10 Thoughts to Live by in 2016

With the holidays winding down, and the return to routine becoming eminently closer, I wanted to take stock of the last 365 days. I am happy 2015 is over, with it’s ups and downs and twists and turns, and looking forward to a hopefully better 2016. As arbitrary as it may seem, the start of a new year gives us a feeling of a fresh start, like cracking open a new notebook to page 1. The following aren’t exactly resolutions, more like thoughts I am reflecting on:

1. Life passes by quicker the older I get and I should remember to slow down and enjoy it.

2. Since all actions begin from a thought, I will try to avoid negative or defeatist thinking and focus on constructive and positive thoughts instead.

3. It is ok to feel happy, joyful, excited, elated, calm, serene, anxious, depressed, and angry but know that the feeling is fleeting and I will not be defined by a transient emotional state.

4. Be grateful and express gratitude for this great life of mine.

5. Continue to help others within my means in my life and in the world with their own struggles.

6. Keep the connections with my friends and family here and around the world alive. So happy to be surrounded by awesome people in my life. Love you all!

7. Don’t be defined or dependent on the approval or validation of others. I am enough.

8. Challenge myself to go beyond my comfort zone in my professional, social and personal life and avoid complacency.

9. Remember that we are all tiny flailing creatures living on a tiny rock rolling around in the universe, puts our struggles into perspective.

10. Keep dreaming and taking action steps towards my goals, the universe has my best interest at heart and Fortune Favors the Brave.

Here’s to an amazing 2016! Happy New Year everyone!

Take your Pain and Make Art

Yan Yaya 3

Take your pain and make art

Take your doubt and forge ahead anyway

Take your defeat and fuel your next try

Take your loneliness and remember we are all one

Take your longing and wrap it with hope

Take your sadness and savor the little joys of life

Take your vulnerability and wave it like a flag

It is a badge of honor for awakened souls

Wear it with pride and join the ranks of the brave ones

Take your pain and make art

Image source: Yan Yaya

Thank God it’s Existential Crisis Friday or TGIECF for Short

Do you ever feel like you are living on a hamster wheel? Like what the fuck is the point of it all?

Image source: https://tyrnyx.wordpress.com/2012/04/23/wrong-frog-and-owl-day-180/

I broke this existential crisis down:

Basic things I need to live:
1. Food and water
2. Shelter
3. Clothing

Things that are most important to me in life:
1. Spending quality time with family, friends and loved ones
2. Traveling and exploring the world
3. Enjoying experiences that broaden my mind and enrich my soul
4. Learning, learning, learning
5. Reading
6. Music
7. Netflix

Here’s the conundrum, none of these things are materialistic, but ALL of these things need money and sacrificing a portion of one’s time.

To get money, one must work. Work essentially follows the following formula. I, the employee will trade you, the employer, my time, skills and energy to help your business. In exchange, you, the employer, will give me, the employee a dollar amount that fairly or unfairly represents my value to you.

This formula gets more complicated if you’re self-employed, but since most of us aren’t, we’ll stick the employee/employer formula.

When one works, one spends a large portion of their waking life at work, thus severely limiting one’s ability to do the things one enjoys most; spending quality time with family and friends, traveling and exploring the world, binge watching shows on Netflix, etc. Also, you can’t pay for rent and food and shoes so that sucks.

Possible solutions to aforementioned existential connundrum
1. Become completely independent without needing food, water, clothing, shelter by accidentally falling into a vat of radioactive waste that renders you immortal and self-sustaining.
2. Find a profession that inspires and excites you so that you don’t feel like you are continuously running on a hamster wheel.
3. Continue on your evolutionary path towards enlightenement through knowledge, gratitude, meditation and being present in the now.
4. Help others and get over your first world problems.
5. Ice cream.

How to Survive the Canadian Winter

I have lived in Montreal for almost 3 years now and one of the most asked questions I get from friends and family who live in warm climates is: “How do you survive the Canadian winter?”

The key, as I have learned from people who have lived here for a while, is to embrace and celebrate winter, not just tolerate it. To make it through those cold months between November and March, you really have to find immerse yourself in winter related activities and festivities. Now that we are in the home stretch (1-2 more months!), here are some survival tips I follow during winter.

Check out the local winter festivals

When you live in a city where winter lasts 5-6 months, you find that the people have found ways to celebrate the winter. Montreal has a lot of winter festivals that make you almost look forward to winter (almost).

