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Archive for the ‘Discourse Analysis’ Category

وين الدولة, la rengaine de Sibylle R

Posted by worriedlebanese on 10/08/2010

Je suis tombé sur deux articles signés par Sibylle Rizk, journaliste à l’Orient-Le Jour en lisant une vieille édition du Figaro (celle du vendredi 6 août): Le Liban apprend à vivre sans Etat et La rengaine d’Abou Ali. Le premier article se présente comme une analyse de fond, un “éclairage” sur les raisons derrière le classement du Liban au 34e rang des Etats défaillants. Le second article s’ouvre sur un “portrait”, celui d’un chauffeur de service (taxi collectif), Abou Ali. Ce deuxième article nous offre, sans même le réaliser, une clef d’analyse extrêmement précieuse qui nous permet de mieux comprendre le premier. Sibylle Rizk nous apprend que Abou Ali répète continuellement “ما في دولة بهالبلد”, “Il n’y a pas d’État dans ce pays”, “C’est son expression favorite. Il la répète chaque fois que l’un de ses passagers lui raconte ses déboires”. L’ensemble de l’article est construit autour de cette expression favorite d’Abou Ali. La journaliste la prend comme illustration d’une sorte de sagesse populaire. Mais d’un point de vue analytique, on réalise bien que ce n’est qu’une rengaine, une expression creuse qui ne fache personne, une formule consensuelle qui fait l’unanimité. Elle désigne un bouc émissaire en quelque sorte abstrait, une personne morale (comme diraient les juristes), une institution désincarnée. Cette rengaine se veut comme la conclusion d’un raisonnement, mais en fait c’est une premisse. Cette expression fait figure d’une formule magique qui permet à celui qui la profère de faire l’économie de l’analyse d’un problème et de la recherche d’une solution. Cet article nous montre bien que l’usage de cette formule est le même à tous les niveaux: au niveau de la population (à travers l’exemple d’Abou Ali), au niveau des analystes (un économiste et un sociologue), au niveau des journalistes (Sibylle Risk), et même au niveau des ministres (représentés par Charbel Nahas).

Par définition, une prémisse est considérée comme évidente par elle-même. Elle ne nécessite donc aucune démonstration. Et en l’occurrence, tout dysfonctionnement (ou tous les dysfonctionnements) de l’Etat devient l’expression de son absence, et non pas le résultat de quelque défaillance structurelle ou de l’action (volontaire) de ses agents.

Sibylle Rizk se permet de titrer son article “Le Liban apprend à vivre sans Etat”, comme s’il s’agissait de l’Afghanistan. Seulement, ce titre cache une toute autre réalité. L’Etat libanais est de loin le premier acteur économique, le premier employeur, le premier assureur (avec une sécurité sociale dont une large portion de la population bénéficie), le premier éducateur (son réseau est depuis près de deux décennies le premier réseau éducatif du pays), le seule régulateur économique et bancaire, et quasiment le seul acteur public (l’Etat est structurellement extrêmement centralisé et rechigne à reconnaître toute autonomie aux institutions publiques ou à partager le pouvoir avec des autorités locales). On est bien loin d’une absence…

Faux et usage de faux

Charbel Nahas se permet de dire que “L’État comme cadre formel de gestion organisée des affaires de la population n’a cessé de reculer, que ce soit en termes de qualité des prestations ou d’emprise sur la population libanaise». Ceci est absolument faux. L’Etat n’a cessé de s’étendre depuis les années 1940 et à étendre son emprise sur des secteurs de l’économie. Les services qu’ils proposent n’ont cessé de croître. On pourrait à juste titre relever que la qualité de certains services laissent à désirer… mais on ne peut pas prétendre que son emprise sur la population a reculé! L’Etat au Liban est partout. C’est un mammouth colossal dont dépend une grande partie de la population. Et ses décisions affectent tout le monde.

