Yaba Yaba

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Archive for January 2007

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The Institute for Middle East Understanding provides journalists with quick access to information about Palestine and the Palestinians, as well as expert sources, both in the U.S. and the Middle East.


At toot, we want to provide you with a window and a link into an exciting new universe of people-powered opinions, information, dialogue and entertainment. From politics to sneakers. From culture to technology. From boys and girls!

We are bloggers, readers, designers and technologists ourselves. We are excited to build a new medium in which intelligent voices from and for Arabia are brought together and presented to a wider community; where passionate readers and writers can share and communicate without filtering.


This essay contest takes its title from a 1951 poem by Langston Hughes: What Happens to a Dream Deferred?. The poem helped propel the civil rights movement in the US. Today, it will hopefully inspire you to describe your dream deferred for the Middle East, which the UN calls the world’s least free region.


Written by yishaym

January 30, 2007 at 3:25 pm

The Future Vision of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel

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The Future Vision of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel has stirred quite a racket over the last few week, though perhaps not enough. In case you haven’t heard about it, the Mossawa centre says it is:

Published by the National Committee for the Heads of the Arab Local Authorities in Israel, this paper aims to define a future collective vision of the Palestinian Arab citizens in Israel, focusing on legal status, economic and social development, land and housing and educational and cultural visions. 

Not too surprisingly, it includes more than a few controversial  statements, many of which appear to be aimed a political and cultural autonomy for Palestinian citizens of Israel, and some which were perceived by the Jewish population as challenging the fundamentals of the state.

The text puts forward a position about a possible future of the state of Israel. I have not studied it in enough detail to comment, and I am looking forward to hear more on other people’s perspective. I think the meta-text here is more important than the text itself.

The meta-text is that there is a dialogue between Jews and Arabs regrading the possible futures of the state of Israel. This dialogue is an existential necessity for both groups. The unique contribution of the vision document is in placing this dialogue in legitimate public channels. The exchange of blows of 2000 has been replaced by an exchange of words. While these words are not always pleasant, and not always productive, it is imperative that we maintain the dialogue in this medium.

From reading a bit of the document and a bit of the debate around it, I get a sense that there is sometimes a confusion between dialogue and negotiations. Dialogue seeks understanding, negotiation seeks compromise. In dialogue sincerity is paramount. In negotiation it is subject to strategy. Some of the declarations made in the context of the current debate carry an undertone of an over-radicalised initial stance for bargaining. While this is useful (and expected) in negotiations it is counter-productive in dialogue.

I see the role of concerned people in the diasporas (Jewish and Palestinian) not at the text level, but in supporting the meta-text. I believe we should try to refrain from taking any stance regarding the document itself, and focus on supporting the process of civil dialogue.

In short, the issue is not what the document says, but the fact that the future of the state of Israel can only be shaped by democratic, inclusive, and honest civil dialogue within the state of Israel. Our role, as people outside Israel who care for its future, is to support this dialogue.

Written by yishaym

January 29, 2007 at 12:12 pm

Save Borough, or: Money vs. local community, who’s side are you on

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In the right hand corner:

In 1987 British Rail proposed building a new concrete and steel rail viaduct through the historic Borough High Street Conservation Area – the scheme required demolition and part demolition of 20 listed buildings, the Green Dragon court, and part of the market roof. Assisted by a legal team of seven including three barristers, plus thirteen specialist witnesses

In the left hand corner:

Local community groups – Cathedral Area Residents Association (CARA) and Bankside Residents Forum (BRF) opposing the Thameslink 2000 upgrade through the Borough Market area. Assisted by a lawyer and a barrister, a transport expert, an historian (all working pro bono) and 10,000 petition signatories.

Round one:

The Government (Department of Transport and the Department for Communities and Local Government) has given permission and legal powers to Network Rail for this massively destructive project to build an additional viaduct through the Borough Market area.

Now it’s your turn.

Written by yishaym

January 26, 2007 at 1:35 am

Petrificus Totalus, BS”D

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Gotta love this one:

Based fully on traditional Jewish teachings, from Talmud and Midrash to Jewish Law and the Chassidic masters, Harry Potter and Torah will touch the souls of Harry Potter fans, fans of magic and fantasy, and anyone curious what Judaism says about esoteric themes.

The book has a blog too.

digg story

Written by yishaym

January 22, 2007 at 1:00 pm

Posted in art, books, Jewdaism

Massive attack

with one comment

Ethan Zuckerman reports from the Sunlight/Berkman conference on ‘Ten Democracy Projects in Seventy Minutes‘.

I see three themes there (my analysis): radical transparency, community empowerment, and massive participation.

Radical transparency: you should have access to any knowledge that affects your life. Governments and corporations should be fully exposed.

Community empowerment: communities need the access to technological means to organize and mobilize themselves.

Massive participation: social technology can allow the wide masses to collaboratively shape the democratic process.

Did any one say cluetrain?

Written by yishaym

January 18, 2007 at 1:24 pm

Can’t buy me love

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but who said money can’t make you happy?

12:11 me: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6250189.stm

12:12 J: i would love to see statistics for other things on banknotes just for comparision, say parsley

 me: some things I rather not know.

12:13 and I’m not talking about parsley

 J: i don’t doubt that their isn’t a mayjor drug problem in ireland, but i’m not convinced this is the way to prove it

12:14 🙂 to be honest i did tone down my preferred alternative sample because gtalk is keeping records

12:15 me: I don’t know if its any worse than any other western European country. it could just be that cocaine is a very resilient substance. I just find it amusing, even the idea that someone thought of testing this


 J: it’s big news over here, no 1 story etc

12:16 i’d love to be the kind of researcher who gets to test for odd things like that

12:17 me: I can see these guys sitting in a pub saying ‘hey, I bet that half the notes in that cashier would test positive for coke’

12:18 J: 🙂

 me: but I think, given people’s habit to sniff in public toilets, maybe testing for other substances would reduce the attractivness of coke

12:19 if you only new what was going up your nose..

 J: very true

Another point made by N. – to sniff you need fresh notes.

Written by yishaym

January 13, 2007 at 5:29 pm

Posted in drugs, science

King of Iranian bloggers gets stoned in Tel-Aviv

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Written by yishaym

January 13, 2007 at 5:24 pm