Igloofest – An Electronic music festival that invites fans to dance under the stars in the Old Port of Montreal. The festival lasts for 4 weekends (Jan-Feb) and features local and international dj’s pumping up the music. Tip: Dress in more layers than you think you’ll need, dance close to the crowd and drink a jagermeister shot every once in a while to stay warm.

Montréal en Lumière and Nuit Blanche – Montréal en Lumière is one of the largest winter festivals in the world which usually takes place between mid February till the beginning of March. There is an overwhelming variety of cultural activities to choose from in various Montreal neighborhoods like free live concerts, shows, art exhibitions and a long ice slide for kids (theoretically).


Ski, or learn how to ski

If you already know how to ski, then you’re way ahead of the game. There are a lot of great slopes just outside the city (many of which offer instructors for beginners). Otherwise, there are plenty of winter activities you can do right in the city.

Go ice skating in the park

A few great parks in Montreal like Parc La Fontaine and Beaver Lake on Mont-Royal turn into beautiful outdoor ice skating rinks in the winter complete with music (sometimes cheesy but still fun). It’s free if you have your own ice skates but if you’re a noob like me, you can rent ice skates for about $10. Beaver lake also offers tubing, and snowshoeing.

Ice Skating in Parc La Fontaine Montreal

Plan a fun night in

My friends and I usually have a fun night in about once a week. Whether it’s a potluck, Golden Girls marathon or a game night, a fun night in is  a great way to spend quality time with friends without trudging through the snow. A few rounds of Pictionary or Cards Against Humanity will really elevate the night. Tip: Stay away from Monopoly if you actually want to keep the friendships you have.

golden girls

Keep Walking

Although it’s fun to have a nice night in, resist the urge to completely hibernate on your sofa until April. I try to walk outside at least 30 minutes to an hour every day. It does wonders for my energy level and mood.

walk in the park Montreal

Carry on

Chances are, short of drinks on a terrace, all the activities you enjoy throughout the year are still going on in the winter. Go to the movies and watch all the films that were nominated for an Oscar and see what all the fuss is about. Or just watch The Lego Movie if you’re not feeling particularly cerebral. Enjoy a drink with friends (Randolph Pub is my new favorite spot to enjoy a drink and play a fun board game). There are also cultural activities that happen year round; museum exhibits, concerts and my new favorite, Paint Nite.

cards against humanity

And remember, the SAQ is your friend…


(img source –www.geotourisme.ca)

Unleashing my Inner Artist – Paint Nite at McKibbins, Montreal

Last night, I attended a Paint Nite®  event at McKibbins Irish pub. The event is a two hour painting party held at different venues around Montreal. It’s a great way to have a fun night and create art in a casual environment with friends and have a few drinks.

We were all given the exact same materials: a white canvas, paints and paint brushes.


The instructor taught us how to paint the image step by step starting from a blank canvas to the finished painting. He always emphasized that the instructions were more like guidelines and we should feel free to experiment with different colors and techniques.

Phase 1


Phase 2


The most amazing thing is that we were able to complete the painting. What`s even more amazing is that each person’s painting was different; a unique reflection of that individual’s personality.


I am quite proud of how my painting turned out. Of course I gave my hummingbird a mohawk!


It was a great creative experience and a fun night out. I highly recommend it! Check out www.paintnite.com for event dates and venues. Tip: Try to get a Groupon or LivingSocial deal.

My Top 5 Podcasts Countdown

I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts lately, partly because the radio sucks and I lost most of my music library, but mostly because podcasts are entertaining, informative and a great way to pass the time while I’m in the metro, at the gym, shopping, or walking around. I now have a few favorite podcasts that I listen to every week and I recommend that you check them out.

I use the Stitcher app which is great because I was able to create a playlist of my favorite podcasts and listen to episodes even when I’m offline, which is great for my commute in the metro. It’s available for free download for iOS and Android devices, the only devices that really matter (sorry I’m not sorry Blackberry and Windows).

Anyway, here is my Top 5 Podcasts Countdown (because why not?):

5. Old Time Radio Mysteries

Old TIme Radio Mystery

“Its a foggy night, a perfect night for a mystery. The unknown, your fears and those unexplained noises all make Mystery Stories come alive in those chilling tales as told by early radio.”

The Old Time Radio Mystery Podcast makes me nostalgic for an era that I didn’t actually live through. The stories are full of twists and turns and surprisingly good voice acting and sound effects, considering they were made in the 50’s.