Charbel Nahas surenchérit en disant «La dette publique, qui représente 150 % du PIB, est le reflet le plus éloquent de cet effritement», «Ce qui restait de l’État, à savoir sa fonction financière, a été asservi au bénéfice des groupes subétatiques que l’on appelle “communautés”». C’est également faux. La dette publique est le reflet d’une politique économique, celle des gouvernement successifs de Rafic Hariri (au temps du “mandat” syrien), et non pas «le reflet le plus éloquent de cet effritement». Et en ce qui concerne les bénéficiaires de ce soit disant “effritement”, ce ne sont pas les “communautés” qui restent au Liban des corps non organisés et non représentés (l’Etat ne leur reconnaît pas de representants politiques, mais uniquement des représentants religieux…), mais plutôt des réseaux clientélistes dont les patrons respectifs revendiquent  aujoud’hui (tout en s’en défendant) une représentation communautaire (que les institutions ne leur assure pas).

Melhem Chaoul se permet de revisiter l’histoire libanaise à partir de la prémisse “ما في دولة بهالبلد” en la déformant systématiquement. Il oublie que la France nous avait doté d’un système judiciaire aussi compétent qu’efficace, que sous le mandat de Camille Chamoun les capacités de l’Etat ont été renforcés (politique économique, politique étrangère, début de la planification et de l’expansion de l’éducatif publique), que sous Fouad Chehab il y a eu à la fois des reculs et des avancés, que sous Charles Helou l’Etat a renforcé son emprise sur plusieurs secteurs économiques (bancaire et aviation), et que même la guerre civile n’a pas empêché l’accroissement de l’Etat (surtout le secteur éducatif et l’administration publique). Dire que l’Etat Libanais est né incapable est une insulte au pays et à notre intelligence. On croirait entendre Hafez el-Assad dont le discours avait comme seul but de déligitimer le Liban.

Et puis, le pon-pon: “C’est ainsi que le pays a pu fonctionner de novembre 2006 à mai 2008 avec un Parlement bloqué qui déniait toute légitimité au gouvernement en place et que la présidence de la République est restée vacante pendant six mois”. Ceci n’est pas la preuve de l’absence de l’Etat, mais au contraire de sa solidité. Les services ont continué à fonctionner en dépit d’une crise du régime extrêmement grave… une crise du régime qui n’a pas affecté le pouvoir en dépit des blocages institutionnels (qui ont commencé avec la neutralisation du Conseil Constitutionnel et de la présidence de la République par le Quatorze Mars®, et ont été suivi par la neutralisation du Parlement et la déligitimation du gouvernement par le tandem Hezbollah-Amal). Le problème est manifestement pas celui de l’absence de l’Etat mais du comportement de ses agents (surtout les ministres, le Premier ministre et le Président de la Chambre), et de l’absence de mécanismes institutionnels correcteurs (arbitrage, dissolution, révocation…). Mais ceci pourrait fâcher quelques personnes en leur faisant assumer leur responsabilité… donc répétons en coeur: ما في دولة بهالبلد. une formule consensuelle dont l’effet est soulageant.

Posted in Culture, Discourse, Discourse Analysis, Journalism, Lebanon, Politics, Prejudice, Semantics, Version Francophone | 2 Comments »

“Eclairages” sur le premier Congrès Diasporique Druze

Posted by worriedlebanese on 20/07/2010

En lisant ce matin quatre compte-rendus sur le Congrès Diasporique Druze organisé la veille au BIEL (Solidère), j’ai eu l’impression de suivre une leçon magistrale sur les malheurs du journalisme libanais. Il s’agissait donc pour les rédactions d’informer leurs lecteurs sur la tenue d’un congrès. Ce genre d’exercice journalistique peut-être conduit de différentes manières: la reproduction des interventions orales (intégrale, résumée, ou sélectionné), l’entretien avec une ou plusieurs personnes présentes, l’analyse de la thématique et des enjeux du congrès… C’est une question de choix rédactionnel (le journaliste choisit  un angle) et de culture journalistique. Observons ces choix et la culture journalistique qu’ils reflètent.

