Friday, December 28, 2007

Book Review: Man In The Shadows


An autobiography by Efraim Halvey the former head of Mossad (Israeli Intelligence Agency) and secret envoy for 5 Israeli Prime ministers.

The book covers specifically his time in Mossad and touches base with other duties he did (i.e. Israeli ambassador to European Union).

The book sheds light on the Israeli perspective on things in this part of the world and how involved they are almost everywhere in the Middle East.

Some interesting points in the book:
  • Jim Angelton (from CIA) to Efram Halvey: “Never go for an international conference solution”.
  • As long as the Iraqi-Iranian war lasted, Israel was the obvious beneficiary of this continuous blood-letting between two potential enemies (commenting on the Iraqi-Iranian war from early to late 1980s).
  • Israel’s involvement in general in Africa was reaching its climax (…), invested in the defense field, training and advising troops loyal to regimes generally considered dictatorial.
  • (…) Israel was allied with the white regime of South Africa. (…) policies were based on reading of its strategic interests, with minimal regard to human rights…
  • Israel played a very effective role in narrowing Egypt’s zones of influence in Africa.
    Comment: And Egypt seems to have surrendered to that fact and not do anything about it. 3amar ya masr !
  • (In 1980s), Israel launched a rescue operation in the Sudan. The Jews Of Ethiopia were encouraged to cross the border into Sudan to refuge camps around 500 KM from Khartoum (Sundan Capital). Twenty thousand were transported to Israel in 10 years.
    Comment: For 10 years and the Sudanese didn’t know of it?!!! Very fishy!
  • In 1989… Israeli presence on Moroccan soil and unique relationship between King Hassan-II and successive Israeli governments (Israel helped Morroco against Algria which was backed by Egypt).
    Comment: So much for thinking much of Moroccan Monarchy :S
  • Israel,…its most powerful adversary in the region, Egypt.
    Comment: Not anymore, we are totally submissive now. Darn Politicians!
  • Its (Israel) reputation had blossomed to such an extent as to permit it to reap benefits based on its growing legend.
    Comment: I was always convinced that Israel is not as strong as people envision it. He just said it here!
  • In 1990, …Iraq has won the war with Iran but had suffered tremendously both in loss of life…
  • The rain of missiles (shot by Iraq during the gulf war 1990-1991) wrought enormous damage to the morale of the population (of Israel). (…) public morale ran very low. (…) significant exodus of people leaving the country for the duration. This was an experience never encountered before in israel’s history.
    Comment: A note for the books.
  • Shamir (previous Israeli prime Minister), (…) given his previous experience both as leader of the prestate Lehi (Fighters for the Freedom Of Israel) anti-British Mandate fighting group (during the time Britain controlled Palestine and the Jew influx was occurring).
  • Oslo agreement”, (…) Rabin himself would later come to describe as a piece of Swiss cheese.
  • Of all the leaders of Israel only one voiced reservation over the anti-Serbian policies (taken by all other nations during the Balkan war crimes of Serbia in the early 1990s). (…) were not the Jewish people, of all people, the ones who were expected to be the first to speak out and unequivocally condemn actions similar to those it endured during WWII?
    Comment: Well, at least Efram asked the question!
  • The Sharon approach (to not taking an anti-Serbian strategy as others took), drew its inspiration from the basic concepts of Israel’s international strategy, to promote and cultivate understandings and alliances with countries and cultures that were non-Muslims.
    Comment: Why does media (International and US specifically) concentrate on Muslims not liking Israel and not the other way around? It is obvious here that they will do anything just to be close to anyone who is against us!
  • The now-famous Balfour Declaration, contained in a letter from Lord Balfour on behalf of the British government to lord Rothschild, in the year 1917, spoke of a commitment to grant the Jewish people a national home in Palestine.
    Comment: Till this day, I have no idea why the Brits gave themselves the right to give away land that is not theirs in the first place!!
  • So many emerging political figures in Palestinian camp had spent years in Israeli jails, it was well-nigh psychologically impossible for the Israelis to transform their way of looking at individuals from viewing them as prisoners to treating them as emerging equals.
