Yes, We Have No Bananas

Yes, We Have No Bananas
A Fable by S. Langfur

One fine morning Melvin Tucker woke up to find himself transformed into a middle-sized Zionist. He was lying on his back, an unusual position for him, and he thought perhaps this was the reason. He turned over, embraced his wife and slept again, but on waking a second time, he found his condition had worsened. He rose from the bed and gazed into a mirror. There was a barely perceptible change in the curve of his upper lip, as though he were withdrawing it, about to answer an accusation. Apart from that, he could see nothing different.

"Tuck, what's the matter?" asked his wife from the bed.

"What's the matter!" said Melvin. "What other country in the world would show restraint when fanatics enter its cities from the neighboring territory and blow themselves up, killing dozens of innocent civilians, and the neighboring authority does nothing to prevent this? What other country would endure a situation where people of the neighboring territory fire on its capital � people whom the country in question itself has armed in a good faith peace-seeking agreement?"

"Tuck!" said his wife. "That's Zionism!"

Melvin lowered his head.

Mrs. Tucker reached for the phone.

Later that day in the doctor's office, she asked her husband to repeat his words about no other country in the world. He did so.

"The facts you state are true and sad," said the doctor. "They don't make you a Zionist. You might have heard someone say those things on the news. You worked them over in your sleep. You began to feel strongly about them. Nothing abnormal."

"But we never get involved in politics," interjected Mrs. Tucker. "We know there are always two sides to every story."

The doctor leaned back in his chair, raising his hands and joining the tips of his fingers. "Let's have a closer look," he said. He turned a penetrating sideways glance on Melvin. "Tell me this, Mr. Tucker. What other country in the world plants settlements inside a neighbor's territory? How can a country expect to keep suicide bombers from sneaking in, if it's always refused to establish its borders? How can said country expect such bombers not to exist, when it grinds their people down for generations? As for the firing on its capital, what if the part thus fired on consists of land that the country in question robbed from those who are firing? What else did you say? Oh, the good-faith peace-seeking agreement � but enough for the moment. How do you answer these questions?"

Melvin smiled in relief. "Thank you, doctor! I'm much better now! That felt so strange � like a radio talking out of my mouth. You know, we've never been to the country in question. Couldn't find it on the map. Couldn't even spell it."

The couple stood to leave, but suddenly a troubled look came over Melvin's face. He sat back down. "We are a small people," he said.

"Oh, Lord!" said Mrs. Tucker.

"We have been persecuted through the ages," said Melvin. "We have always been victims." He stood again and walked about the room, making karate chops in the air. "We are victims! Victims!"

"He never makes karate chops," said Mrs. Tucker.

"We must have our own state," Melvin said, "so these things will never happen again We have come back to the land from which we were exiled 2000 years ago� ."

"Whoah!" said the doctor. "Who exiled you?"

Melvin looked blank for a moment. He sat back down in his chair and frowned, consulting deeply within himself. "The Romans," he said.

"The Romans!" said the doctor. "When did the Romans exile you? I have visited the country in question. There are remains of synagogues from throughout the Roman period. There was no such exile."

"But I keep feeling we were exiled!" said Melvin.

"You'll get over it, dear," said Mrs. Tucker. "Remember, you're not even Jewish."

"We are a small country of victims in a sea of Arabs! Besides, they're all anti-Semites! Nazis!"

"My dear Mr. Tucker," said the doctor, "it is true that one of their leaders tried in vain to ally with Hitler, but on the basis of this you punish an entire people? If you must punish someone, why not the Germans? Occupy a Bundesland. Or take something from the Italians. They were real Nazi allies. Or the Japanese. I don't see the country in question putting closure on Fiats, Subarus or Volkswagens. Its roads are full of them. As a matter of fact, the only American car they buy is Ford, whose founder wrote one of Hitler's favorite anti-Semitic books. Take over Ford, why don't you?"

"I still feel it, doctor. It's the land of our forefathers, the land God promised!"