Old Time Radio Mysteries on iTunes
Old Time Radio Mysteries on Stitcher

4. Ear Biscuits

Ear Biscuits Podcast with Rhett and Link

“Internetainers Rhett & Link have a weekly candid conversation with other creators who are making their mark in new media.”

Ear Biscuits is a podcast hosted by YouTubers Rhett and Link that dives into the full backstory of many of my favorite YouTubers like Grace Helbig , Hannah Hart, The Fine Bros, and Philip DeFranco. What I found interesting about this podcast is that all of these YouTubers share some common stories about their rise to success. They did not become successful accidently. It wasn’t one video that suddenly went viral. Rather, it was years of continuous work and iterations that made these YouTubers successful. The podcast also presented a fascinating insight into the early days of YouTube and how the platform and YouTubers have evolved over the years.

Ear Biscuits on iTunes
Ear Biscuits on Stitcher

3.  Freakonomics


“In their books “Freakonomics” and “SuperFreakonomics,” Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner explore “the hidden side of everything,” with stories about cheating schoolteachers, self-dealing real-estate agents, and crack-selling mama’s boys. The Freakonomics Radio podcast, hosted by Dubner, carries on that tradition with weekly episodes. Prepare to be enlightened, engaged, perhaps enraged, and definitely surprised.”

I look forward to the Freakonomics podcast every week. The topics are varied and always informative ranging from Are we ready to legalize drugs? to Who Are the Most Successful Immigrants in the World? about the Lebanese Diaspora. Every episode makes me think of the topic in a way that I never thought of before. I always learn something new and feel slightly smarter, which may or may not be the case.

Freakonomics on Stitcher
Freakonomics on iTunes

2. Chonilla


Chonilla.com Podcast (Part of The Chonilla Network) is a comedy no-holds-barred personal journal, blog and podcast hosted and presented by a fun at times real opinionated interracial couple Montrealers Clove and Sherley aka CHO & NILLA.”

Enjoy an entertaining conversation between hosts Clove and Sherley who talk about their week, funny incidents and news stories. Bonus points for representing my city of Montreal! What I like about this podcast is that the conversations are so natural and off the cuff that it feels like you are chilling with hosts Clove and Sherley. One of my favorite segments is “Bible Scriptures 90210” which breaks down the stories in the Bible into 90210 like episodes really highlighting some of the questionable stories and teachings from that time.

Chonilla on Stitcher
Chonilla on iTunes

1. Throwing Shade

Throwing Shade

“Comedians Erin Gibson and Bryan Safi take a weekly look at all the issues important to ladies and gays…and treat them with much less respect than they deserve.”

I find it extremely difficult to listen to this podcast without sporadic guffawing in public, which has gotten me strange looks, even though I do the fake cough thing at the end. Erin and Bryan (we are on a first name basis in my head, so it’s cool) are so quick witted and sarcastic while discussing many important and topical issues. You can also see clips of the duo on Funny or Die.

That's my book. It's called People Need to Learn and the first page just says

Talk to a dolphin, motherfucker! Dolphins are gay left and right

Throwing Shade on Stitcher
Throwing Shade on iTunes

Podcast pug: image source

Quora tackles the question: Starting from the very beginning, what happened in the Israel/Palestine area?

I recently stumbled upon a very interesting discussion on Quora (I think someone tweeted it but I can’t remember who!) The question that sparked the discussion was:

Starting from the very beginning, what happened in the Israel/Palestine area?
In terms that a 15-year-old can understand would be most desirable. I know that the Jews and Muslims had been living in this area for a very long time before Israel became an independent country, but so far the only history about the area that I’ve gotten is the EXTREMELY bias American side which consists of the Jews always being right and the Muslims always being this evil group of terrorists. Also, why does Iran call it “Zion” and why is it used as a hate term?

The answers were all fascinating including this historical summary by Mark Allen but my favorite was an answer posted by Tim Hodges which gives one historical view right after the world war.

