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Monday, September 15, 2014

Interviews during the Libyan uprising 2011 - 2012

My interview during the Libyan Revolution

My interview during Libyan revolution 2

Interview about US ambassador's killing in Benghazi, Libya

Interview about life under gaddafi

The Moving Frontlines II - The President has Spoken, Long Live the President


Driving through ‘intersections’ has become a hobby of mine; our landscape is my therapy and inspiration. On the eve of 9/11 and for the President’s address to the Nation, however, I chose the confines of my cluttered and somewhat dusty home fitting for the speech and reminiscent of the subject and an ancestral land long gone to the hyenas.

Mr. Obama wove a fine tale with his professionally scripted speech but at the end of it, I had more questions than answers and I was laden with a sickening feeling that this conflict we will bear for generations to come.

He outlined his strategy to ‘degrade and ultimately destroy’ ISIS; he will maintain his airstrikes and expand them, too late, into Syria, he will help consult on ground operations by sending an additional 475 ‘military advisors’, he will protect the minorities and send them aid, and he will do all that with the support of his allies and puppet states while arming an undisclosed Syrian opposition group. Oh, I forget to mention that “our technology companies and universities are unmatched” bolstered by the ongoing influx of brain drain and “our manufacturing and auto industries are thriving” shipping their productions offshore while drowning under safety recalls.

The President has spoken; long live the President!

The speech garnered support on both sides of the debate and although no implementation details were uncovered, it did reignite our bravado and patriotism. The speech was heard all over the parched land of Iraq, Syria, and beyond too. It comforted the oppressed majority in their unseen plight and it emboldened the minorities at the forefront of the extremists’ inhuman attacks.

What was said and what is planned, however, do not address the fundamental root cause. In my humble opinion, the internet connected youths of these nations are hopeless in their quicksand and their despots are reigning, with archaic iron fists used discriminately, thus feeding the ISIS like groups. If ISIS is destroyed, other acronyms with the same twisted agenda will pop up because like seeds, they are sown and watered by the fascist like regimes under which they germinate. If they are simply driven out of Iraq and Syria, as they have been from Afghanistan, they will find roots in Libya’s top soil and other countries on the verge of collapse. This is already happening.

What we need is to gradually pull the carpet from underneath the current serpents of the Middle East and to instead dump a fraction of the current billions, used to polish their scales, on those who deserve it most; the jobless, futureless, hopeless, angry and yet internet savvy youths. Investing in factories overseas, even if the output is disposed of, is better and cheaper than the constant shipments of armaments. Forming outreach syndicates to engage the youth and inspire them is better than getting in bed with their cavity. Planning for the long term with our interest in mind is better than the Band-Aid used to cover a wound needing stitches.

The Moving Frontlines I

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Not a care in the world, beside the ordinary, transgresses my thoughts as I drive down a quiet country road in the heart of the American Midwest. I look up and in my rear view mirror I catch a glimpse of a recent past green with grass, undulating hills, serpentine river,  and a sun set worthy of only the American Heartland; heavens on Earth. Yes, heaven indeed; we are placated by two great oceans on either side, a sister country to the north, and a southern step-sister whose slippers we confiscated. Peace abounds but for the occasional Michael Brown; a trivial matter blown out of proportions.

I say ‘trivial’ not in the slightest way as I ache for those currently left behind or standing beside their loved ones in a Ferguson, Missouri, ripped apart by a stirring dormant beast of race. The word ‘trivial’ is, however, fitting, in comparison to the hell that’s befallen the human race outside our boundaries; the apocalyptic wave that seems to engulf the rest of the world.

As I look to my immediate future and the next intersection I have to cross, I wonder about our safety and if we are, indeed, far removed from the lurking danger. The Oceans have served us well in the past in keeping the enemy at bay; Pearl Harbor and September 11 being the notable exceptions. Will the wide expanse of water keep us out of harm’s way? Will they sweep away the home grown extremists to whom we afforded safe-haven but from whom we garner no sympathy?

The answer to both questions is a blatant no! But please, do not point finger at anyone because collectively we have welcomed their presence while marginalizing them, and most importantly, radicalizing their US born children and pushing the latter in search of martyrdom! Will we be able to detect from among our own those battle hardened jihadists and brain washed youth coming back home with physical and mental training in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria? Some are already back; their ideologies, foreign to America and the Muslim majority are spreading, like cancer, among the disillusioned.