Al-Akhbar, sous le titre “Ouverture du premier congrès diasporique druze” (افتتاح المؤتمر الاغترابي الأول للدروز) nous propose une sorte de première dépêche de l’événement. L’information est claire et succinte. Elle est issue de la grande tradition des communiqués de presse arabes dont voici le format rigide: phrase introductive qui précise que l’évènement a réuni un grand nombre de personnalités; phrase centrale qui n’est autre qu’une citation d’un homme politique (en l’occurrence, Walid Jumblatt; phrase de conclusion qui “contextualise” (généralement par rapport à d’autres déplacements de politiciens) ou “évalue” (toujours une grande réussite) l’événement. Le seul élément qui pourrait titiller la curiosité du lecteur est le segment de la présentation des personnalités présentes qui mentionne “la délégation de Sheiks Druzes des territoires de 1948″ (c-à-d Israël) avec la précision qu’ils sont “arrivés au Liban il y a deux jours en traversant la Jordanie et la Syrie” pour rassurer les lecteurs qu’on est pas en présence d’un acte de collaboration avec Israël.

An-Nahar sous le titre “Joumblatt à l’ouverture du Premier Congrès Diasporique Druze: “avec la Syrie, nous avons établie la formule définitive de l’entente interne” (جنبلاط في افتتاح “المؤتمر الاغترابي الأول للموحدين الدروز”:
مع سوريا وضعنا الصيغة النهائية للتسوية الداخلية) nous livre une variante de la première formule. Elle épouse les même règles que la première mais en plus détaillée, au lieu de trois phrases, nous avons droit à trois paragraphes: un paragraphe de présentation des personnalités, un grand paragraphe d’extrait de discours (de politiciens, évidemment), et un court paragraphe de “contextualisation” ou “d’évaluation”. Notons que dans le paragraphe de présentation, le journaliste Amer Zeineddine (عامر زين الدين) nous informe de la présence “d’une délégation druze d’Arabes de Palestine [عرب فلسطين] présidée par Aouni Kneifess” et lui concède un petit extrait de son allocution.

Le compte-rendu du journal As-Safir reprend la même formule “extensive” qu’An-Nahar sous un titre similaire  “Joumblatt à l’ouverture du premier Congrès Diasporique Druze: Nous sommes l’avant-garde de la voie arabe … Et les instants d’errance sont du passé” (جنبـلاط فـي افتتـاح المؤتمـر الاغترابي الدرزي الأول: نحن طليعة الخط العربـي… ولحظات التخلي انتهت). L’article de Jaafar Antari se distingue par un témoigne sur les interrogations et la speculation autour des résultats escompté de ce congrès: aboutira-t-il au “rassemblement des Druzes du Liban et de l’étranger” ou se contentera-t-il d’être “une plate-forme pour des déclarations politiques”? Evidemment, l’article ne propose aucun élément de réponse, mais il fait passer un commentaire sur la délégation druze “en provenance de la Palestine occupée” (circonlocution de circonstance), “arrivée au Liban via la Syrie” (gage de respectabilité). Le journaliste note en passant que la table à laquelle était placée la délégation est devenu le centre d’intérêt de la soirée et qu’elle a attiré vers elle à plusieurs reprises Walid Jumblatt qui venait par moment pour la féliciter et par moment pour la rassurer. Ce genre de phrase est dans le style journalistique libanais une invitation “à lire entre les lignes”, pratique qui au lieu d’informer ne fait que confirmer les préjugés du lecteur initié. Pour un article plus intéressant sur la dynamique

