A Selfie to end all selfies?

18 Apr

Ellen DeGeneres’s “Selfie” from this year’s Oscar ceremony is the most famous selfie to date. According to ABC news, it was “the most retweeted tweet ever”

Since then, there have been a host of other “selfies” by celebrities, and politicians. The trend has been unstoppable.

The question is: will this apparent selfie be the one that ended all selfies?

Note the dark, self-made mark on his forehead. Harley Davidson riders get tattoos to show their loyalty to motorcycle riding and to their group, Iran’s ultra religious press their head so hard on the prayer stone until they get a bruise. Why? To show off their “piety” and loyalty to their religion.


BBC Podcast: The Rise and Fall of Arab Nationalism

17 Apr

The Arab world fascinates me, especially its rich history, culture, as well as the challenges and the opportunities which it faces.

Its also important as part of my job to follow events in the Arab world. What happens there impacts both Iran and Israel.

This morning, I listened to a podcast called “The Rise and Fall of Arab Nationalism”.

In the podcast Egyptian author Tarek Osmant:

 uncovers the history of the modern Arab world by tracing some of the great political dreams that have shaped it, from the 19th Century to the Arab Spring. Throughout the series, he focuses on two countries that are currently high on the news agenda – Egypt and Syria

You can find out the rest by listening to the podcast here

I highly recommend it.

President Abbas: what are you waiting for?

16 Apr

Two nights ago, off duty Israel Police Chief Superintendent Baruch Mizrahi was killed in his car.

According to the JTA:

Mizrahi, 47, a father of five, was shot and killed while driving with his family to a Passover seder in the Jewish community in Hebron. His wife, who was in the car with him, and their 9-year-old son, who was in another car, also were wounded.

It’s not yet clear who was responsible. The security forces have not yet managed to find any suspects.

Despite that, what we can all agree on, is that this is terrorism, in its ugliest form. Shooting people who are travelling in cars packed full of women and children is horrendous and reprehensible. Such an act must be condemned immediately by all sides.

But Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has decided to wait until a full investigation of the incident was completed, and only then to condemn the killing.

What does he need to wait for? Why doesn’t Abbas condemn the killing by calling it a crime, no matter who was responsible? What exactly does he hope to gain from his “patience”? Who is he trying to please, the Palestinian extremists?

As a long time supporter of the establishment of a viable Palestinian state next to the state of Israel as part of a fair and just deal, I must say that I find Mahmoud Abbas’s behaviour regarding this matter disturbing and objectionable.

Mr Abbas, think about what you are doing, and the very negative message which you are sending to Israelis who want to live in peace with you.

Former Mossad Director Dagan speaks at Harvard

15 Apr

In my opinion, former Mossad Director Meir Dagan is one of the best strategic thinkers in Israel.

Whenever he gives an interview, I always listen. When he speaks, you know that his statements are coming from a background and experience, which only a few people in Israel have had.

What I like about Meir Dagan the most is that he thinks long-term.

Here he is, at a recent roundtable at Harvard University’s Belfer Center, alongside former Director of the CIA David Petraeus, and current Belfer Center Director Graham Allison. I am also a big fan of David Patreus’s writings.

The issues discussed are: the current peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, the divisions within the Palestinian political parties, the Palestinian diaspora and the divisions within Israel over the peace process. This is in addition to the talks between Iran and the P5+1.

This roundtable is definitely worth watching. Very concise and insightful.

6 Passover questions

14 Apr

The Jewish festival of Passover starts tonight. Jews worldwide will commemorate and celebrate the exodus of Jews from slavery in Egypt to freedom in the first state of Israel (we are currently living in the third).

Part of the Passover tradition consists of eating Matzah, which is unleavened bread. The reason being that the Jews were in such a hurry to leave Egypt that they did not have sufficient time to prepare the bread and to cook it properly. So we eat Matzah for seven days to commemorate this.

We also have a special meal (called seder) where each item we eat is related to the festival and to our wishes for the future.

The other part of the festival, which takes place during the meal is asking questions. Four questions to be exact.

In line with this tradition, here are some questions of my own with regards to this festival:

  1. as well as bring a prophet, was Moses the first ever Workers Union leader?
  2. was the Exodus the first ever mass Walkout?
  3. could the Ten Commandments be also considered as the first ever Workers Charter? (it did after all give a day’s rest to everyone)
  4. was the Manna (the food which God send to Jews in the desert) the first ever food stamp program?
  5. For seven days of Passover, Jews can’t drink beer, eat bread or any other grain products. Is Passover the first ever religious no-carbs dieting festival? Is God trying to tell us something?
  6. If Moses is really the father of all Jews and his descendants live in Florida, when he arrived on the shores of the Nile, how come he didn’t ask for a nice cruise? A well deserved holiday after all the stresses of moving, don’t you think? certainly easier than splitting the Red Sea!

This should do for now. I will write more as I think of more questions.

I enclose with the Matzah rap.

Happy Passover everyone.



Iranian mothers and the ancient art of slipper throwing

11 Apr

This April fools day, in Birmingham England, a young Iranian guy with the help of his sister decided to play a prank on his mother. She was visiting from Iran.


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Old Iranian slippers- AKA – Dampayee

He told her that he was seeing a Spanish girl who was 5 years older than him, and that she was pregnant. They filmed the whole thing.


Before he knew it, he was getting the treatment which many of us in Iran know about, and its the dampayee treatment. Dampayee means slippers in Persian, and Iranian mothers know how to use them. Forget UAVs and sniper rifles, these things are more accurate when operated by an experienced Iranian mother.


In his “Delirious” stand up comedy tour in the 1980, Eddie Murphy tells the tale of his mother being a female John Wayne with a shoe.


Forget it Eddie. African – American mothers are amateurs compared to Iranian mothers. What you went through was like a walk in a park. Your mother was good with a shoe? OK, so she was good with one shoe Eddie. One. OK, maximum two….Boo Hoo


Your Mum only had two shoes at her disposal. If she missed, that was it. The chamber was empty. Iranian mothers have at least five times more than that. Its like having a submachine gun magazine full of ammunition at the tip of her fingers.




You try living in an Iranian house where people take their shoes off before entering and leave them by the door Eddie. There are ten more shoes by the door. Where as in your case by the time your mum looked for a new pair, you could have made it to another town. Not us. It was like a shoe Kalashnikov firing at all directions.


Watch out for Iranian mothers and slippers. And remember that playing dodge ball can help in more ways than one.

Now lets hear about how you had it easy Eddie…:-)

#Iran Geopolitics 101

10 Apr

At the beginning of my course, I always start with Iran‘s geopolitics. The first thing my students learn is about Iran‘s geopolitical characteristics, and how geography has had an impact on its history, and its present.

Today I came across this short video report about Iran’s geopolitics.

There are some mistakes regarding the pronunciations and the population of Iranian Azeris (it says there are 25 million, but in reality the number is closer to half of that).

Nevertheless, for a 7 minute video, it does a good job of explaining the important points regarding Iranian geopolitics.


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