I know; I am one of them but I am among the forgotten Muslims that do not count but are constantly warding off the stares, the ‘where from’ questions, and the sly comments we and our children are bombarded with. I will never forget the tearful question of my teen daughter when the Boston Marathon ‘earthquake’ hit her school; “why do they hate us so much?” was her question. I had no easy answer to the evil act of the home grown ‘brothers’ nor to the grief of the school community drowning my daughter in her own shared grief.  

What are we to do? Panicking, rebelling indiscriminately, or even internment camps are not the answer but neither is the ‘laissez faire’ of the moment. Our President, for whom I casted my vote, is a lame duck but so are the giants of the Republican party as their elephants bicker amongst each other. Our human rights advocates and those opposed to the NSA wiretapping are not helping either as their whining will only protect those that have something to hide and not the innocent who might end up paying the ultimate price.

We need to balance the equation but err on the safer side. We need not ask “what our country is doing for us”, but rather how are we to sustain our heaven of green pastures and peace of mind?

The next time I find myself in line at a public event, I will hug my children a bit tighter, I will be tolerant but watchful, and I will remember to vote for those candidates who love America for they “breathe in liberty but exhale long term patriotism!”
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This is a piece I wrote for the "Springfield NewsLeader" Sunday August 30th, 2014, issue (http://www.news-leader.com/story/opinion/contributors/2014/08/31/despite-troubles-us-remains-haven/14847487/).
A discussion ensued online with one of the top commentators, Laura; interesting read. Although I appreciated her comments, I was frustrated by her narrow sightedness, a phenomenon common among Americans. I wonder if my piece would have been taken in the same breath in other countries?
For your convenience, I have copied and pasted the aforementioned discussions.

 





  • Laura Tennison · Top Commenter · Springfield, Missouri
    “Peace abounds but for the occasional Michael Brown; a trivial matter blown out of proportions”. At least four unarmed black men have been killed under disputed circumstances by police just in the past month. We should be outraged. You don’t see the connection that goes all the way back to Amadu Diallo?

    Our country is imploding with “home-grown extremists”, and the horror is that they don’t look like Arabs. Where do you think the “radicalizing” of Muslim children begins? Gaza, US drone killing of innocents, US torture war crimes

    The 9/11 bombers who still lurk at your “intersections” were radicalized by US support of client Israel’s horrific treatment of Palestinians, the several hundred thousand Iraqi children who died after the Persian Gulf War as a result of US sanctions, and the US military presence in Saudi Arabia holy land (Bush ultimately removed the bases but Obama brought them back).

    And we should not suffer fools gladly who refer to those who oppose the NSA spying as “whiners”…”laissez faire of the moment”? Who else do you want the US to bomb? What other legitimate foreign elected leader do you want the US to oust? What other group of jihadists do you want the US to arm? Is that “exuding patriotism”?



    • Hala Gheriani · Works at Federal Reserve Bank
      Laura,
      My piece is not dismissing the injustices in this country nor is it supporting the US government's subsidies of corrupt foreign leaders.. I know better. Michael Brown's triviality is ONLY in comparison to the carnage happening overseas and I make that clear in my text.
      It is a piece reflecting on my personal experiences and how we can protect it by being proactive and voting for those who plan for the long run instead of the next election. It is a piece calling for inclusion and accountability. It is a piece dealing with a specific growing threat, among many others. The beheading of Mr. Foley, a US citizen, by a "homegrown" UK citizen should have rang the bells for you. I believe that once the US is done bombing the existence out of terror overseas (not to mention the collateral damage), the defeated but not vanquished U...S terrorists will come back home and they will not be idle collecting disability.
      I believe in our justice system albeit not the executors and we must raise our voices or it is only going to get worst.
      As for the spying business and in the face of what is coming our way, often because of our own doing, I am not opposed to it with the current oversight and rules of conduct. The Germans are probably, right now, spying on Obama although they did ride the wave of discontent.
      The rules of engagement is changing and we better spend our billions right here at home on education, health care, social services, and if we feel generous, we could spend our money in factories overseas to give those youth hope for a better future rather than keep on feeding their despot and their Washington DC lobbyists.
      I may not have answered all your questions but I certainly tried to answer my conscience in light of what you have brought up.
      Thank you.
      Hala Gheriani

      P.S: The 1 sentence summary the NewsLeader inserted at the beginning of my piece is misleading and was upsetting to me because it set the readers on the wrong tracks but what is done is done and there are greater fights out there. My title was "The Moving Front Lines" and that may have gotten your good graces...at least initially :)
      See More



    • Laura Tennison · Top Commenter · Springfield, Missouri
      “Peace abounds but for the occasional Michael Brown; a trivial matter blown out of proportions”.

