Your money is safe here.
With the Qadhafi regime dissolving in Tripoli and the revolutionary forces ready to take over the country, I keep thinking about a conversation I had in Istanbul six months ago that I think exemplifies the problem of Middle East “experts” these days.
I was just back from the uprising in Cairo and high on revolutionary fervor, but I was planning on staying in Turkey indefinitely and needed a way to make money besides flailing around trying to do freelance journalism about a country I don’t know very well at a time when everyone’s attention was focused elsewhere.
I swallowed my pride and applied for a position as a “researcher” at a company that writes reports on countries in the Global South to help capitalists in the Global North decide where to invest. (There are, for some reason, a number of firms that do this kind of research in Istanbul and I won’t name which I applied to.) With my experience in Egypt, I was going to work on their North Africa desk.
I went in for an interview with the head of their Africa division. I told him my thoughts on Egypt and Tunisia (whatever my thoughts were at that point…) and then the conversation turned to Libya. I believe that this was on February 19, two days after the protests started in Benghazi. Protests were also heating up in Bahrain and Yemen. I told this person interviewing me that I didn’t know much about Libya, but I questioned the Qadhafi regime’s stability and I thought that the revolutions were spread.
“No,” the Africa expert said. “Benghazi flares up like this every once in a while and then it gets quieted down. People’s investments in Libya are safe.”
Six months later, crazy Qadhafi is almost gone, added to the (I hope growing) list of Arab dictators whose time has finally come in 2011. Many people in the business of making predictions, the “experts” on whom so many businesspeople and journalists and politicians rely, are, or at least should be, kicking themselves for their inability to see the fundamental instability of the Arab dictatorship model.
I hope that the same guy is now telling people how safe their money is in Syria.
Here’s a pretty ugly video that’s been circulating on many of the blogs that I read. It shows a bunch of drunk, stupid American Jews in Israel incoherently trashing President Obama and his Muslim sympathies.
For someone like Phil Weiss or As’ad Abu Khalil this, can be pointed to and treated like a serious example of Zionist racism or Jewish chauvinism or whatever. But let’s be honest here. Drunk assholes are drunk assholes and you can find them anywhere in the world saying equally stupid things. I remember seeing a lot of these types when I was in Jerusalem, nineteen year olds stumbling down Ben Yehuda Street trying to pick fights and hitting on other people’s girlfriends. They are not worth making a point out of.
When this happens in Las Vegas it’s not news, but in Israel-Palestine it’s a pretty good story. (Via the Palestine News Twitter Feed.) A Tel Aviv stripper got drunk on Thursday night and woke up in Ramallah on Friday morning.
Palestinians called the offices of the Civil Administration Friday morning and reported that an Israeli woman in her twenties was seen at the heart of town. “They said that she didn’t quite understand what was going on,” said Major Shadi Seif of the Ramallah District Coordination Office.
“She smelled of alcohol, was confused and said that she left a strip club in Tel Aviv last night and got into a car with several men. She doesn’t remember anything that happened after that, only that she woke up this morning in Ramallah, and even this she only found out after several minutes,” Seif said.
Luckily she was fine. It’s dangerous when anyone gets wasted and wakes up somewhere without remembering what happened. I suppose it’s probably a little more dangerous if you are an Israeli woman and you wake up in Ramallah. It’s still a pretty good story.
This Israeli Air Force almost shot down Tony Blair’s plane the other day while he was on his way from Sharm el Sheikh to Bethlehem. “But wait,” you might be saying, “isn’t Tony Blair the international envoy who has been charged with finding a peaceful solution to the Middle East’s problem!?”
The answer is yes, he is. But, you know, these things happen. Read the whole story here.
(Also, I have no idea what that picture is from. I found it by Googling “Israeli fighter jet”. It’s sweet, though, right?)