    Comment: a quick look at what Israelis are doing to Palestinians on a daily basis, will confirm what Efram said :S
  • The president (of the US) user over an hour of the time in an attempt to persuade the king (King Hussain of Jordan) to buy Boeing aircraft for his Royal Jordanian civilian air company and thus to replace the Airbus fleet that they had!
  • In order to secure water resources for some of these settlements, Israel had bored water wells quite deep into Jordanian territory.
  • We did not wish this branch of our economy (flower trade to Europe, flower planted on Jordanian confiscated land since the 1967 war) to be damaged by the impending peace treaty (with Jordan).
  • (As part of the Agreement with King Hussain of Jordan for peace) Thus did we secure a quarter of a century of continued exploitation of the land in the south (using in planting flowers) with the use of the water obtained from the wells (within Jordan).
    Comment: The amount of concessions that we (Arabs) do with Israel are unbelievable! Are we that pathetic?! (don’t answer…I know).
  • The successes of the international intelligence community in its battle against terrorism would not have been possible without the active support of Egypt. The cooperation that Egypt extended to the US in facilitating interrogations of major terrorist suspects.
    Comment: How honorable of us. I hope Hosni Mubarak and his security brutals sleeps well at night! 7aga te2ref!
  • Egypt, …encouraged a public vilification of Israel,…Whereas behind closed doors there was much mutual understanding and interest.
  • Egypt has withdrawn its ambassador from Israel in protest against Israeli activities in the region (Spring 2002), but the embassy was left to function with a big and active staff.
    Comment: In other words, it is all an act. Egyptian government and Hosni Mubarak just want to save face. DISGUSTING!
  • Israel was never capable of preventing the flow of information, commands, and instructions out of its detention centers.
  • An eminent Jewish Zionist thinker who had written a famous essay close to 100 years before entitled “Without Vision – the People Will Disintegrate”.
  • (About Arafat, Palestinian PLO leader), rather than remove him entirely (kill him) from the scene, the idea was to leave him with his title of president, but t devolve his powers in such a way that he would become a titular head of state.
  • (As part of the plan to clip Arafat off), the financial system of the Palestinian Authority had to be grouped under finance Minster subordinate to prime minister (Palestinian Prime Minister then was Mahmoud Abbas, the current Palestinian President and successor of Arafat!).
    Comment: This indirectly implies that Mahomud Abbas is their man, or at least aligned with their agenda!
  • (As part of the plan to clip Arafat off),this plan was presented in Washington, London, Cairo and Amman (Jordan), (…) it was received and adopted with enthusiasm.
    Comment: How nice… we are part of the dirty deal. Shame on us all.
  • In 2000, Mr.Sharon asked to visit the temple Mount in Jerusalem and Prime minister Barak authorized it. The purpose of the visit was clearly to assert Israel’s undeniable claim to the entirety of Jerusalem, including areas that housed the holy mosques of Jerusalem.
  • I recall that the first Gulf war (When American and ally troops pushed Iraqis out of Kuwait) came to an abrupt end and a cease-fire was hastily ordered when the Saudis let it be known that as members of the American-led coalition they could not stomach the capture of an Arab capital by Western forces.
  • In the aftermath of the disastrous Yom Kippur War (6th of October War in 1973)… an endeavor to set right a major failure that had been responsible for the loss of more than two thousand dead and several thousand wounded, let al ne the traumatic effect that the war had caused to morale of the nation. (…) shortly after the war, the government of Prime Minister Golda Meir resigned.
  • (Israeli retailation strategy against attacks on Israel) Targets both local and foreign, should be prepared in advance and they need not be related directly to any specific terror attack.
    Comment: Take a close note at the last sentence: “they need not be related directly to any specific terror attack”!!!!!
  • Khammas (Palestinian group Hammas) and possibly HizbollAh (Lebanese Shia group) are only two examples of the type of partner that the free world may be constrained to seek if it wishes to win the war against terror.