      You set the tone right there for the local audience—your neighbors and mine who like nothing better than marginalizing the plight of black people. You could have made your point without carelessly invoking, and thereby exploiting “Michael Brown”.

      “Will we be able to detect, from among our own, those battle-hardened soldiers and youths coming back home indoctrinated in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria? Some are already here, seeped in foreign ideologies to America and its Muslims. They are recruiting among the disillusioned and, like a cancer, they are infecting the vulnerable while fooling their neighbors and even loved ones”.

      Please defend your statement, and your implication, with several reliable sources.

      “As for the spying business and in the face of what is coming our way, often because of our own doing, I am not opposed to it with the current oversight and rules of conduct”.

      Who in the world has convinced you to feel secure in the “current oversight”? On the one hand, you're overly fearful about American soldiers becoming jihadists, but you blow off the highly toxic US spying? Again, what are your sources?



    • Hala Gheriani · Works at Federal Reserve Bank
      Laura,
      You are reading my script out of context and your repeated isolation of my 15 words out of 500 do not summarize my piece.
      Let me remind you, once more, that right after the aforementioned 15 words, my transcript reads: "I write "trivial," but not in the slightest way, as I ache for those left behind [Michael's family] or standing beside their loved ones [the officer's family]. The word "trivial" is fitting, however, in comparison to the hell that's befallen the human race outside our borders."

      I do not "carelessly" use my words and it is the looters whom "exploited" Michael Brown and defied his family's wishes. I am thus "setting the tone" only if you chose to comprehend my transcript one line at a time with complete disregard to the body and the global reality's far reaches right here at home.

      You are not giving our ..."local audience" enough credit and I actually sense a bit of haughtiness (forgive me if I have erred) but if my piece got "your neighbors and mine who like nothing better than marginalizing the plight of black people" to thinking about Blacks even though my piece was not about Blacks, then I consider it a blessing in disguise because you only can change people by engaging them. You are not going to change my neighbors and yours if you keep the lid on because their kids are infecting yours and marginalizing mine at school and on the play grounds! I am speaking from personal experience.

      You then pluck a paragraph comfortably nestled, yet again, between its arteries, and you ask me to defend it and my implications with "several reliable sources" and you are confused with my acceptance of the "highly toxic US spying" while being "overly fearful about American soldiers becoming jihadists"…Madam, I think we operate on different plateaus and it is either my amateur writing or your myopic views of this article that are at fault. The referenced "battle-hardened soldiers and youths coming back home" I point out in my article are "the home-grown extremists" and the radicalized children pushed "in search of martyrdom" that I had mentioned in previous paragraphs and not our uniformed men and women. The latter are already coming home hostages of their Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder and an under-funded Veterans' health system; they do not need to be further saddled with suspicion for their altruistic 'servitude'.
      Reliable sources are aplenty and not a day passes by without a reputable news organization reporting on my statements and their implications but none as fresh as this morning's NPR Morning Edition program titled "Jihadi Recruiters Taylor Their Message to Online Trends" (http://www.npr.org/2014/09/02/345158363/jihadi-recruiters-taylor-their-message-to-what-s-trending-online). This is my message, in a nutshell, eloquently put and aired by NPR.
      I would also like to bring to your attention another troubling phenomenon, in line with what I wrote, in the following article, towards which we, in the USA, are progressing: "Cameron Seeks To Expand Terrorism Laws To Target British Fighters" (http://www.npr.org/2014/09/02/345158356/cameron-seeks-to-expand-terrorism-laws-to-target-british-fighters) The UK and Europe are at the forefront in this struggle/prosecution; we are next unless we engage our youth and vulnerable with grass root outreach efforts as suggested by Mr. Rafiq in that first NPR Morning Edition segment.
      See More



    • Ed Rock · Top Commenter
      Hala Gheriani: "You are reading my script out of context and your repeated isolation of my 15 words out of 500 do not summarize my piece."

      The 15 words in question are in your piece, and were quoted with accuracy.

      End of story.



    • Hala Gheriani · Works at Federal Reserve Bank
      "Quoted with accuracy" yes but OUT of context and with complete disregard to the following sentences. Michael Brown's shooting is on everyone's mind no doubt and justice will prevail but it does not preclude the apocalyptic events with greater reach happening overseas and threatening to engulf us if we do not become actively involved in the drafting of our legislature and its application without forgoing grassroot social movements and media.



    • Ed Rock · Top Commenter
      Hala Gheriani: " 'Quoted with accuracy' yes but OUT of context ..."

      You are the context of what you say.

      Deaths by violence are never trivial, whether they are surrounded by controversy or not surrounded by controversy.

