Arabic versions of Harry Potter, Pinnochio, banned in Zionistan

This does not really make sense (in various ways):
Israel cracks down on Arabic Harry Potter 1 hour, 51 minutes ago JERUSALEM (AFP) - Harry Potter and Pinocchio are apparently not welcome in Israel, at least in their Arabic translations imported from Syria and Lebanon. Arab-Israeli publisher Salah Abassi told Israeli public radio on Monday that authorities ordered him to stop importing Arabic-language children's books from the two longtime foes of Israel. The ban includes translations of such books as Pinocchio and Harry Potter as well as Arabic classics. "The trade and industry ministry and treasury warned me that importing those books is illegal," said Abassi, who imported the books through Jordan. The ban is based on a decree from 1939 -- when the area was under British mandate -- prohibiting the importation of books from countries that are at war with Israel. Abassi told the Maariv daily most of the books can be found only in Lebanon and Syria. "If they were printed in Jordan or Egypt, which are friendly to Israel, I would lose no time in buying them there. Now the significance is that the Arabic reading public in Israel will not be able to enjoy the best literature," he said.
Hmmm, if this ban is based on a law dating back from mandate Palestine, how can it have anything to do with Israel? Surely Israel does not recognize the laws in place before its creation? AFP should clarify this point.
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Links August 10th to August 11th

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Goodbye Mahmoud Darwish

"My Mother" I long for my mother's bread My mother's coffee Her touch Childhood memories grow up in me Day after day I must be worth my life At the hour of my death Worth the tears of my mother. And if I come back one day Take me as a veil to your eyelashes Cover my bones with the grass Blessed by your footsteps Bind us together With a lock of your hair With a thread that trails from the back of your dress I might become immortal Become a God If I touch the depths of your heart. If I come back Use me as wood to feed your fire As the clothesline on the roof of your house Without your blessing I am too weak to stand. I am old Give me back the star maps of childhood So that I Along with the swallows Can chart the path Back to your waiting nest.    (Mahmoud Darwish, translation found on http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/Cafe/1324/darwish.htm)
Mahmoud Darwish died on Saturday. Many obits refer to him as something like "Palestine's national poet" or "the poet of the Palestinian cause" which in a way is true but which makes this extraordinarily talented poet sound like something smaller than he was. He wasn't just the voice of a particular state or people; he wasn't a propagandist. What I found outstanding about his work is how--deeply and constantly concerned as he is with the problems of Palestinians--he manages to never be ideological, to always be free within his writing, open-eyed and even funny, a true artist. And therefore universal and all the more powerful when he does talk of the suffering and injustice of Palestinians. I still remember the shock of delight when I first read "Memory for Forgetfulness" ("what a book!"), of which an excellent English translation is available.  Al Jazeera English has a nice segment on Darwish. I also recommend his official site, which has a great selection of audio recordings (unfortunately seemingly without the transcripts to go with) of the poet reciting his work. And I'm posting more English translations of some of his poems after the jump.  
"Identity Card is one of the first poems that made Darwish famous across the Arab world. 
  Identity Card Record ! I am an Arab And my identity card is number fifty thousand I have eight children And the nineth is coming after a summer Will you be angry? Record ! I am an Arab Employed with fellow workers at a quarry I have eight children I get them bread Garments and books from the rocks... I do not supplicate charity at your doors Nor do I belittle myself at the footsteps of your chamber So will you be angry? Record ! I am an Arab I have a name without a title Patient in a country Where people are enraged My roots Were entrenched before the birth of time And before the opening of the eras Before the pines, and the olive trees And before the grass grew. My father.. descends from the family of the plow Not from a privileged class And my grandfather..was a farmer Neither well-bred, nor well-born! Teaches me the pride of the sun Before teaching me how to read And my house is like a watchman's hut Made of branches and cane Are you satisfied with my status? I have a name without a title ! Record ! I am an Arab You have stolen the orchards of my ancestors And the land which I cultivated Along with my children And you left nothing for us Except for these rocks.. So will the State take them As it has been said?! Therefore ! Record on the top of the first page: I do not hate people Nor do I encroach But if I become hungry The usurper's flesh will be my food Beware.. Beware.. Of my hunger And my anger !   The Pigeons Fly The pigeons fly, the pigeons come down... Prepare a place for me to rest.  I love you unto weariness, your morning is fruit for songs and this evening is precious gold the shadows are strong as marble. When I see myself, it is hanging upon a neck that embraces only the clouds, you are the air that undresses in front of me like tears of the grape, you are the beginning of the family of waves held by the shore. I love you, you are the beginning of my soul, and you are the end... the pigeons fly the pigeons come down... I am for my lover I am. And my lover is for his wandering star Sleep my love on you my hair braids, peace be with you...  the pigeons fly the pigeons come down... Oh, my love, where are you taking me away from my parents, from my trees, small bed and from my weariness, from my visions, from my light, from my memories and pleasant evenings, from my dress and my shyness, where are you taking me my love, where? You take me, set me on fire, and then leave me in the vain path of the air  that is a sin ... that is a sin... the pigeons fly the pigeons come down... My love, I fear the silence of your hands. Scratch my blood so the horse can sleep.  My love, female birds fly to you  take me as a wife and breathe. My love I will stay and breasts will grow for you  The guards take me out of your way my love, I will cry upon you, upon you, upon you. because you are die surface of my sky.  My body is the land, the place for you... the pigeons fly the pigeons come down...       
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Three years and three days

