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mardi 19 juin 2018


On first reckoning, you would think that these two countries have nothing in common. One is in South East Asia, predominantly Muslim, upper end on the development scale; the other a small island the other side of the world, communist, with very high standards of Education and Medical Care. Both have a modicum of Democracy, but Malaysia is not a one party state.
Dr. Mahathir is known as a Fox among even the most cunning of politicians.
Recently at the age of 92 he was reelected as PM of Malaysia defeating a well oiled machinery of the long governing Muslim dominated party, where the former PM and his cronies stole about a billion dollars worth of Government money. Dr. Mahathir promises to rectify these mistakes
But he had not forgotten his old ally, Cuba

In 2003, when the Non Aligned Government heads of state met in KL, Fidel Castro was healthy and present and I remember a photo of them together at the Malaysian Embassy (resulted from that meeting). The wily Dr. M, as he is known, used his good offices with Fidel; to prod the Americans, gain some respect in the process.
Fidel in return promised 45 medical scholarships to deserving Malaysian students and opening of an Embassy in KL. I had met two of the last four Malaysian Ambassadors to Cuba, Joji Samuel who is now his country's ambassador to Thailand and Omar Khairy who became a good friend and the last three out of four Cuban ambassadors to Malaysia have been my friends: Pedro Monzon, Carlos Amores and Ibete Fernandez.
Whenever I am in KL, I try to stop by the Embassy for a chat or we share a coffee or a meal. Each of these ambassadors is extraordinary , as Cuba is very selective on who represents the country abroad and I have learned a lot from them.
This morning, a good friend of mine from KL, sent me this link to an article in the New York Times about Dr. Mahathir Mohammed and what he is trying to accomplish in that debt ridden, corruption wrapped country.
In the article, there are four photographs, I am sure carefully chosen, symbolically the three of them are representing the Islamic values of the country, where you see Mahathir or his assistants dressed in traditional Islamic way of the Malay people (which by the way is quite recent that is another story) and the only other picture shows Dr. Mahathir receiving the Cuban Ambassador to Malaysia, Mrs. Ibete Fernandez.

I looked at the symbolism of this photo and its context.
NYT is a widely read and the most respected newspaper in the USA. Dr. Mahathir is no friend of Trump and is aware of his anti-Cuban policies. By showing the only political photo in this article in the most prestigious daily newspaper in USA, where people would see him receiving the Cuban Ambassador to his country is a manoeuvre by the clever Dr. Mahathir. An Average Malaysian who may not see this article (even though it came to me from a Malaysian friend of mine), lots of Americans would see it and read it and would see the photo of my friend Ibete, who is the Cuban Ambassador with Dr. Mahathir, thus emphasizing the symbolism of friendship over distance from Cuba and how we value friendships when the country closest to Cuba maintains such a hostile attitude towards Cuba.
I enjoyed reading the article and seeing the photo of Cuban Ambassador with Dr. Mahathir

vendredi 15 juin 2018


 Three days of Eating in Haifa on a recent visit to Israel.