“I don’t think that this answers it for a 15 year (maybe), but I recently read an essay written in 1947 by King Abdullah of Jordan that explained more about the situation than I had ever understood before. I quote it now in its entirety:

“As the Arabs see the Jews” – His Majesty King Abdullah, The American Magazine, November, 1947


This fascinating essay, written by King Hussein’s grandfather King Abdullah, appeared in the United States six months before the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. In the article, King Abdullah disputes the mistaken view that Arab opposition to Zionism (and later the state of Israel) is because of longstanding religious or ethnic hatred. He notes that Jews and Muslims enjoyed a long history of peaceful coexistence in the Middle East, and that Jews have historically suffered far more at the hands of Christian Europe. Pointing to the tragedy of the holocaust that Jews suffered during World War II, the monarch asks why America and Europe are refusing to accept more than a token handful of Jewish immigrants and refugees. It is unfair, he argues, to make Palestine, which is innocent of anti-Semitism, pay for the crimes of Europe. King Abdullah also asks how Jews can claim a historic right to Palestine, when Arabs have been the overwhelming majority there for nearly 1300 uninterrupted years? The essay ends on an ominous note, warning of dire consequences if a peaceful solution cannot be found to protect the rights of the indigenous Arabs of Palestine.

“As the Arabs see the Jews” –  His Majesty King Abdullah, The American Magazine, November, 1947

I am especially delighted to address an American audience, for the tragic problem of Palestine will never be solved without American understanding, American sympathy, American support.

So many billions of words have been written about Palestine—perhaps more than on any other subject in history—that I hesitate to add to them. Yet I am compelled to do so, for I am reluctantly convinced that the world in general, and America in particular, knows almost nothing of the true case for the Arabs

We Arabs follow, perhaps far more than you think, the press of America. We are frankly disturbed to find that for every word printed on the Arab side, a thousand are printed on the Zionist side.

There are many reasons for this. You have many millions of Jewish citizens interested in this question. They are highly vocal and wise in the ways of publicity. There are few Arab citizens in America, and we are as yet unskilled in the technique of modern propaganda.

The results have been alarming for us. In your press we see a horrible caricature and are told it is our true portrait. In all justice, we cannot let this pass by default.

Our case is quite simple: For nearly 2,000 years Palestine has been almost 100 percent Arab. It is still preponderantly Arab today, in spite of enormous Jewish immigration. But if this immigration continues we shall soon be outnumbered—a minority in our home.

Palestine is a small and very poor country, about the size of your state of Vermont. Its Arab population is only about 1,200,000. Already we have had forced on us, against our will, some 600,000 Zionist Jews. We are threatened with many hundreds of thousands more.

Our position is so simple and natural that we are amazed it should even be questioned. It is exactly the same position you in America take in regard to the unhappy European Jews. You are sorry for them, but you do not want them in your country.

We do not want them in ours, either. Not because they are Jews, but because they are foreigners. We would not want hundreds of thousands of  foreigners in our country, be they Englishmen or Norwegians or Brazilians or whatever.

Think for a moment: In the last 25 years we have had one third of our entire population forced upon us. In America that would be the equivalent of 45,000,000 complete strangers admitted to your country, over your violent protest, since 1921. How would you have reacted to that?

Because of our perfectly natural dislike of being overwhelmed in our own homeland, we are called blind nationalists and heartless anti-Semites. This charge would be ludicrous were it not so dangerous.

No people on earth have been less “anti-Semitic” than the Arabs. The persecution of the Jews has been confined almost entirely to the Christian nations of the West. Jews, themselves, will admit that never since the Great     Dispersion did Jews develop so freely and reach such importance as in Spain when it was an Arab possession. With very minor exceptions, Jews have lived for many centuries in the Middle East, in complete peace and friendliness with their Arab neighbours.

Damascus, Baghdad, Beirut and other Arab centres have always contained large and prosperous Jewish colonies. Until the Zionist invasion of Palestine began, these Jews received the most generous treatment—far, far better than in Christian Europe. Now, unhappily, for the first time in history, these Jews are     beginning to feel the effects of Arab resistance to the Zionist assault. Most of them are as anxious as Arabs to stop it. Most of these Jews who have found happy homes among us resent, as we do, the coming of these strangers.

I was puzzled for a long time about the odd belief which apparently persists in America that Palestine has somehow “always been a Jewish land.” Recently an American I talked to cleared up this mystery. He pointed out that     the only things most Americans know about Palestine are what they read in the Bible. It was a Jewish land in those days, they reason, and they assume it has always remained so.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. It is absurd to reach so far back into the mists of history to argue about who should have Palestine today, and I apologise for it. Yet the Jews do this, and I must reply to their “historic claim.” I wonder if the world has ever seen a stranger sight than a group of people seriously pretending to claim a land because their ancestors lived there some 2,000 years ago!

If you suggest that I am biased, I invite you to read any sound history of the period and verify the facts.