The doctor reached for his prescription pad and wrote at length. Then he raised his eyes and spoke. "Yours, Mr. Tucker, is a rare condition nowadays, but on the basis of this examination, I'm afraid you do have a touch of Zionism. There is a treatment center in Puerto Rico. They use the banana technique, and they report a degree of success." He finished writing and handed him the referral.

Much to Mrs. Tucker's chagrin, she was not allowed into the treatment center. "This is a road," said the specialist, "that your husband must go alone." His name was Dr. Flappan. He gave her the address of a nearby support group for spouses of Zionists.

After the registration procedures, Dr. Flappan led Melvin to a little room with a window. This afforded a view into what appeared to be a converted gymnasium. It was full of people who were yanking at coconuts. That is, they had their hands inside the coconuts, which were fastened by chains to iron stakes that were bolted to the floor. There was also a monkey doing this.

"What are they doing?" asked Melvin.

"Well," said the doctor, "it's the old monkey-catching trick from India. That's why we have the monkey there, as an example. You make a hole in a coconut just big enough so the monkey's hand can get in. Then you put a banana inside and tie the coconut to a stake in the ground. The monkey comes along, sees the banana, sticks in its hand and grabs it. But the hole isn't big enough, see, for it to pull its hand out as long as it's grasping the banana. In order to escape, it would have to let the banana go. That is exactly what the monkey cannot do. It keeps trying to run, just as you see it doing there � just as they are doing. It knows the monkey-trapper is coming. It hears his footsteps, smells him, eventually it even sees him. But the monkey cannot bring itself to let go of the banana. In this way it is caught."

"But," said Melvin, "these are people! They know enough to let go of the banana!"

"Of course they do."

"So why do they behave like this? It's awful! Frightening!"

"Yes, indeed it is frightening, Mr. Tucker. For you see, in their coconuts you will find no bananas."

"No bananas!"


"What then?"

"What do you think?"

"I can't think of anything � diamonds or precious pearls � that would keep me such a prisoner."

"Well, let's go ask them."

The good doctor opened a door beside the window, and at once sound flooded in. The appearance of the visitors seemed to arouse the captives, and they all rushed hither and thither, grunting and crying out piteously as the clenched hands inside their coconuts brought them to a groaning halt.

The doctor told Melvin to wait for calm. "It's so exciting for them when a stranger appears," he said. "It gives them hope that someone will join them. They always need new members."

"But some were trying to run away."

"Oh, yes, there are those too. They thought you might belong to the other side."

"There's another side?"

The doctor laughed. "Indeed there is, Mr. Tucker! But for the most part it's invisible. At least they don't see it. Nor do you, I think, in your present condition. But now it is quiet. I think you can talk to one of them."

There was a noble-looking old man with a great forehead and silver hair combed back on both sides. He had beautiful curved eyebrows, like the sound-holes in a violin. The eyes beneath sparkled with friendliness, reminding Melvin of Simon the Likeable, a villain from a TV series of his youth. Simon, as we shall call him, kept slipping his hand in and out of the coconut, as though he could leave it and walk away. "Let's talk to him," said Melvin. "He looks nice."

"We'll save him for later," said the doctor. "Start with that fellow." And he led Melvin toward a formidable-looking bearded character who looked like something out of the Bible. This man kept yanking angrily at his coconut. Occasionally he lifted it to his mouth and gnawed at the sides of the hole in an apparent attempt to enlarge this, though he merely succeeded in bloodying the back of his hand.

"Sir," said Melvin, "what in the world do you have in that coconut? I couldn't imagine anything � diamonds or pearls � that could keep me such a prisoner as you."

"Prisoner! I am not a prisoner!" bellowed the man in a rich deep voice. "Behold!" In a swift gesture of defiance, he loosened his grip on whatever it was and whipped his hand from the hole, delivering the coconut up to Melvin's eyes � though not letting go.

Melvin peered inside. He tried several angles. He saw nothing. He thought that perhaps the lighting was bad.

"May I touch?" he asked.

"Are you Jewish?" asked the man in return.

"I was born Episcopalian," said Melvin. "But I don't really believe in all that stuff, and I have great sympathies for the Jewish people."