A Psychiatrist's Elegy for Anthony Bourdain
Robert A. Berezin, MD
June 13, 2018

The heart of another is a dark forest, always, no matter how close it has been to one's own. – Willa Cather
I can't call him Tony because I never met him. He is Anthony to me. I only know him from his show, Parts Unknown. I never read Kitchen Confidential, which is now next on my list. Yet I felt like he was my friend.
His death left us all in shock and horror. It felt like such a betrayal. He was this profane Buddha. He was Walt Whitman. He brought us together with the elegant basics: good food and good company. He taught us that we are all one behind our races, our languages, our cultures, our palates. He was giving and generous. He listened. He was a citizen of the world, welcome at every table. Cultural differences added spice to our cuisines. I'm sure he'd agree that we should all intermarry but keep our ethnic foods.
His grisly suicide seemed so outside the realm of possibility. But maybe not. The secret is, character always plays true. He had the talent, and discipline, to follow his passion and become a master chef. And yet, something always lurked back there. He was a bad boy who never quite reformed from sex, drugs, and rock and roll. It haunted us imperceptibly. It showed through like a pentimento. The heroin addiction was back there. He always had the presence of mind to correctly say it was not a disease. He took responsibility for his actions.
He spoke the truth with that quiet smoky voice, from his cigarette-fueled past. He walked around in that tattoo-stained body. He continued to drink and smoke weed with the best of them. Despite his fearlessness, he always seemed wistful. Despite his martial arts, I felt a fragility.
Only Left to Speculate
I don't really know what happened. I don't know what darkness lingered there. As a psychiatrist, I'm the first person to say that the public has no idea about the real story behind the story. We all have our impressions, our projections, our fantasies, but we have no idea.
In watching him on television, you could sense his aloneness, while the world invited him to their table, as he engaged in that charming way he had. In retrospect, his significant suicidalness after his first divorce may have foreshowed things to come. We hoped this was behind him. Certainly he'd grown up since then. He still made references to suicide. One never outgrows the need for love.
He recently appeared very happy with his life. Relationship problems are the leading immediate cause of suicide, along with finances, failure, loneliness, and loss. But often this is not the real cause; rather, it's some internal darkness.
Our fantasies about Anthony Bourdain died with him. He was a wonderful and inspiring, but flawed, man. It's a huge deal that he was the father of an 11-year-old girl whom he abandoned and betrayed.
Now, again I reiterate, I don't know what caused the suicide. We are only left with speculation. Something else unimaginable may yet come to light.
A Disturbing Trend
We have a rising toll of suicides in our world today, characterized by extremely disturbing facts. In the United States, the suicide rate has gone up nearly 30% in the past 18 years, and suicide is now the 10th leading cause of death.[1]
This is a very complicated issue without simple causes or solutions. We have Internet bullying. We have too much loneliness and isolation. We have families in dissolution. We have a preponderance of psychiatric treatments that now ignore the heart and soul of what it is to be human. Life is difficult and requires struggle, resilience, and caring to carry on.
One of the things I want to emphasize is that we are all individuals. We have our own hidden worlds behind public perceptions. We have our own private motivations that others aren't privy to. Suicide weakens the faith of others to keep on going and embrace the struggle that is life. Suicide is contagious. It makes the survivors feel guilty. It makes us feel that there is something we could have and should have done. The effect is to put blood on our hands where it doesn't belong. I hope those close to him come through this misplaced guilt.
Bourdain's suicide is particularly disturbing and undermining because he seemed to embody the courage to go on and fight, put your demons behind you, and make the world a better place. He seemed to have arrived. He seemed to embody helping people connect and not be so alone. Food is love. He was a humanitarian who bridged differences and brought truth and beauty to the world.
I'm so angry that he did this. And I will miss him like he was someone that I know and love.
·       ead Comments

Cite this article: A Psychiatrist's Elegy for Anthony Bourdain - Medscape - Jun 13, 2018.



Recently I had the chance to taste Hummus at Resto Said's, in the Akko Souq. Said family have been serving Hummus at this location from the Ottoman times and the only thing in the Menus is HUMMUS.. In Israel, when you ask for Hummus, they dont just bring you a dollop of tasty Hummus but there are other things that comes with it and one eats Hummus Lunch or even Dinner, which has much vegetables and of course the ever present Pita.
Pita etymologically may have originated in PANEM, of Latin Origin. In general any Flatbread is designated PITA and to say PITA BREAD would be erroneous as saying French Baguette Bread!
My younger brother is a Foodie par excellence and he is demonstrating the proper way to eat Hummus..

Bon Apetite!

dimanche 10 juin 2018


I was not aware of this book, nor of the reviewer a Canadian by the name of Bhupinder Singh.
I have reproduced the entire review for people interested in the indigenous view of the history of the USA. 
Most visitors or immigrants or long term residents of this country which the Indians call The Turtle Island never come across Indians, other than the stereotypical views propagated by popular media. Like all the other indigenous peoples, Indians are very private people, and it takes a long time before they open up their thoughts and feelings, being displaced in their own land, the last of the colonized people on earth