Such fragmentary records as we have indicate that the Jews were wandering nomads from Iraq who moved to southern Turkey, came south to Palestine, stayed there a short time, and then passed to Egypt, where they remained about 400 years. About 1300 BC (according to your calendar) they left Egypt and gradually conquered most—but not all—of the inhabitants of Palestine.

It is significant that the Philistines—not the Jews—gave their name to the country: “Palestine” is merely the Greek form of “Philistia.”

Only once, during the empire of David and Solomon, did the Jews ever control nearly—but not all—the land which is today Palestine. This empire lasted only 70 years, ending in 926 BC. Only 250 years later the Kingdom of Judah     had shrunk to a small province around Jerusalem, barely a quarter of modern Palestine.

In 63 BC the Jews were conquered by Roman Pompey, and never again had even the vestige of independence. The Roman Emperor Hadrian finally wiped them out about 135 AD. He utterly destroyed Jerusalem, rebuilt under another name, and for hundreds of years no Jew was permitted to enter it. A handful of Jews remained in     Palestine but the vast majority were killed or scattered to other countries, in the Diaspora, or the Great Dispersion. From that time Palestine ceased to be a Jewish country, in any conceivable sense.

This was 1,815 years ago, and yet the Jews solemnly pretend they still own Palestine! If such fantasy were allowed, how the map of the world would dance about!

Italians might claim England, which the Romans held so long. England might claim France, “homeland” of the conquering Normans. And the French Normans might claim Norway, where their ancestors originated. And incidentally, we Arabs might claim Spain, which we held for 700 years.

Many Mexicans might claim Spain, “homeland” of their forefathers. They might even claim Texas, which was Mexican until 100 years ago. And suppose the American Indians claimed the “homeland” of which they were the sole, native, and ancient occupants until only some 450 years ago!

I am not being facetious. All these claims are just as valid—or just as fantastic—as the Jewish “historic connection” with Palestine. Most are more valid.

In any event, the great Moslem expansion about 650 AD     finally settled things. It dominated Palestine completely. From that day on, Palestine was solidly Arabic in population, language, and religion. When British armies entered the country during the last war, they found 500,000 Arabs and only 65,000 Jews.

If solid, uninterrupted Arab occupation for nearly 1,300 years does not make a country “Arab”, what does?

The Jews say, and rightly, that Palestine is the home of their religion. It is likewise the birthplace of Christianity, but would any Christian nation claim it on that account? In passing, let me say that the Christian Arabs—and     there are many hundreds of thousands of them in the Arab World—are in absolute agreement with all other Arabs in opposing the Zionist invasion of Palestine.

May I also point out that Jerusalem is, after Mecca and Medina, the holiest place in Islam. In fact, in the early days of our religion, Moslems prayed toward Jerusalem instead of Mecca.

The Jewish “religious claim” to Palestine is as absurd as the “historic claim.” The Holy Places, sacred to three great religions, must be open to all, the monopoly of none. Let us not confuse religion and politics.

We are told that we are inhumane and heartless because do not accept with open arms the perhaps 200,000 Jews in Europe who suffered so frightfully under Nazi cruelty, and who even now—almost three years after war’s end—still languish in cold, depressing camps.

Let me underline several facts. The unimaginable persecution of the Jews was not done by the Arabs: it was done by a Christian nation in the West. The war which ruined Europe and made it almost impossible for these Jews to rehabilitate themselves was fought by the Christian nations of the West. The rich and empty portions of the earth belong, not to the Arabs, but to the Christian nations of the West.

And yet, to ease their consciences, these Christian nations of the West are asking Palestine—a poor and tiny Moslem country of the East—to accept the entire burden. “We have hurt these people terribly,” cries the West     to the East. “Won’t you please take care of them for us?”

We find neither logic nor justice in this. Are we therefore “cruel and heartless nationalists”?

We are a generous people: we are proud that “Arab hospitality” is a phrase famous throughout the world. We are a humane people: no one was shocked more than we by the Hitlerite terror. No one pities the present plight of the desperate European Jews more than we.

But we say that Palestine has already sheltered 600,000 refugees. We believe that is enough to expect of us—even too much. We believe it is now the turn of the rest of the world to accept some of them.

I will be entirely frank with you. There is one thing the Arab world simply cannot understand. Of all the nations of the earth, America is most insistent that something be done for these suffering Jews of Europe. This feeling does credit to the humanity for which America is famous, and to that glorious inscription on your Statue of Liberty.