So much for what we had grown used to thinking of, half-jokingly, as the Arab world's only democracy. Three years and three days after the coup that deposed a much-hated and brutal dictator, Mauritania's generals decided they would get rid of President Sidi Mohammed Ould Cheikh Abdellahi, an ineffectual politician and undoubtedly bad leader who nonetheless had the merit of having been fairly elected. For the past six weeks, Mauritanian politics (which you will only hear about in the Western press when there's been a coup, which may be why they have them so often -- 10 in the last 50 years) had come to a standstill as MPs from the ruling party rebelled, governments fell or resigned, motions of no-confidence were threatened, and financial improprieties by the first lady were investigated. Outlandish claims of corruption were made (one I saw reported is that Abdellahi spent $2 billion on his family's travels, a figure which even the notoriously profligate King of Morocco doesn't reach), and more generally many Mauritanians appeared to be unhappy with problems such as rising jihadist violence that caused the cancellation of the Paris-Dakar earlier this year, poor handling of rocketing food prices (Mauritania regularly suffers from droughts and imports 70% of its food), and other ills. Dissident MPs were reportedly courting the military about doing something about all this, which did not please Abdellahi, who responded by firing the top four generals in the army. It so happened that there were the same people who had carried out the 2005 coup -- and indeed charged with protecting the president and the constitution -- so they were not about to let that happen. They arrested him and his prime minister, and repeated the same scenario as three years ago: formed a temporary "state council" to govern the country while they promised free and fair elections and the eventual restoration of normal constitutional rule. Except that this time it is a lot less easy to accept the military coup as a form of positive intervention. Even if Abdellahi was corrupt and ineffectual, so much symbolic capital has been spent on legitimizing the previous coup as democratic that justifying this one will be difficult. The suspension of foreign aid by the US, and probably soon the EU, are one sign that things are different. One thing that is important to remember is that the people behind the coup are not only the same ones as in 2005, but that they were also part of the ruling elite under the previous president, Ould Taya. One might even say that they are the same people who've been ruling for decades, more or less. It now seems that the legitimacy the 2005 coup has gone to their heads, and that they think they can intervene every time there's been a hiccup. So even while Mauritania was given an unlikely veneer of democracy, the army remained capable and willing to intervene at any point rather than let politicians (no matter how inadequately) resolve their problems among themselves. Abdellahi could have been ousted by constitutional means, and chances are that if he had not taken the ill-considered move of sacking the military's top brass (presumably to replace them with allies) he would have lost his post one way or another. In the meantime, should they want to become more robustly democratic, Mauritanians need a military with less itchy trigger-fingers, new mechanisms to defuse political crises (and, realistically, prevent politicians from too arbitrarily interfering in military affairs). But it would also help if Mauritania's neighbors (who have been very silent on all this), its distant backers like Saudi Arabia, France or the US, and the international community more generally were to coax the military junta into a deal whereby Abdellahi is restored to power in return for the cancellation of his order sacking the generals. Then, Mauritania's politicians can decide for themselves whether they should relieve Abdellahi or call for fresh presidential elections. For the rest of the Arab world, there is the usual perplexing scene of illegitimately elected autocrats and monarchs-for-life voicing their concerns for democracy. Perhaps they are secretly rejoicing that dirt-poor, peripheral Mauritania has not turned out to be as democratic as everyone thought and that the sarcastic columns penned by the likes of Fahmy Howeidy, who in 2005 wondered whether "the Mauritanian option" was the solution to the Arab political predicament, will no longer appear. Above: Al Jazeera International reporting on anti- and pro- coup demos in Nouakshott. Links to articles on Mauritania: Al-Ahram Weekly | Front Page | A classic coup Mauritania | Another president booted out | Economist.com Le premier président démocratiquement élu en Mauritanie a été renversé - Afrique - Le Monde.fr Mauritanie : la junte militaire promet des élections "libres et transparentes" - Afrique - Le Monde.fr BBC NEWS | Africa | US halt aid over Mauritania coup Arab news - Editorial: Power grab in Mauritania AFP: Mauritania police break up anti-coup rally Last but not least, follow the latest development on the Mauritania-centered blog The Moor Next Door.
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