Book Review: Where did the Indians go?
January 11, 2016

By Bhupinder Singh
An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States
By Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
Beacon Press (2015)
In my many years of professional life in the US and Canada, I have worked with people from many nationalities but not encountered even one Indigenous person.
As I read through Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, it became easier for me to understand why this is so.
Dunbar-Ortiz delves into the history that is missing from the mainstream US history’s obsession with biographies of great men. Dunbar-Ortiz contends that the depopulation of the Indigenous people from around 100 million when Columbus reached the place was not just the result of diseases that the Europeans brought to the Americas, as is commonly perceived.
It is her well-argued conviction that it was the result of a genocide carried over the last five centuries.
Dunbar-Ortiz traces this bloody history, interspersed with insights that have been gathered over many decades of her work with her people – the Indigenous people of the Americas. She establishes in the book how this settler colonialism was carried out by importing large populations from Europe and letting them colonize large tracts of territory stolen from the natives.
This profit-based religion was the deadly weapon that the Europeans and settlers brought to the Americas even as it was couched under the garb of the “white man’s burden.” The original settlers of Massachusetts adopted an official seal in 1630 depicting “a near-naked native holding a harmless, flimsy-looking bow and arrow and inscribed with the plea, “come over and help us.”
Nearly 300 years later, the official seal of the US military veterans of the “Spanish American war” showed a naked woman kneeling before an armed US soldier and a sailor, with a US battleship in the background. One may trace this recurrent altruistic theme well into the early 21st century, when the United States continues to invade countries under the guise of “rescuing” them.
“The only good Indian is a dead Indian”
The 17th century Puritan settlers waged a war of annihilation with the Indigenous people –   slaughtering old men, women and children and burning down their homes. This kind of war was alien to the Indigenous peoples. According to their ways, warfare was highly ritualized, with quests aimed at attaining individual glory, not annihilating opponents.
This phase of killing was followed by the next phase – scalp hunting – when a price was placed on every dead Indian’s head.
Scalps and Indigenous children became means of exchange, currency, possibly even creating a black market. The settlers gave a name to the mutilated and bloody corpses they left in the wake of the scalp-hunts: redskins. In one instance, the white attackers decorated their weapons and caps with body parts – fetuses, penises, breasts, and vulvas. This way of war became the basis for the wars against the Indigenous across the continent into the late 19th century.
The British novelist and critic, D. H. Lawrence, conceptualized the US origin myth: “You have there the myth of the essential white America. All the other stuff, the love, the democracy, the floundering into lust, is a sort of by-play. The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer. It has never yet melted.”
Buffalo hunting, corporatization and colonialism
In an effort to create economic dependency and compliance in land transfers, the US policy directed the army to destroy the fundamental economic base of the Plains Nation – the buffalo. Buffaloes were killed to near extinction. Tens of millions of them were dead within a few decades, and by the 1880s, only a few hundred were left.
The logical progression of modern colonialism began with economic penetration, graduating first to a sphere of influence, and then to protectorate status or indirect control, military occupation, and finally annexation. Growing protectorate status established through treaties culminated in the 1868 Sioux treaty, followed by military occupation achieved by extreme exemplary violence, such as at Wounded Knee in 1890, and finally dependency.
The collusion of big business and government in the theft and exploitation of Indigenous lands and resources is the core element of colonization and forms the basis of US wealth and power. By the end of the 19th century, Indigenous communities had little control over their resources or their economic situations, receiving only royalties for mining and leasing, funds held in trust in Washington. The historian Matthew King believed that his people’s country had been a colony of the United States since 1890. Annexation by the United States was symbolically marked by the imposition of US citizenship on the Sioux (and most other Indians) in 1924.
From colonialism to imperialism
The American act of decimating the Indigenous people has been extended to the rest of the world as the US has invaded country after country, causing devastation and death – all in the name of freedom. Irregular warfare initially waged against the Indigenous people would continue in US military interventions overseas, from the Philippines and Cuba to central America, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The cumulative effect goes beyond simply the habitual use of military means and has become the very basis for US-American identity. Dunbar-Ortiz’s sharp gaze connects disparate incidents into a holistic pattern.
She quotes the Lakota scholar Elizabeth Cook Lynn who spelt out the connection between the “Indian wars” and the Iraq War: “The current mission of the United States to become the center of political enlightenment to be taught to the rest of the world began with the Indian wars and has become the dangerous provocation of this nation’s historical intent.”
History from the eyes of the survivor
Two decades of collective Indigenous resistance, culminating at Wounded Knee in 1973, defeated the 1950s federal termination policy. Yet, another move toward termination developed in 1977, with dozens of congressional bills to abrogate all Indian treaties and terminate all Indian governments and trust territories. Indigenous resistance, however, defeated those initiatives as well.
Eric Hobsbawm once remarked that it is those who lose that understand history better because they need to understand why they lost. He quoted another historian Reinhard Kosselck: In the long run, the gains in historical understanding have come from the defeated.
This is more than borne out by An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States.
That the Indigenous people of North America have survived five centuries since the arrival of the Europeans is a tribute to their resilience and courage. Dunbar-Ortiz’s well-researched and honest attempt to understand American history from the eyes of those who lost not only brings to light their perspective but enlightens us far more than any perspective from the victor’s eyes would.
Bhupinder Singh
 blogs at A Reader’s Words.
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