Arab Spring

A barren tree, once full of life
Stands leafless, brown ice in gloom
A barren tree, once full of strife
Stands not a spark, not a flower in bloom
A barren tree, once full of promise
Stands in sorrow, a promise but for tomorrow
As for today, not a leaf dares there stay

Friday, December 09, 2005


To put it in perspective, the Egyptian government killed eleven Arabs in the last three weeks and the Israeli government killed four Arabs. The Egyptian government’s police also wounded scores of fellow Egyptians and two Palestinians were wounded by an Israeli air strike.

To put it in perspective, the Egyptian government sent out paid thugs, gangsters and police officers to beat harass and shoot at Egyptian voters in areas where they are thought to be voting for opposition parties while Israel does not want to lift obstacles and road blocks around the West Bank and East Jerusalem to allow Palestinians to vote.

To put it in perspective, the Egyptian government has decimated the Egyptian economy in the last 23 years, where the standard of living has steadily declined and Egypt’s influence around the world has become nothing. Simultaneously, the Palestinian economy is nonexistent, where the majority of Palestinians are not employed and most of their infrastructure has been destroyed by Israeli bombs.

To put it in perspective, the Egyptian government receives more than 2 billion dollars in US money annually, which is second in American foreign aid only to Israel, receiving more than 3 billion dollars in grants and many more billions in loan guarantees that would never get paid off. And Americans wonder why Arabs hate us.

To put in perspective, the Egyptian government occupies 70million Arabs, while Israel only occupies a total 5.5 million Arabs (counting those within Israel).

Who needs enemies when you have Hosni Mubarak?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

French Arabs: France’s Saving Grace?

It has been common knowledge for sometime now that the French socialist model has failed its citizens. This is not only the case in France but a problem in much of continental Europe where socialist policies to protect workers against opportunistic capitalist corporations and provide basic services such as education and healthcare to the public have stifled competition and resulted in a rigid, inflexible bureaucracy. This rigidity, in turn, makes it very hard for European countries to compete on a global scale, although, one can argue the humanitarian aspect of such a system when compared to its American “do or die” counterpart, where many do but still die anyway. However, whatever changes Europeans need to make, it is obvious they will have to commence this painful exercise of economic liberalization very soon. As stated earlier, everyone knew that the French model was sinking, but what no one expected was how volatile it made the situation in France, until the 2005 French riots. Young French men, first and second generation African and Arab, have rioted for more than two weeks now, protesting France’s economic stagnation, lack of jobs and discrimination. Discrimination maybe the biggest challenge to the French who have not redefined themselves since the Gauls roamed France before the invasion of the Romans: “…nos ancetres, les gaulois….” French Arabs and Africans think they are French but the public and the private sector don’t seem to think so. A study found that resumes sent out with French names, rather than Arab names, were 50 times more likely to be offered a job. But the discrimination is not the whole story. There is a real debate throughout Europe about the direction of the European Union and whether it should adopt the French and German socialist models or steer towards a British and American free market economy. This debate, perhaps, was one of the main reasons that the French and Dutch voters rejected the constitution in the spring of 2005. Another problem with the socialist model is the excessive protectionism on everything from agriculture to manufacturers, although no country, including the United States, is innocent of that. The penchant for protectionism combined with a rigid bureaucracy, high corporate and income tax, highly organized and protectionist labor unions leads to an inefficient economy that is not readily capable of changing course as needed which in turn results in the high unemployment and the economic stagnation that we see in much of Europe today. The French, as do the rest of Europeans, have a simple choice to make now: Push on with the painful changes from the top or wait for a much more painful socio-economic eruption from below.