And yet this same America—the richest, greatest, most powerful nation the world has ever known—refuses to accept more than a token handful of these same Jews herself!

I hope you will not think I am being bitter about this. I have tried hard to understand that mysterious paradox, and I confess I cannot. Nor can any other Arab.

Perhaps you have been informed that “the Jews in Europe want to go to no other place except Palestine.”

This myth is one of the greatest propaganda triumphs of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, the organisation which promotes with fanatic zeal the emigration to Palestine. It is a subtle half-truth, thus doubly dangerous.

The astounding truth is that nobody on earth really knows where these unfortunate Jews really want to go!

You would think that in so grave a problem, the American, British, and other authorities responsible for the European Jews would have made a very careful survey, probably by vote, to find out where each Jew actually wants to go. Amazingly enough this has never been done! The Jewish Agency has prevented it.

Some time ago the American Military Governor in Germany was asked at a press conference how he was so certain that all Jews there wanted to go to Palestine. His answer was simple: “My Jewish advisors tell me so.” He admitted no poll had ever been made. Preparations were indeed begun for one, but the Jewish Agency     stepped in to stop it.

The truth is that the Jews in German camps are now subjected to a Zionist pressure campaign which learned much from the Nazi terror. It is dangerous for a Jew to say that he would rather go to some other country, not Palestine. Such dissenters have been severely beaten, and worse.

Not long ago, in Palestine, nearly 1,000 Austrian Jews informed the international refugee organisation that they would like to go back to Austria, and plans were made to repatriate them.

The Jewish Agency heard of this, and exerted enough political pressure to stop it. It would be bad propaganda for Zionism if Jews began leaving Palestine. The nearly 1,000 Austrian are still there, against their will.

The fact is that most of the European Jews are Western in culture and outlook, entirely urban in experience and habits. They cannot really have their hearts set on becoming pioneers in the barren, arid, cramped land which is Palestine.

One thing, however, is undoubtedly true. As matters stand now, most refugee Jews in Europe would, indeed, vote for Palestine, simply because they know no other country will have them.

If you or I were given a choice between a near-prison camp for the rest of our lives—or Palestine—we would both choose Palestine, too.

But open up any other alternative to them—give them any other choice, and see what happens!

No poll, however, will be worth anything unless the nations of the earth are willing to open their doors—just a little—to the Jews. In other words, if in such a poll a Jew says he wants to go to Sweden, Sweden must be willing to accept him. If he votes for America, you must let him come in.

Any other kind of poll would be a farce. For the desperate Jew, this is no idle testing of opinion: this is a grave matter of life or death. Unless he is absolutely sure that his vote means something, he will always vote for Palestine, so as not to risk his bird in the hand for one in the bush.

In any event, Palestine can accept no more. The 65,000 Jews in Palestine in 1918 have jumped to 600,000 today. We Arabs have increased, too, but not by immigration. The Jews were then a mere 11 per cent of our population. Today they are one third of it.

The rate of increase has been terrifying. In a few more years—unless stopped now—it will overwhelm us, and we shall be an important minority in our own home.

Surely the rest of the wide world is rich enough and generous enough to find a place for 200,000 Jews—about one third the number that tiny, poor Palestine has already sheltered. For the rest of the world, it is hardly a drop in the bucket. For us it means national suicide.

We are sometimes told that since the Jews came to Palestine, the Arab standard of living has improved. This is a most complicated question. But let us even assume, for the argument, that it is true. We would rather be a bit poorer, and masters of our own home. Is this unnatural?

The sorry story of the so-called “Balfour Declaration,” which started Zionist immigration into Palestine, is too complicated to repeat here in detail. It is grounded in broken promises to the Arabs—promises made in cold print which admit no denying.

We utterly deny its validity. We utterly deny the right of Great Britain to give away Arab land for a “national home” for an entirely foreign people.

Even the League of Nations sanction does not alter this. At the time, not a single Arab state was a member of the League. We were not allowed to say a word in our own defense.

I must point out, again in friendly frankness, that America was nearly as responsible as Britain for this Balfour Declaration. President Wilson approved it before it was issued, and the American Congress adopted it word for word in a joint resolution on 30th June, 1922.

In the 1920s, Arabs were annoyed and insulted by Zionist immigration, but not alarmed by it. It was steady, but fairly small, as even the Zionist founders thought it would remain. Indeed for some years, more Jews left Palestine than entered it—in 1927 almost twice as many.