"I'm sorry," said the man. "I hope you will understand. We have endured many centuries of 'No Jews allowed!' Now at last, on this piece of land� " he shook the coconut before Melvin's nose � "we have the chance to say, "No goys allowed!"

"But," said Melvin, "I don't see anything."

An anxious flicker passed over the bearded man's face. He turned the hole of the coconut toward himself and looked inside. At once the harsh expression softened. His eyes grew large and moist with joy. Gazing into his coconut, he looked childlike, beatific, more angel than man, and Melvin was struck with admiration, thinking, "Indeed, this is no prisoner! How cruel of me to say there's nothing there, when it gives such satisfaction!"

"You do not see it," said the man, still peering into the coconut, "because you do not see with the eyes of faith. If you had my eyes, and the eyes of some of the others in this room, you would see here a land of milk and honey, a land the Name cares for. The eyes of the Name are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end."

"Amen! Hallelujah!" shouted several of the others, who were also in Biblical garb � for they had come toward the conversing pair as closely as their coconuts would allow.

The prophet � as Melvin now thought of him � plunged his hand back in and raised the coconut like a torch. "The Name," he said, "gave this land as an inheritance to our forefathers forever. Now we have come back to it, replacing the vines with barbed wire, the fruit trees with checkpoints, cutting the hills away for bypass roads, so that every man can sit in the shade of his helicopter and F-16. Do you think for a moment we would give up such a heritage � walk away and leave it here in a coconut for anybody? Never, sir! It is ours! If you had the eyes of faith, you would know there is no meaning in life without the Name, and the Name has given us this land to occupy and possess, to guard and to keep. More than we keep it, it keeps us!"

Well, those coconuts sure keep you, Melvin thought.

"You cannot expect a man," the prophet smiled, "to walk away and leave the thing that gives life meaning!"

"Amen! Hurrah!" the others shouted. These shouts became screeches of pain, however, for they had raised their arms to cheer.

Melvin and the doctor left them whimpering, tending their wrists. "Doctor," said Melvin, "I swear there was nothing in that coconut."

"Anyone who can believe the Bible literally, Mr. Tucker, after the events of the 20th century, can also believe there is something in the coconut."

"A cynical remark!" came a voice from behind. They looked back to see one of the cheerers. He was grasping his wrist, from which his coconut dangled. "The creation of our state! The Six-Day War! The return to our land � to all of our land! These are God's answers to what you so cynically term the events of the 20th century!"

Melvin wanted to talk to the man, but the doctor said, "No. Keep moving. He's dangerous."

"Why dangerous?" Melvin asked.

"He's willing to balance the murder of millions against the nothing he's got in that nut." Then the doctor added: "You see, Mr. Tucker, why they can't get free? They have to keep their version of God alive." The doctor grabbed his arm. "Not that way! There are people in front of you! I hope by the end of the day you will see them. Here, hold onto my shoulders and walk behind me."

Thus the doctor and Melvin made a slow and circuitous procession across the floor.

"We are passing millions, Mr. Tucker."

"My goodness!" said Melvin, "And I don't see them!"

"But they see you, sir. Not in the light you would like, perhaps, but they do see you!"

At length they reached a point where the doctor said he could walk more freely.

"Tell me, doctor," said Melvin, "Are all Zionists religious? I feel so out of place."

"No, that is why I have led you here. Behold!" The doctor waved his arm, and Melvin saw that the room was suddenly bigger than he had noticed. It stretched beyond his sight. It was full of people in all sorts of clothing, and some in hardly any at all, but each with a coconut.

"So many! So many!" said Melvin.

"Yes, there are more on this side," said the doctor. "Let's try this pair."

Two chic young women were sitting at a small round table eating frozen yogurts with spoons. They held their coconuts so casually on their laps, they might have been handbags.

"Fashionable ladies," said Melvin, "what in the world do you have in those coconuts? I couldn't imagine anything � diamonds or pearls � that could keep me such a prisoner as you."

