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“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Posts Tagged ‘Salam Fayyad

Twitter, The Middle East And Racism in Italy.

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I find Twitter very useful for keeping up with events.

Of course, there is the danger of too much information and keeping track of things is sometimes hard. Still, certain issues deserve scrutiny, so here’s a selection of a few things I came across on Twitter recently.

Racism in Italy, or in any part of Europe is not new but the HRW’s documenting of it makes depressing reading, as if no lessons have been learnt:

“Instances of horrific racist violence in Italy have been widely reported on in the past several years. Some of the more notorious incidents include the October 2008 brutal beating of a Chinese man by a group of youngsters as he waited for a bus in Tor Bella Monaca, a district of Rome that has seen numerous attacks on immigrants. In this case, the attackers shouted racist insults, such as “shitty Chinaman.”[75] Seven teenagers were arrested hours after the incident.[76]

In February 2009, two adults and a 16-year-old attacked an Indian man in Nettuno, near Rome, beating him and then dousing him with gasoline and setting him on fire.[77] All three were convicted without the aggravating circumstance of racial motivation.[78] In May 2009, a Senegalese actor named Mohamed Ba was knifed in the stomach as he waited for the tram in MIlan.[79] Ba’s aggressor has never been identified or apprehended, according to Ba and a close personal friend.[80]

The focus on of immigration issues for political ends in an increasingly diverse society has created an environment for open expression of racist and xenophobic sentiment. “A particular kind of language has been dusted off … making it so that openly racist expressions in everyday conversation don’t provoke any kind of concern,” according to Deputy Jean-Léonard Touadi.[81] Francesca Sorge, a lawyer in a firm that represents victims of discrimination and racist violence, agreed, saying that “phrases like, ‘You foreigners go away,’ are taken as part of the common lexicon of normal urban rudeness.”[82]”

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Safer Than Arafat.

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I ran across this piece on Salam Fayyad, who is called the Palestinian Ben-Gurion. I don’t know yet, but I thought that the end of this bit was funny:

Throughout the 1990s, poverty was endemic in the West Bank, and yet Arafat and his wife, Suha, lived like royalty. The International Monetary Fund estimated that from 1995 to 2000 Arafat stole $900 million from the Palestinian Authority. Fayyad, with his advanced degrees, Italian suits, and reputation for incorruptibility, set to work modernizing and un-corrupting this third-world political economy. In 2003, he gave an interview to Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes in which he accused Arafat of using a network of monopolies in commodities like flour and cement to siphon off most of the cash. According to David Samuels, who wrote about Arafat’s reign of corruption in a 2005 profile in The Atlantic, “the price of a ton of cement in Gaza [was] $74, of which $17 went into Arafat’s private bank account.” The biggest sieve, though, was the Petroleum Corporation, which operated as a P.A. slush fund. “If there was not money in the treasury, [Arafat] went to the Petroleum Corporation,” Fayyad told Stahl.

Ultimately, Fayyad shut down the petroleum company, prompting speculation that he would be murdered by vengeful agents of the PLO. What saved Fayyad’s life was a mixture of morality and cunning: in one of his first major reforms as finance minister, he started paying P.A. security forces by direct deposit. Previously, they’d been paid in cash, and officials who handled that cash—including even P.A. ministers—routinely skimmed from it. By popular estimate, 50 percent of P.A. security personnel’s income was stolen every pay cycle, so Fayyad’s switch to direct deposit effectively doubled their salaries. “After that,” Barnett said, “when Salam walked down the street, even in Gaza, the police saluted him. He was probably safer than Arafat.”

Written by modernityblog

17/12/2009 at 02:21

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