But two new factors, entirely unforeseen by Britain or the League or America or the most fervent Zionist, arose in the early thirties to raise the immigration to undreamed heights. One was the World Depression; the second the rise of Hitler.

In 1932, the year before Hitler came to power, only 9,500 Jews came to Palestine. We did not welcome them, but we were not afraid that, at that rate, our solid Arab majority would ever be in danger.

But the next year—the year of Hitler—it jumped to 30,000! In 1934 it was 42,000! In 1935 it reached 61,000!

It was no longer the orderly arrival of idealist Zionists. Rather, all Europe was pouring its frightened Jews upon us. Then, at last, we, too, became frightened. We knew that unless this enormous influx stopped, we were, as Arabs, doomed in our Palestine homeland. And we have not changed our minds.

I have the impression that many Americans believe the trouble in Palestine is very remote from them, that America had little to do with it, and that your only interest now is that of a humane bystander.

I believe that you do not realise how directly you are, as a nation, responsible in general for the whole Zionist move and specifically for the present terrorism. I call this to your attention because I am certain that if you realise your responsibility you will act fairly to admit it and assume it.

Quite aside from official American support for the “National Home” of the Balfour Declaration, the Zionist settlements in Palestine would have been almost impossible, on anything like the current scale, without American money. This was contributed by American Jewry in an idealistic effort to help their fellows.

The motive was worthy: the result were disastrous. The contributions were by private individuals, but they were almost entirely Americans, and, as a nation, only America can answer for it.

The present catastrophe may be laid almost entirely at your door. Your government, almost alone in the world, is insisting on the immediate admission of 100,000 more Jews into Palestine—to be followed by countless additional ones. This will have the most frightful consequences in bloody chaos beyond anything ever hinted at in Palestine before.

It is your press and political leadership, almost alone in the world, who press this demand. It is almost entirely American money which hires or buys the “refugee ships” that steam illegally toward Palestine: American money which pays their crews. The illegal immigration from Europe is arranged by the Jewish Agency, supported almost entirely by American funds. It is American dollars which support the  terrorists, which buy the bullets and pistols that kill British soldiers—your allies—and Arab citizens—your friends.

We in the Arab world were stunned to hear that you permit open advertisements in newspapers asking for money to finance these terrorists, to arm them openly and deliberately for murder. We could not believe this could really happen in the modern world. Now we must believe it: we have seen the advertisements with our own eyes.

I point out these things because nothing less than complete frankness will be of use. The crisis is too stark for mere polite vagueness which means nothing.

I have the most complete confidence in the fair-mindedness and generosity of the American public. We Arabs ask no favours. We ask only that you know the full truth, not half of it. We ask only that when you judge the Palestine question, you put yourselves in our place.

What would your answer be if some outside agency told you that you must accept in America many millions of utter strangers in your midst—enough to dominate your country—merely because they insisted on going to America, and because their forefathers had once lived there some 2,000 years ago?

Our answer is the same.

And what would be your action if, in spite of your refusal, this outside agency began forcing them on you?

Ours will be the same.”




Why be Happy When you Could be Normal?

I just finished reading “Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?” by Jeanette Winterson. The book is about Winterson’s childhood, her lifelong struggle to find happiness and her tumultuous relationship with her mother. What I loved most about the book was not so much the story but the flashes of wisdom embedded in the story; powerful sentences that forced me to reflect on my own experience and have interesting discussions with some friends.

On feelings and thoughts
“There is still a popular fantasy, long since disproved by both psychoanalysis and science, and never believed by any poet or mystic, that it is possible to have a thought without a feeling. It isn’t. When we are objective we are subjective too. When we are neutral we are involved. When we say ‘I think’ we don’t leave our emotions outside the door. To tell someone not to be emotional is to tell them to be dead.”

The quote above sparked an hour long discussion with a psychologist friend of mine. Can we truly have an objective thought devoid of emotion? Or are all of our thoughts intertwined with emotions?

On feelings avoidance
“I know our feelings can be so unbearable that we employ ingenious strategies – unconscious strategies – to keep those feelings away. We do a feelings-swap, where we avoid feeling sad or lonely or afraid or inadequate, and feel angry instead. It can work the other way, too – sometimes you do need to feel angry, not inadequate; sometimes you do need to feel love and acceptance, and not the tragic drama of your life. It takes courage to feel the feeling – and not trade it on the feelings-exchange, or even transfer it altogether to another person.”  

Another quote about how much emotions, or avoiding emotions, control and influence behaviors. It is ok to feel sad or lonely or scared, but it is not ok to be consumed by that emotion and not move past it.

