in the most difficult circumstances of siege and occupation.

The series launches on Monday March lst it should be available in the afternoon on the East Coast of the United States and Canada, at night in the UK, late at night in the Middle East and even later going further east. We hope, quite soon, to have a better sense of timing. Each episode runs 26 minutes and will be shot, edited and uploaded each day for six days a week. On Friday, we all rest.

This series is produced by PINA TV Productions for Radiant Circle.

Directed by Ramzi Khoury. Executive producers: Abdallah Schleifer and Walid Sababa.

We can be reached at:

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