April 17, 2014

Op-ed: Does Egypt deserve US aid?

Providing billions in aid to some states doesn't always allow you to set conditions.

BY NOUR BAKR The notion of aid is a notoriously slippery one. The US pledged $45 million of it to the Syrian rebels, annually gives a large amount of it to Israel, and in the 1980s accidentally scribbled an “s” at the end of it to create its deadly plural form (unproven science). Days ago however, news emerged that a $450 million aid package for Egypt was blocked by a US house committee chairwoman on the basis that she was “not convinced of the urgent need for this assistance”. Now, many will be aware that under he who shall not…

Arab in NYC: So many lines, so little time

Cartoon by Carlos Latuff.

BY ALI HAZZAH A few days ago, I was sitting with some friends in my favorite qahwa, somewhere in Little Egypt, Astoria, NY, watching TV. Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu was giving his now famous Wile E. Coyote speech.  It was clear that Bibi wanted to either scare the pants off his audience — or have them die laughing, as we say in Egypt — from his latest presentation of the coming Armageddon. Frankly, the volume was a bit low, so it was impossible to hear everything he was saying in that almost, but not quite American accent of his,…

Op-ed: Enough excuses for no ethics

A wrong injection could have cost a young women her life.

BY REHAM BARAKAT I have a friend that I hadn’t seen for a while. Since we live in opposing ends of the city, Cairo traffic makes it very difficult for us to meet, so often I check on her through mutual friends. I was shocked about what recently happened to her. She had gone to a pharmacy for a routine Vitamin D injection recommended by her doctor. Having been administered the intramuscular injection many times before, she was taken aback when the female pharmacist asked her to bare her stomach for it this time. So she asked if it was…

Arab in NYC: An Arab-American superhero?

Cover of Green Lantern comic featuring an Arab-American superhero.

BY ALI HAZZAH Yesterday an Arab teenager rushed into my favorite ahwa in Little Egypt, NY, with a DC comic book under his arm. He sat down at a table near me and immediately started reading. “Mish ma’oul! ” I soon heard him exclaiming. “Ya kharachi!” Now, ordinarily, I don’t pay much attention to uncouth Astoria punks, who ought to respect their elders and study the Quran, or at least follow the latest exploits of Mona Eltahawy, instead of wasting their free time on trifles like comic books.  Ahem. Okay, it’s true: I once was an avid comic book fan…

Op-ed: Egypt-US: The ‘ally’ issue

Screen grab shows President Morsi during a recent interview with the New York Times.

BY NOUR BAKR “That depends on your definition of ally,” was the boisterous response of Egypt’s President Morsi when asked this week if he considers the US one. It certainly wasn’t the sniffling apology some in the US were expecting after Morsi’s initial failure to react to the attacks on the embassy in Cairo, but who can blame him? Nevertheless the apology was apparently sufficient as a brief meeting between Clinton and Morsi yesterday concluded with the US signalling with clear intent that aid to Egypt would continue unabated. As Iran’s leaders will testify, Morsi is one apparently unused to…

Arab in NYC: Yom Kippur

Yitzhak Rabin Way in Manhattan, NYC.

BY ALI HAZZAH New Yorkers have always accepted that there will be a certain amount of rough-elbowing between the various races, ethnicities and sometimes even competing religions that underlie the complicated social fabric of their city. Christmas is still big, for example. Ditto Yom Kippur, the Jewish Holy Day of atonement. Ramadan is not officially observed, nor are any of the other holidays in Islam (but then again, neither is, say, the Chinese New Year). No big deal, except perhaps when raw pork was found strewn on the grounds of a public park where New York City Muslims this year…

Pulling the strings

From left Ayman Samir, Moustafa El Refaey  and Wesam Masoud.

BY WESAM MASOUD Someone with far more wit than me said “Acting is easy, comedy is hard”. That same aphorism can be applied to a professional kitchen; once you’ve learned the basic techniques, cooking individual ingredients can be a walk in the park. What’s hard is bringing all those techniques, ingredients and flavors together on one plate. It’s a balancing act that few can pull off, and even fewer can perform masterfully. Success in this endeavor is often difficult; people have different tastes and while the technical ability required to create a sublime chicken liver terrine is high, it is…

Buttered Up: Restaurant service blues

Orange Mustard Chicken. (Photo by Sarah Khanna)

BY SARAH KHANNAI can forgive a chef for a mediocre day in the kitchen. I may not have enjoyed the meal but if I’m comfortable in my space, haven’t gotten ill and am greeted with pleasant efficient service, I will readily come back to give the place another try and order something different on the menu. Eating out at any of the new hip places littering Zamalek and Maadi doesn’t come cheap and so it would be assumed that service must be procedure and detail oriented. After several visits to those that call themselves gourmet and to those boastful of…

Arab in NYC: Morsi comes to town

File photo of President Mohamed Morsi giving a speech in Tahrir Square after winning the elections in June 2012..

BY ALI HAZZAH The other day, I was smoking shisha and sipping ahwa at my favorite ersatz Middle Eastern café on Steinway Street, NY. Due to my advancing years, I must confess that I was quite exhausted from all the excitement in the last day or so, namely, the news that President Morsi was coming to NY, where he would be meeting with several world leaders at the UN, including French President Francois Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron, but not, alas, President Obama, who was going to be too busy doing other things to have time for him….

Social values, not religion, fuel Muslim protests

Protesters in Pakistan condemn the anti-Islam film.

BY LEENA EL-ALI Washington, DC: In the past week, Muslim-Western relations have come back under the global media spotlight after widespread protests in several Middle Eastern, Asian and African countries. Most people find the video that sparked the protests, Innocence of Muslims, to be indeed insulting to Islam and Muslims. At the same time many people in the United States and elsewhere have emphasised that it is nonetheless an inviolable expression of free speech, and have suggested that it can at best simply be ignored. Indeed, a huge number of Muslims agree. We have seen this tension play out before,…