On time This quote brings to mind the saying “it seems like only yesterday” because based on our perception it feels like only yesterday. We experience life as a series of intertwined and overlapping events as opposed to a linear sequence. 
So Why be Happy When you Could be Normal? is a nice easy read. Though the story is pretty sad,  those little reflections made it enjoyable. 

On education
“I did not realize that when money becomes core value, then education drives towards utility without the life of the mind will not be counted as a good unless produces measurable results.

Should education be solely based on utility or should it be a transfer of the culmination of aggregated human knowledge? I have had this discussion with some friends who majored in liberal art. As a business major, I am inclined to say that education should be a combination of both utility and knowledge. While education should never be completely utility based, and should include art, philosophy, history, humanities, it is important that education provide a means of supporting oneself. If business majors have to hustle to find a job to support themselves, art majors have to hustle 10 times more than that to pursue their art. What aggravates me is the sense of entitlement and laziness of some liberal art majors who do not want to put in the gut wrenching effort it takes to truly be an artist and be self reliant.

On time“I measure time as we all do, and partly by the fading body, but in order to challenge linear time, I try and live in total time. I recognize that life has an inside as well as an outside and that events separated by years lie side by side imaginatively and emotionally.” 

This quote brought to mind the saying ” it seems like only yesterday” when an experience feels so vivid as if it happened just yesterday. We experience time more as intertwining and overlapping moments rather than a linear progression of events.

Why be Happy when you Could be Normal? is a good read. Though the story is a bit sad, those reflective parts make it worthwhile.

خبر عاجل – تعرض مجموعة من البندورة إلى الاعتداء اليوم

تعرضت مجموعة من البندورة إلى الضرب اليوم  من قبل متظاهرين وشبابيك سيارات النواب. و دانت جمعية الرفق بالخضار والفواكه الاعتداء الوحشي على مجموعة بريئة من البندورة التي لا شأن لها في الصراع السياسي في لبنان.  

But I Have Not Yet Gone to College

Hugh Gallagher’s college application essay that won him a national writing award and got him into NYU. Inspiring creativity and humor.

Are there any significant experiences you have had, or accomplishments you have realized, that have helped to define you as a person?
I am a dynamic figure, often seen scaling walls and crushing ice. I have been known to remodel train stations on my lunch breaks, making them more efficient in the area of heat retention. I translate ethnic slurs for Cuban refugees, I write award-winning operas, I manage time efficiently. Occasionally, I tread water for three days in a row.
I woo women with my sensuous and godlike trombone playing, I can pilot bicycles up severe inclines with unflagging speed, and I cook Thirty-Minute Brownies in twenty minutes. I am an expert in stucco, a veteran in love, and an outlaw in Peru.
Using only a hoe and a large glass of water, I once single-handedly defended a small village in the Amazon Basin from a horde of ferocious army ants. I play bluegrass cello, I was scouted by the Mets. I am the subject of numerous documentaries. When I’m bored, I build large suspension bridges in my yard. I enjoy urban hang gliding. On Wednesdays, after school, I repair electrical appliances free of charge.
I am an abstract artist, a concrete analyst, and a ruthless bookie. Critics worldwide swoon over my original line of corduroy evening wear. I don’t perspire. I am a private citizen, yet I receive fan mail. I have been caller number nine and have won the weekend passes. Last summer I toured New Jersey with a traveling centrifugal-force demonstration. I bat 400. My deft floral arrangements have earned me fame in international botany circles. Children trust me.
I can hurl tennis rackets at small moving objects with deadly accuracy. I once read Paradise Lost, Moby Dick, and David Copperfield in one day and still had time to refurbish an entire dining room that evening. I know the exact location of every food item in the supermarket. I sleep once a week; when I do sleep, I sleep in a chair. While on vacation in Canada, I successfully negotiated with a group of terrorists who had seized a small bakery. The laws of physics do not apply to me.
I balance, I weave, I dodge, I frolic, and my bills are all paid. On weekends, to let off steam, I participate in full-contact origami. Years ago I discovered the meaning of life but forgot to write it down. I have made extraordinary four-course meals using only a Mouli and a toaster oven. I breed prize-winning clams. I have won bullfights in San Juan, cliff-diving competitions in Sri Lanka, and spelling bees at the Kremlin. I have played Hamlet, I have performed open-heart surgery, and I have spoken with Elvis.
But I have not yet gone to college.