"Oh, we're not prisoners!" said one of them. "We can leave these nuts at any time. We don't have anything in them, do we, Giselle."

"Could I have a look?" asked Melvin.

"Sure," said the one called Giselle. She removed her hand from the nut and offered it, without letting go, for Melvin's inspection.

He looked, but he didn't see anything. "How about a feel?"

"Go ahead," said Giselle. "You don't have to be Jewish."

So Melvin felt inside. "You're right," he said. "There's nothing."

"Why should there be?" said Giselle. "We're fair and free. Aren't we, Sue."

"We don't believe in ruling another people," said Sue.

"Us here, them there," said Giselle.

"As long as they don't have an army!" said Sue. "That's the only thing. After the way they've behaved!"

"Right, no army," said Giselle. "What do they need an army for? Who's gonna hurt them?"

Here the doctor inserted a word: "How you gonna keep them from getting weapons?"

"Well, we'll have to control the borders, that's elementary," said Sue.

"After the history we've had," Giselle added, "I think the world will understand."

"We were very generous at Camp David. We stretched our hand out in peace, and look how they slapped it!"

"That's right," said Giselle. "How can we trust them after that? We ought to get security. That's only fair. We'll give them everything back. All we want is to live in our own little state without fear."

"You'll give back East Jerusalem?" asked the doctor. "The Wall? The Temple Mount? The Old City? French Hill? Gilo? All those neighborhoods your government's built on conquered land?"

"Jerusalem's a special case," said Sue.

"They've got Mecca and Medina," said Giselle.

"There will have to be small adjustments," added Sue. "If they insist that all the settlements have to go, it shows they're not interested in peace."

"Besides," said Giselle, "if we gave it all back, it'd look like weakness, and then they'd just want more."

"So you take more," said the doctor, "to keep them from wanting more. But what about the refugees? Would you let them back to their homes in Haifa and Jaffa?"

"Oh, for goodness sakes!" said Giselle. "There are certain realities they have to accept! Those houses aren't even there anymore!"

"That's right," said Sue. "You can't turn the clock back 50 years."

"I know people," said the doctor, "who've been trying for 50 years to turn it back 2000."

"If you wanna have peace," said Giselle, "you have to be ready to compromise."

"Right," said Sue. "Compromise and co-existence. The problem is them. They don't wanna compromise."

The doctor took her frozen yogurt.

"Hey! That's mine!" said Sue.

"Let's compromise," he said. He wiped her spoon on a napkin and proceeded to eat.

"Wait a minute!" said Sue.

"Go ahead," said the doctor. "I'm listening. Here, Mr. Tucker, have one." He shoved Giselle's frozen yogurt over to Melvin.

"That's not fair!" said Giselle.

But the doctor continued to eat. "I await your offer," he said.

This action upset the young women. They stood and proceeded to leave, but their coconuts snapped them back. The chains were longer on this side of the room, Melvin noticed. He scarcely had time to finish Giselle's frozen yogurt.

"You've eaten our yogurts!" said Sue.

"Sorry," said the doctor, "but you had plenty of opportunities to compromise. There's nothing left but to co-exist." He burped.

The young women again turned away in disgust, but again their coconuts snapped them back. They struggled with them.

"Don't forget to pay for the yogurts," the doctor said. He ushered Melvin away.

"Weren't we rather cruel?" asked Melvin, wiping his mouth.

"I have to be," said the doctor. "They too are here for the cure, and therapy hurts. I am hoping someday they will see the point."

"What is the point?" asked Melvin. "They wouldn't have a state if they let the refugees back!"

"This may be true," said the doctor, "but the fact remains, those were their yogurts and we ate them. I don't have a solution for everything, Mr. Tucker. It's a pretty pickle they've got themselves into, and there may not be a solution. I do know this, though: there certainly won't be one until they see them. For the moment they still don't see them. Those women don't see them any more than the fanatics do. Do you begin to see them?" The doctor gestured to the east, and Melvin saw again the prophet and his friends, all straining at their coconuts. Around them, however, dim forms had begun to emerge.

"I see ghosts," he said.