Mais le pompon revient à l’Orient-Le Jour avec l’article intitulé “Les druzes d’Israël parviennent à briser le blocus en venant au Liban“, franchit allègrement la complaisance de ses confrère et verse dans la propagande de style héroïque. Au lieu de quelques circonlocution politiquement correcte, la rédaction journal préfère l’emphase avec un désintérêt total pour la réalité décrite. Le titre annonce la couleur: Il parle de blocus, alors que ce qui empêche la visite de cette délégation druze sont deux lois identiques de part et d’autre de la frontière libano-israélienne: les deux pays interdisent le voyage de leurs citoyens vers un pays ennemi et interdisent aux citoyens de l’autre pays de se rendre dans leur pays. Donc en principe, ces dignitaires n’ont pas seulement “bravé l’interdit des autorités israéliennes”, mais également la loi libanaise. Mais on peut noter qu’il existe une exception à cette interdiction légale, et elle touche les hommes de religions: ceux-ci peuvent faire ce déplacement sans trop d’encombres… Et il le font. Les synodes maronites, arméniens et grecs-catholiques comprennent souvent des prêtres venus d’Israël (qui d’ailleurs sont parfois de nationalité libanaise). D’ailleurs, ce n’est pas la premières fois que des dignitaires Druzes de nationalité israélienne se rendent au Liban, ce n’est donc pas “une première”. Comme les trois autres journaux libanais, rien n’est dit sur la particularité des Druzes israéliens et de leur rapport avec l’Etat d’Israël, autre qu’une allusion de Walid Joumblatt sur “le courage” de cette délégation dont les membres ont “refusé de s’enrôler dans le service militaire obligatoire en Israël”. Allégation qui au demeurant reste à vérifier…

Posted in Communication, Discourse, Discourse Analysis, Israel, Journalism, Lebanon, Semantics, Version Francophone | Leave a Comment »

Back to the future: “Lebanese Left” vs “Lebanese Right”

Posted by worriedlebanese on 23/06/2010

For over a week, we’ve been reading a lot of things about the heated parliamentary debate on Tuesday 15th of June 2010 triggered by four bills (that no lebanese newspaper published) presented by Walid Jumblatt (head of the PSP, Druze MP of the Chouf), Elie Aoun (member of Jumblatt’s Democratic Gathering, Maronite MP of the Chouf), Alaeddine Terro (member of the PSP, Sunni MP of the Chouf), and why the Christian MPs refused the four “double urgency” bills that would allow Palestinians in Lebanon to own property, get work permits in any profession and receive social-security payments. Let’s look into Walid Jumblatt’s words during that debate and see what they say about politics in Lebanon:

“The ‘right’ throughout the world is stupid, the Lebanese right is worried. We’ve been hearing the same arguments for 62 years. Do you want to postpone things, well postpone them. But if you want to postpone them this time, understand that your postponing a problem. The embargo on Gaza is allegedly carried out to “topple Hamas”. However it [Hamas] prevailed and gained strength, thank God it won. In Lebanon, the breakdown of the Palestinian Authority leads to the emergence of fundamentalist movements in the camps and to the displacement of Palestinians. When fundamentalist movements appear in the camps, what happens to you? Do you loose? You don’t loose a thing. We send the Lebanese army to die and then we make promises to rebuild the camps. Is that what you want? I’ve never seen stupider than the Lebanese right, I’ve never seen stupider than the Lebanese right”. Walid Joumblatt, spoken in Parliament on Tuesday 15th of June 2010, reported by Al-Akhbar in its wednesday edition (my translation).

Walid Jumblatt raises a whole lot of issues in this short and somewhat improvised speech. I say somewhat improvised because he could have easily expected the result of last Tuesday’s parliamentary discussions; The Free Patriotic Movement, the Lebanese Forces and the Kataeb were bound to oppose any bill extending the rights of  the Palestinian of Lebanon, especially if these bills followed the “double urgency” procedure. Such a procedure deprives Christian politicians of the time needed to convince their Christian constituency that extending Palestinian rights do not infringe on their own political rights.

Let’s look a bit closer at what Walid Jumblatt is saying:

  • He calls the Christian parties the “Lebanese right” and considers them the stupidest of all “rightist” parties worldwide. By doing so, he reclaims his father’s rhetorical arguments and terminology, with its binary division of politics between so-called “rightist” (actually christian) parties and so called “leftist” (actually muslim) parties. In a later interview with al-Akhbar, Walid Jumblatt said that he had expected this reaction from the ‘right’, “but not this degree of stupidity. This is a stupidity of historic dimension. Stupidity is not Christian, because there is a category of Christians who has struggled in favour of Arab issues even before the ‘National Movement’”. Framing the whole issue in these terms and asserting that he had expected the result seem to indicate that reclaiming his father’s heritage and boosting his “progressif” credentials could be one of the objectives behind the bills he presented.
  • He states that Palestinian civil rights have been postponed for 62 years and insinuates that the Christian/”rightist” parties are to be blamed for it. This is historically inaccurate. Most of the discriminations against the Palestinians date back to 1982, and were part of the Lebanese government and parliament’s backlash against the PLO (most of the provisions that restrict the labour market were repealed a couple of years ago). Others have to do with general rules that were prevalent across the world concerning foreign labour when they were instituted and were not modified to suit current standards.
  • He speaks of the Israeli policy towards Gaza, suggesting a comparison could be made between the Israeli handling of Palestinian affairs and the Lebanese “rightist” Christian policies towards Palestinian refugees. In a context like the Lebanese one, this is for the least “libellous”. The intention is to “smear” the “right”, instead of shedding a light on either dynamic (the Israeli and the Lebanese one).
  • He suggests that granting Palestinian increased social rights would support the Palestinian authority and curb the expansion of Islamist groups within the Palestinian camps. This suggestion is pleasing to liberal ears, but it is extremely simplistic and unfounded. It ignores the internal political dynamics between the Palestinian Authority and the palestinian diaspora (which has become increasingly strained and loose since the Oslo accords), within the Palestinian community in Lebanon (which has become less sensitive to Palestinian nationalist rhetoric), and between Palestinians and Lebanese parties and constituencies. All these dynamics point to a weakening of the PLO and the PA’s authority, and an increased influence of Islamist parties, regardless of Palestinian social conditions.
  • He says that christians parties do not pay the price of their mistakes, the Palestinians and the Lebanese army do. This is the only argument he uses that breaks away from his father’s rhetoric in which the Lebanese army and the “right” were considered as one. This rhetorical change reflects the important change the Lebanese army underwent in the 1990s (under the Syrian Mandate) and now “switches sides” in the political equation.

Posted in Discourse, Discourse Analysis, Intercommunal affairs, Lebanon, Levantine Christians, Palestinians | 2 Comments »

Father Zahlawi’s take on East vs West

Posted by worriedlebanese on 30/03/2010

I came across the “open letter” of Elias Zahlawi addressed to the pope a couple of days ago, and decided to react to it today on the site I found it on. Here is a reproduction of my comment.

A short critique of F. Elias al-Zahlawi’s open letter.

Thanks to Adib S. Kawar and Mary Rizzo for sharing this article with us, and for taking the time to translate it, making it available to a larger audience, one larger than the originally intended or expected from its author. It is precisely because of this widening of its audience that I believe some elements should be thrown into the discussion.

F. Elias Zahlawi’s letter belongs to a particular literary style, that of the “open letter”. This journalistic genre is typically ambivalent surrounding its addressee. It has an epistolary addressee (one that the open letter is addressed to) and an actual audience (the one that has access to the support it was published on).

It’s often quite legitimate to ask oneself to whom it was actually written. This question is crucial because the meaning of this act of communication can only be fully understood if one looks at all its actors, the active one(s) (i.e. the emitter) and the passive one(s) (i.e. the recipients). With Father Zahlawi’s “open letter”, the answer is quite easy, and one can deduce that from the style of the letter and its arguments: the letter is intended for its (Syrian and Arab) audience.

One expects a letter from a catholic priest to the Pope to bear a particular language and tone. One would also expect the text to limit itself to presenting and explaining the motivating behind this subordinate’s criticism of the Pope’s policy, acts or speeches. These elements are quickly dealt away with because F. Elias Zahlawi is not here to convince the Pope of anything. He is not publishing a letter intended to the Pope, but writing an editorial to present to his Syrian/Arab audience his adherence to a specific political stand and geopolitical vision, one that is incidentally shared by most editorials in this part of the world. This explains why the doctrinal and pastoral arguments are so extremely weak and sparse. They are completely manipulated to serve the geopolitical argument and perspective advanced by the author. This just another opinion piece, identical in many ways to many opinion papers published in the Arab press in its language, arguments and references. Its “epistolary” style is just a literary tactic that actually flatters the author (by parading a kind of bravado) and confirms his ethnic narrative: that of a binary world divided between West and East, the powerful and the powerless, the oppressors and the oppressed, the rich and the poor. In this binary world, the author faces two challenges that contradict his strict division. Two elements do not fit in the mutually exclusive categories he defends:

  1. F. Zahlawi is Christian (and Catholic), a religion identified with the West (the powerful, the oppressor, the wealthy). This is why he insists on presenting himself as an Arab priest, putting forward an ethnic identity (based on language, culture and an alleged common ancestry) and throughout his article he stresses the divide between him and the Pope who he portrays as belonging to the West, the powerful, the wealthy… So his open letter actually reinforces this divide and shows quite clearly his identity politics and the ethnic strategy he is defending (and which are expected from a person belonging to a vulnerable minority).
  2. The region faces a rather powerful and destructive force that is not “western” but Islamist. Here again, the binary divide is upset. But Father Elias Zahlawi finds a way around this. He considers Islamic groups as a creation of the west and of violence carried in the name of Islam as a reaction to the West’s policy. This re-establishes his binary divide between the West (to which he conflates Judaism and Israel) and the East (that is composed of Muslims and Christians united by their alleged Arab identity).

What is missing from this opinion paper

Well, the editorialist in black dress doesn’t really address what motivated his “open letter”, the Pope’s call for a special assembly of the Synod of Bishops on “The Catholic Church in the Middle East: Communion and Witness” that is to take place in October this year (from the 10 to the 24th). He doesn’t say anything about the catholic church and catholics in the Middle East. He doesn’t speak of the challenges they face or address their current plight (drop of 20% to 70% depending on the country, inertia and difficulties in the ecumenical dialogue with orthodox, protestant and non-chalcedonian churches…). He says more about the plight of American natives and Palestinians than about Oriental christians (that he actually hardly mentions). Why?

Probably because such a synod rejects the binary divisions his worldview is based on, and because he probably perceives such a synod as being divisive; It might tackle some issues in their full complexity instead of the simple terms he defends. So he answers its call with a kind of “preemptive strike” one that doesn’t really strike its opponent but comforts its supporters in their certainties.

Posted in Discourse, Discourse Analysis, Identity, Intercommunal affairs, Israel, Journalism, Levantine Christians, Middle East, Palestinians | Leave a Comment »

InsepArab: Hélène Cixous’ take on Jewish & Arab identities

Posted by worriedlebanese on 20/03/2010

Odd word, isn’t it? “InsepArab“. Hélène Cixous is actually quite fond of such neologisms. Most of the words she coins have a very literary quality to them (I quite like another one she had coined earlier in her career: “Oublire” which borrows from “Oublier”, to forget, and “lire”, to read, and has a proactive quality to it). With “insepArab” she brings out from the adjective “inseparable”, the noun “Arab”, and then removes the last two letters hinting at the complexity of her relation to Arab(s)/Arabic, but not “Arabness” or “arabité”, that is specifically left out of the picture.

Arab and Jewish identities as mutually exclusive

Hélène Cixous has spoken on more occasions than one about her identity, and most notably in her autobiographical essay/novel “Reveries of the wild woman”. But I will stick here to an interview that she made on the BBC two weeks ago (and that is available on an “Arts & Ideas” podcast), insofar as it doesn’t contradict her earlier stands.

“I didn’t want to be an Arab, I knew I was Jewish” and she explains that the “history of Jews was heavy enough” and that she didn’t want to escape its burden and responsibility”. This is probably the strangest argument in the interview. Hélène Cixous claims that becoming Arab or identifying as an Arab would prevent her from carrying on the burden and the responsibility of her jewish identity. The notion of “burden” and “responsibility” of an identity is already quite difficult to fathom, but the supposed effects of an Arab identification by a Jew are indecipherable.

And then Cixous procedes with the type of argument that give culturalism a bad name. She speaks of the pragmatism that she got from her German mother and talks about the “culture gap” between her Arab classmates and the others (including herself) and illustrates it by saying that “they had never slept in beds”. She also speaks of their “family culture that was so far from modern culture”. Her argument would have been completely different had she spoken of western culture, but instead of space, she prefers time, presenting Algerian Arab culture as archaic, a sentiment that is reinforced when she speaks of the “prominent positions within arabic tribes” of her Arab classmates’ fathers.