Fadfadation Book Scale: 6/10

Mood: Beysamo nafsohom “Part of the Free World” 2aal ! :S

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Hajj - My Journey Of A Life Time

Due to the fact that Hajj (Muslim Pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi) is about to start on Monday 17th of December 2007 (starting with the overnight stay in Mina on the 8th of Thu Al Hija ), I thought i'd share my experience with you all.

It was in January 2006 when God blessed us to perform Hajj .
After i came back i wrote the below e-mail (I added a few photos to help you visualize what we went through).

Note: I edited parts of it to make it more understandable.

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The Holy Mosque In Mecca (Al Kaaba)

Well, we are back safe and sound as they say.

Hajj was very tiring, yet very rewarding.

The best things would be the MANASEK (the acts of worship during Hajj) itself. The worst thing is the people (lelasaf!).
Now I know why we are at the tail of civilization. A lot of Muslims are so bad mannered. It is really a pity.

Of course, a lot of people were very good, clean, pleasant…etc but as you know, one usually notices the bad things not the good.

I saw a lot of people who were either aggressive, or irritated, or dirty, or even selfish…. Lelasaf!


Mina (near Mecca)

The amazing part was seeing all these millions doing the same thing at the same time… sob7an Allah.

I remember a sight when I was going back from MINA to Makkah (Mecca) on foot alone and the road was full of cars and people all going to the same direction. I felt like we were going to the same destiny together.

And on another occasion, we were in the bus going out from 3arafat (Mount Arafat) to Mozdalefa and on the side of the road there was this long white line of people all the way as far as my sight can see heading towards Mozdalefa… it was amazing!
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Al Jamarat

As for the accident, we arrived at the JAMARAT just after it happened (note: in 2006 pilgrimage there was a big accident where a lot of people died in a stamped at the Jamarat area).
They blocked the way to the bridge (JAMARAT bridge) and we just stood there while tens of ambulance cars went in and out to pick up the dead and wounded. It was around 1.15PM when we arrived there.

We left at 2.15PM with no hope to throw the JAMARAT on that day. I had to go back again alone at 4PM and do it alone.
The reason for going alone is that it was very rough and crowded when we were on our way there. I was concerned about my wife. So, I threw Jamarat for both of us instead.

Mount Arafat (3arafat)
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The best part about Hajj in my opinion is 3arafaat (Arafat) with no doubt!!!
It can get very very emotional there. No wonder, since God descends to the lower sky and accepts everyone's pleads…. Sob7an Allah.

I never felt so close to something so powerful as I did on that day at that place.
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There is a Hadeeth (saying of the Prophet Mohammad) that goes: "Hajj is Arafa".
I always understood from this Hadeeth that it is the most important Manasek in Al Hajj.

After what i experienced during the stand in Mount Arafa area, that Hadeeth now has a totally new meaning to me. Becuase, the feelings i sensed during that day in that area... were out of this world!!

For me... HAJJ IS ARAFA.
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Tawaf in "Al Kaaba" (the direction of all Muslim Prayers)

We are both back now. I have a strange sense of calmness I never experienced before…amazing!

I know that life will pull me back to the DONYA problems…

I can not tell you how much pressure the Shitaan is doing on all the people who come back from Hajj. I never had so many WASAWES like now. He is trying hard to spoil everything we did… but with God's might, the shetaan will fail … I hope haha!

Anyway, I hope you all go do Haj and gain all the best rewards out of it, in this life and after...
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Every time i remember Hajj or read this e-mail...
I have to say, Hajj is really "A Journey Of A Life Time".
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Mood: Reminiscing :)

Sunday, December 09, 2007

When Advertisements Get Egyptianized :)

Something to get us started this week :)






Finally, just a little joke for Ahli Football Club fans :)
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Mood: Cheerful :)

Sunday, December 02, 2007

To Live As A True Muslim "MAN"...