"That's an improvement," said the doctor.

"Could we talk to Simon now?"

"Who's that?"

"The one that looks so noble and likeable. You promised."

"Oh, yes. Do you think you can navigate on your own?"

"I'll give it a try."

Hesitantly, carefully, Melvin followed the doctor at a distance, making his way around the dim but brightening forms. Finally he reached the stately old man, who shone so brilliantly, the forms seemed to vanish again.

"Oh, noble sir!" Melvin began.

"Nobel," the old man corrected him.

"Oh, Mr. Nobel," said Melvin, "what in the world do you have in that coconut? I couldn't imagine anything � diamonds or pearls � that could keep me such a prisoner as you."

"I am a prisoner, indeed. I shackle myself to the peace process."

"Now that's more like it!" exclaimed Melvin.

Simon the Nobel contemplated his coconut. "I could be bounded in a nutshell, sir, and count myself king of infinite space, were it not that I have marvelous dreams that would benefit all. Look here!"

He removed his hand from the hole and offered the latter to Melvin's eyes, though not letting go of the nut. Melvin saw a golden glow inside. He grew very excited. This time, he thought, there is something. On examination, however, it proved to be the reflection from Simon the Nobel's face.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Nobel," he said, "I don't see anything."

"That is because it doesn't exist yet. You must be able to see with an eye to the future."

"Oh, now I understand why the doctor wanted me to talk with you last," said Melvin. "Past, present, and future."

"If you stay with me and develop a futural eye, you will learn that the only way we can survive in this region is to normalize relations."

"Normalize!" said Melvin. "That sounds very good, after all I've seen!"

"They will have to accept us, we will have to accept them."

"How symmetrical!" said Melvin. "Like splitting the yogurt!"

"Shhh!" said Simon, looking anxiously about. "Don't mention splitting! Someone might think we were trying to split the you-know-what."


Simon leaned down to him and whispered in his ear: "You're better off not knowing. You see that man over there?" He indicated a nervous-looking fellow with an enormous coconut. "That's my assistant. You don't want to see what he's got in his!"

"What is it?" asked Melvin.

"Just a little project I had a modest part in. It rhymes with dukes. Dukes, pukes, flukes� Like, put up your dukes! Put up your nnnn�" He nodded eagerly at Melvin.

"Nukes?" tried Melvin.

"Shhhh!" said the gracious old man, placing his finger to his lips and glancing anxiously about. "We do not like to talk about that. We shall not be the first, I say, to introduce them into the region!"

"Well," said Melvin, with a wave toward the enormous coconut, "if that's not introducing, what is?"

"Until it goes off," said Simon the Nobel, "you haven't been properly introduced."

"I'd rather not be," said Melvin. "That's the ultimate suicide-bombing, seems to me."

"Let's change the subject," said Simon the Nobel. "Try looking into my nut again. I think your eyes may already be futural enough. You will see our country as the brains of the region."

Melvin looked, but still he saw nothing. He gestured toward the forms around him, which were nearly solid again, despite Simon's radiance. "What about them?"

"Who?" asked Simon.

"Them. All these. The ones without coconuts."

"Ah, they are the muscles. Together, brains and muscles, we shall make up one body among the great industrial regions of the world."

"What if they don't want to be muscles?" asked Melvin. "What if they want to be brains?"

"They don't have a choice. We are already here, and we are the brains. It's a reality they will have to accept. What's their alternative? They can't throw us into the sea. That's what my little project is for."

"But how do they know about your little project, if you don't tell them?"

"It's the Mae West question," Simon answered. "'Is that a gun in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?' We'll be glad to see them, and they'd better be glad to see us."

"Well, I don't know," said Melvin. "They don't look glad. I don't see how what you are doing can make them glad. What if they don't get glad enough? What if they keep on not being glad? If all you've got in the end is your little project�"


"In the words of Sam Goldwyn, 'Include me out.'"

Just then the monkey went scampering by. Melvin turned to the doctor. "Hey, doc, the monkey got loose!"