      You turned a person into an incident or a category, in your words if not in your 'heart.'



    • Hala Gheriani · Works at Federal Reserve Bank
      I stand by my words in their entirety and without any hidden meaning not bit and pieces; a puzzle is only complete when all its pieces are correctly connected...one just might miss Waldo. Michael Brown is an incident to all but his beloved family...the question is "what are you doing about it?" since you are so vested (?) in his person. No need to answer as I won't be bouncing the ball back and forth. Think about it as I shall.



    • Laura Tennison · Top Commenter · Springfield, Missouri
      Hala Gheriani “The referenced ‘battle-hardened soldiers and youths (indoctrinated in Afghanistan) coming back home’ I point out in my article are ‘the home-grown extremists’…”

      I just don’t get it. Like who? The isolated Timothy McVey?

      “ if my piece got ‘your neighbors and mine …’ to thinking about Blacks even though my piece was not about Blacks”

      Good grief. Does that balance out your carelessness in objectifying Michael Brown as your triviality foil right at the beginning of your article?



    • Hala Gheriani · Works at Federal Reserve Bank
      Laura Tennison ,

      Timothy McVey is a terrorist of a different sort but under the correct circumstances, he too could have been recruited to the jihadist cause. I am talking about those radicalized men and women who are brainwashed in the US, sent to fight (and preferably earn martyrdom) for their 'cause', but end up coming back home to the States unchanged; defeated but not vanquished.
      I went looking for support of the above from a 'reliable' source to support what I know, per your request, and I came across another article this morning titled "Jihad Interrupted: Feds Grab ISIS Wannabes before they reach Syria" (http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/isis-terror/jihad-interrupted-feds-grab-isis-wannabes-they-reach-syria-n195171). In this article, they highlight the young men and woman who were intercepted on their way to Syria but it ...also talks about the terrorists' recruits (youth with no hope). This article talks about the 'Shannon' and the 'Morgan' but how about the youth whose roots extend in the Middle East who may be going to their ancestral land to 'just' visit family?
      Again, this morning on BBC they were talking about the above youth back from Syria, in the UK. ==> these kids and the ones in the US need a social system to adopt them not further alienate them while we still have a chance. It is our responsibilities to engage them along with all the other minorities and disenfranchised to sooth their aches, fill-in their void, and answer their unanswered questions...we can't count on the government to do that, we need to step up to the plate and offer those services.

      As for Michael Brown, I used his name because he was on my mind as well as every one else's mind while the media is racking in advertising money with all the hoopla they created and incited. I am not blind to race because 'other' is usually my preferred and pointed out choice. If the big story of the day was about a cat, I would then have referenced it instead. The point I make is: "As bad as it is, it is still better than what is happening overseas but we also need to be more engaged and vote in those who walk their talk".

      Hala
      See More

     


Sunday, June 2, 2013

The lost generation of Libya

Not old enough to retire, not young enough to start all over.  Damn if
we do, damn if we don't; we are the bridge between the old and the new
and neither is tolerant of our tainted ways.  We continue to be the
ghosts of our forebearers and the fuel for generations to come  We are
seeing the specters of the past and the surety of our present.  We wish
to surrender but there is no victor in sight, we are dissected by our
roots in Libya and the foliage-ladden branches that have sprouted
overseas.

We were raised in a glass castle with the dying whispers of what could
have been.  We have a taste of our bitter-sweet waning dawn and the
back breaking struggle to survive and ultimatly escape our nightly cycle of
rebirth to finally find Nirvana  We are like the dafodils that endured
the harsh winter and managed to sprout just to be harvested for the
sole purpose of decoration.

We are the lost generation of Libyans who were born at the brink of
gadaffi's evil scheme, we are the ones who, in tow to their parents,
left Libya old enough to remember but not young enough to embrace the
new.  We are treated as foreigner when we go to Libya because of our
apparent bewilderment just to be called prehistorics when we make it a
point to stick to the Libyan language clear of any "yeah", "ok", and
"no"...the slang has changed and we did not get the memo.
We are treated like exotic samples by our new compatriots because of
our "gorgeous olive skin not prone to burn in the sun" and the ever
slight and misleading accent that is not quiet "Arabe", for those in
the know, not quiet "French", not quiet "Greek" but rather an amalgam
and trail of our complicated lives.  I had a friend, once, who told me
in a most sincere way and with no malignant sentiments "you immigrants
(forgetting his own roots) are becoming harder to distinguish with all
this globalization and all...".  I had to laugh and supress my hurt
feelings of having been lumped within that category, with a simple
shake of the head and a "didn't you know 'we' set the stage to
globalization...our autocrates invented diaspora and america's brain-drains
are fueling its progenitors" ... I don't think my friend got the
metaphors or my intended rebuff to his 'redneck' and egoistic self.