True Muslim Men (Al-Tarf Blog)

Since I have been in the Gulf I have been lucky to attend a few religious lessons that really struck a cord inside of me.

Note: The events and words are in “relatively speaking” terms. Compiling this was difficult, so the event is not accurate.

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I live in an area full of locals. Rarely do I see non-locals around.
There is a very posh mosque near us. I think about %90 who go there to pray or whatever are locals.

The Mosque has 3 lessons a week.

One of the days, after the prayer… and after most people left, the Imam (Islamic Cleric that leads prayer and gives lessons) sat down and looked around.

There were about 25 of us. Mainly, men between 20s and 30s, most of them were Locals.


After starting in the name of God, he then said:” Today, I want to talk to you my brothers about something we don’t really concentrate on as Muslims. Or may I say, we don’t concentrate on enough!”.

He continues: ”As I was coming into the Mosque and I saw most of you coming in, I saw the beautiful cars you are riding or coming out from…Masha2 Allah (with God’s blessing and grace).
I now sit and look around me and see very healthy, handsome, well built, rich men (ana mish minhom).
I see men from all over the Muslim world, from this country, Al Sham (Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan), Egypt or even Europe (seems he thought I was European).

I see people leaving the world outside with all its glamour and errands, just to sit down here wanting to listen to a lesson that might help them get through these difficult times we are in.

Today, I want to talk to you about something young men seem to forget these days.

That thing is “Humbleness and modesty”.

Yes, my brothers. Maybe some of you now are saying:” I am fine. I am humble”.

I ask you this as young, wealthy, handsome men:

How many times have women gave you an eye because of your looks in a Market or mall and you felt your ego sky rocket?
How many times have women made a pass at you, and you went along?
How many times have people looked at you as you drove your gorgeous car, and felt good about yourself?
How many times have you walked or acted with an egoistic attitude because of any blessing God gave you?

In other terms, how many times have you “used” your looks, wealth, well built body, and even car to show off or maybe even worse... commit something wrong?

Do you not know that God said in Quran, Surat LoKman:

وَلا تُصَعِّرْ خَدَّكَ لِلنَّاسِ وَلا تَمْشِ فِي الأَرْضِ مَرَحًا إِنَّ اللَّهَ لا يُحِبُّ كُلَّ مُخْتَالٍ فَخُورٍ

And in Quran, Surat Lokman:

وَلا تَفْرَحُوا بِمَا آتَاكُمْ وَاللَّهُ لا يُحِبُّ كُلَّ مُخْتَالٍ فَخُورٍ

And in Quran, Surat Al Israa:

وَلا تَمْشِ فِي الأَرْضِ مَرَحًا إِنَّكَ لَنْ تَخْرِقَ الأَرْضَ وَلَنْ تَبْلُغَ الْجِبَالَ طُولا

And the prophet said:

"من جرَّ ثوبه خيلاء لم ينظر الله إليه يوم القيامة" (أخرجه البخاري ومسلم..

"ما تواضع أحد لله إلا رفعه الله" (جزء من حديث أخرجه مسلم..

And the list goes on…

One of you might say: ”Yes, I did that mistake. But, I am much better than other people who drink, steal, commit adultery and whatever else there is on the list of sins”.

Let me ask you a few questions to open your eyes on corners you might have missed while using such an argument…

When we are judged on Judgment day, who will judge us?
God, obviously!

OK….When God will judge us, doesn’t He judge us per the standards of conduct that He sent for us. The standards of conduct that his Prophets taught us? Or will He judge us per what “other” people do”?
He will judge us per the standards that HE sent for us. We are judged per the benchmark Quran and Suna!

OK, someone might come and say:”Well, God is merciful. No matter what I do, He will forgive me.”.