Westernisation would have been a much suited and  fruitful approach because one could see its effects on Algeria’s native population: some sectors of the Muslim population that voluntarily integrated into Algerian-French society, and the Jewish population that was quite vigourously westernised since the 1870s (through the systematic transformation and replacement of their native institutions by Jewish institutions coming from France).

What is also quite strange is that Hélène Cixous has no problem identifying her mother as German (and giving her supposedly “germanic traits”), while she refuses to do the same thing with her father  who is denied both Arabic and French identities). When she speaks of him choosing her two language instructors, one for Arabic and one for Hebrew, she attributes this to his socialist leaning, and not to the fact that Arabic was the language of his ancestors for centuries (and the most important cultural language of Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews) and that of the vast majority of the population in Algeria. So while Jewish and Arab identities are mutually exclusive, Jewish and German identities are not.

Weighing oppressions and odd equations

“I wanted that the Jews and the Arabs who were equally oppressed to join”, Cixous says. When asked if it was true that at that time (after 1945) and at that place (Algeria) “Jews and Arabs were equally oppressed” she answered that “it was true” because “there was a double racism, one against the Arabs and one against the Jews” and then spoke about the differences between Arab and Jews under Vichy and Nazism. She concluded this argument by saying that she “knew about history”, about “the conditions of the different oppressions” and “thought that the oppressed should become allies”. It is quite obvious that she is struggling with her argument, she starts by equating “oppression” and “racism”, then shifts in time to a specific period (which was off topic) to shift the balance between the two oppressions, and after that historical argument slips back to an ahistorical approach (devoid of any contextual element).

Posted in Culture, Discourse, Discourse Analysis, Identity, Intercommunal affairs, Judaism, Memory, Values | 6 Comments »

Leaders, Spectators & Clowns: the UN’s General Assembly’s 64th session

Posted by worriedlebanese on 25/09/2009

UN-GENERAL ASSEMBLY-OBAMAThe contrast between these four men is striking. One could easily say that in this world Assembly, they are “worlds apart”. On one hand you’ve got a world/worldly leader, on the other three buffoons with very distinct styles.

Obama knew very well who his audience was, and he spoke to them in his habitual clear and cultured style. He was here to convince the UN and world leaders that the Bush days are gone, a page was being turned and that multilateralism was to replace unilateralism. He spoke as a leader, summing his country’s policy change and telling his audience what it wanted to hear. He addressed many issues, took twice the time that was alloted to him, but everything he said was linked to a policy that he had already launched, and that he vowed to pursue (here is his speech).

Now let’s check out the three buffoons: the delusional megalomaniac buffoon, the possessed preacher buffoon and the dogmatic historian buffoon.

I’ve searched the web through and through, but found no transcription of Muammar Gaddafi’s text. The reason is simple. There was no text! The Libyan autocratic leader preferred to improvise. He brought several folders, papers and books with him, and flicked through them, giving solution to every single conflict that sprang to his mind. And instead of sticking to the 15 minutes given to him, he took a whole 90 minutes. So don’t expect coherence or clarity, it’s rants that you’re going to get.

Amadinejad’s speech on the other hand was very well constructed. It clearly defined the good guys and the bad guys. It also spoke lengthly of God… and to a lesser extent of Zionism. It hardly adressed the nuclear issue or other upsetting matters. It didn’t give much thought about the audience or the fact that Israel has been campaigning against him quite heavily accusing his country of genocidal intent. Autistic to the very end, he stuck to preaching, giving no consideration to the fact that his audience wasn’t particularly receptive to his message, and that he needed to be very convincing if he wanted to get his point through.

And then came Netanyahu! If you want a good summary of Israeli Hasbara (propaganda techniques called “explanation”), you can’t dream of a better lesson. Bibi’s speech will tell you everything about how to be self-righteous, how history is to be used against others, how rhetorical techniques could be effective and how certain references can help you sway an audience toward you.

Posted in Culture, Discourse, Discourse Analysis, Middle East, Political behaviour, Semantics, Values | 8 Comments »

 
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