Such is our lives. We lived with and loved our parents who never
settled because "sayoor el ghareeb eblada" (Libyan proverb and exiles'
living motto meaning "the destiny of a stranger is his country") but
yet we grew up drinking the ethos of a host country for which we pledge
allegiance despite its unmeant but nevertheless discouraging efforts to
our assimilation...a complex oxymoron of pull and push.



Friday, May 31, 2013

The melting pot of oil and water

"Black, White, Yellow, and Red" this was my answer when the Anthropology professor asked the freshmen class to name the human races. 
The class did not laugh but my anthropology professor laughed so hard that his tears were creating rivers on his face amidst our drowned looks . 
"Wrong" he yelled, "African American, White, Asian, and American Indian is the correct answer".
I had the good sense not to correct the subject expert but my humble mind labored over my public humiliation for over two decades and I can yet to differentiate our answers although my maturity and seasoned American way has shed some light on the absurdity of the moment.
Maybe, my politically correct professor was not laughing at my answer but rather at my uncensored and honest reply uninhibited by the affirmative action folks who will eventually get under my skin as well. 
I was a freshly arrived foreign student and this affinity to submit to the order of the day was yet to be instilled.
In the Muslim world, where I come from, we say that "we are all the slaves of God" and yet in our colloquial language we refer to dark skinned individuals by the word "slaves" even though we are not much lighter than them and we share many of their features...hypocrisy at its best or is it human nature and the desire to be correct, under threat? 
Think about it. I have and I am tempted to blame our human nature and our willingness to conform.  Isn't that what the German people did under Hitler?  Isn't that what Obama, our black president, raised by a white woman, did when he lost his negro to be elected? Does that make it correct? Are we losing our humanity in an effort to gloss the obvious and benefit from our membership?
My overly friendly neighbors are welcoming to us and yet their truck is adorned with the confederate flag.  Our black friends are friendly to us and yet we don't get invited to their summer camps because "it is a Christian gathering".  We train our teachers about diversity and yet the superintended of our school explains "the relationship between a Muslim and Islam" like being "an American and a Christian". 
The examples abound and the solution is obvious but people will continue dancing to the beat of the moment and to the unfulfilled rewards of the equality mirage which we wholeheartedly contradict.
It is a sad day when I hear of more labels popping out and people being divided by this invisible line that is supposedly meant to bring them together.  I asked a friend of mine if a mutual friend of ours was Christian; she said "No, she is Catholic".  I was surprised at her answer but I am glad I did not brag about my religion because, only yesterday, the Shia and Sunni factions of Islam are dividing Syria and both sides are killing their fellow Muslims.  A close look at any religion will prove futile to any warring factions because all religions subscribe to peace and yet the young desperate men continue to bend under the will of powerful leaders and to find release for their suppressed testosterone...
People are turning against each other and they are hard pressed to offer forgiveness for the price of war, instead, someone out there, usually a third party, is getting rich and their goals are being served. 
In this country, it is not yet a raging war and the devil is busy with easier and more lucrative markets overseas but I sense it and it is coming in my children's life time when they will take refuge from their neighbors or even be moved to concentration camps for their likes because they don't really belong; they really aren't Black, White, Yellow, or Red, and they might still profess to the Islamic religion.  The federal ethnicity categories are expanding but they are yet to comprise all the races as I see it and "other" is usually my choice unless I am made to abide to my Federal classification of White.  I may be White on paper but we do not fit the White classification of the general public nor ours and yet we submit, or should we rather be grateful, to Uncle Sam's blindness.  Why do we even need this classification other then to further bleed and enlarge the schism.
I say an African American man is a black man if his skin is as rich as mahogany and he is proud of his fore-bearers.  I say an American Indian is red if his skin is the color of the red dirt that was soaked in his ancestors' blood.  I say an Asian American is Yellow if his eyes are slanted like a beautiful crescent shining over us.  I say a White is White if the fruits of his labor propelled us into the industrial revolution.  I say we are all Americans if our combined contributions are greater than our individual offerings and if we pledge allegiance to this country above any other while being human, sincere, raw and yet gentle like we were meant by the creator.
I say enough bigotry and politics because it is not bringing us together but rather splitting us like running a finger through a spider web.  The spider and our humanity will keep mending the fence but sooner or later the spider will run out of thread and unless the pointing finger is severed, humanity will be lost.