And I say: “You are right and wrong at the same time”. How? Here’s how…

Yes, God is Merciful. Merciful more than a mother upon her children.

Yet, you would be mistaken if you let yourself go and do what you want to do relaying on His Mercy without backing it up with deeds.

Brothers… God is Merciful with the ones who work for it. In other words, DO SOMETHING TO DESERVE HIS MERCY.

Just as mentioned in Surat Al Nour:

وَلا يَأْتَلِ أُولُو الْفَضْلِ مِنْكُمْ وَالسَّعَةِ أَنْ يُؤْتُوا أُولِي الْقُرْبَى وَالْمَسَاكِينَ وَالْمُهَاجِرِينَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَلْيَعْفُوا وَلْيَصْفَحُوا أَلا تُحِبُّونَ أَنْ يَغْفِرَ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ
Someone might say: “God can be Merciful to the extent that HE sends us to heaven just because we worshiped Him”.

I’d say:”Yes, you are right. But, let me ask you a last question…

Can you guarantee it?
Can you come now and tell me… I guarantee God will forgive me and send me to heaven?

Even Omar Ibn Al Khatab as he was dying, he was shivering with fear. He didn’t know whether God will forgive him and embrace him with his Mercy.

Didn’t God say in Surat Mariyam:”

أَطَّلَعَ الْغَيْبَ أَمِ اتَّخَذَ عِنْدَ الرَّحْمَنِ عَهْدًا

No one knows where they will end up, whether in heaven or hell.
Work for your place in heaven. Do something to deserve that place and remember this…

God said in Surat Al Ankaboot:

وَمَا هَذِهِ الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا إِلا لَهْوٌ وَلَعِبٌ

And in Surat Al Hadeed:

اعْلَمُوا أَنَّمَا الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا لَعِبٌ وَلَهْوٌ وَزِينَةٌ وَتَفَاخُرٌ بَيْنَكُمْ وَتَكَاثُرٌ فِي الأَمْوَالِ وَالأَوْلادِ كَمَثَلِ غَيْثٍ أَعْجَبَ الْكُفَّارَ نَبَاتُهُ ثُمَّ يَهِيجُ فَتَرَاهُ مُصْفَرًّا ثُمَّ يَكُونُ حُطَامًا وَفِي الآخِرَةِ عَذَابٌ شَدِيدٌ وَمَغْفِرَةٌ مِنَ اللَّهِ وَرِضْوَانٌ وَمَا الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا إِلا مَتَاعُ الْغُرُورِ

I apologize if I took too much of your time, but we now come to the part I want you to think of...

Don’t you think O "young, healthy, and well off" men that now is the time to have some TRUE Muslim “MEN” out there?!

Haven’t we got enough half-good Muslim men out there?

You meet a muslim with good manners, but he doesn’t pray.
You meet a muslim who prays, but chases girls.
You meet a muslim who goes to Haj, but drinks liquor.
You meet a muslim who gives Alms (sadaka), yet abuses his wife and ill treats her.
You meet a muslim that talks the talk, but doesn’t walk the walk.
And the list goes on...

Don’t you think now is the time for some True Muslim "MEN" out there?
Don’t you think YOU CAN CHANGE THAT pitiful reality we live in?

I want each one of you after this lesson to go home and go look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself this question:

AM I THE MUSLIM MAN PROPHET MOHAMMAD WANTED AND WOULD BE PROUD OF?”

It is time my brothers that each one of us starts changing…
Live as men brothers…live as men and make your prophet PROUD!

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Throughout my life I was never a show off type of guy. I guess it was how I was brought up to be.
I am not saying I am excellent or the best (who am I aslan?!). But, what I want to say is that since that lesson, I have been trying to make it a point to to do my best.
Failure will happen on the way, but i'll try to keep on going, ISA :)

This was one lesson I can hardly forget!

Mood: Nefsi a3eesh Ragel waa amoot Ragel!