The doctor shrugged. "The banana rots by the end of the day. If only they had bananas, Mr. Tucker! Or anything else. It's this nothingness that's so hard to cure!"

Simon the Nobel gave a start. "What nothingness?" he asked. "This is where we live, doctor. It's not nothing to us. We don't have anywhere else."

"The trouble is," said the doctor, "you don't know where you live. You think you live in the Bible, you think you live in Europe, you think you live in a New Middle East. The one thing you don't know is where you live. Until you do, you've got nothing. When you take what does not belong to you, it turns what does to nothing."

Simon the Nobel glanced quickly into his coconut. A look of tranquility again crept over his sad and stately face.

The doctor sighed. "Come, Mr. Tucker, I have something else to show you. A little surprise." He led our hero a few steps further, and there was an unclaimed coconut with a nice fresh hole, chained to a nice fresh stake.

"This one is for you, Mr. Tucker," the doctor announced. Melvin's heart leaped. He picked it up and looked inside, and for the first time, much to his delight, he could see things. He saw the holy city of Jerusalem gleaming in gold. He saw the mountains and valleys of the biblical heartland. He saw the frozen yogurts of Tel Aviv. He saw the whole land pulsing with high-tech, linked to the other great nations of the globe. He saw happiness and splendor � a paradise on earth. As though in a trance, he inserted his hand and grasped it all. "I am one of them!" he thought. "I belong here!"

Just then, however, Melvin noticed the others around him, great masses of the coconutless. They kept fading in and out. For a moment they disappeared once more, and Melvin thought, "Ah! I can be happy!" But then they flickered again into presence, becoming as solid as people � indeed, they were people! A strange feeling crept down Melvin's arm to his hand in the nut. He felt as though he'd been caught doing something shameful. He quickly withdrew it.

"No, doctor," he said. "This is not my nut."

"I am glad to hear it," said the doctor. "I think we can leave now."

They headed toward the door. As the doctor opened it, a shout arose. It was the ones with coconuts. They were surging toward the opening in frenzy, only to be whipped back by their chains. They surged again and again, like the waves of the sea, with piteous cries of yearning.

"Let go!" Melvin shouted back from the threshold. "Just let go! There's nothing in there!"

But they merely kept surging, arrested each time, as if grabbed by their very own hands.


by courtesy & � 2001 Challenge Magazine & S. Langfur

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>> Revolution, Flashmobs and Brain Chips (the Guardian)
>> Soros Kicked AIPAC. Obama Kicks Soros. Let's Kick All Three (Lenni Brenner)
>> Intensify the Witch-hunt (David Keen)
>> Lebanon - What is behind the Conflict? (Yossi Schwartz)
>> Racism, Resistance and all that Jazz, Mamoon Alabbasi
>> A Trial Giving Kangoroos a Bad Name (Stephen Lendman)
>> US and British Imperialism Staring Defeat in the Face (Rob Lyon)
>> Lebanon II: The Wider Picture (Roni Ben Ifrat)
>> The Blair Docrtrine: blood and money (John Pilger)
>> The British Army is just Another Militia (Kamil Mahdi)
>> Governmnet Death Squads Ravaging Baghdad
>> Muhammad's Sword (Uri Avnery)
>> The First Post-Zionist War (Roni Ben Efrat)
>> "Every Generation of Arabs Hates Israel More Than the Last" (U. Avnery)
>> Protests against ban on Sindh Teachers' Union (PTUDC)
>> Nostalgic about the War ( and Starry Night (audio)
>> Hizballah: A Primer (Lara Deeb, Middle East Report)
>> Pakistan: Teachers Union banned (PTUDC)
>> How I Found Myself with the Islamic Fascists (J. Cook)
>> Misplaying the Islamic power game (Financial Times)
>> Beware! The Attack on Democracy and... (
>> G. Galloway on Sky News (audio/video)
>> To Israel with Love (The Economist)
>> Empire: War and Propaganda (John Pilger)
>> Is it a War on Islam? (Pervez Hoodbhoy)
"Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets." Napolean Bonaparte

Books (in English)
Overcoming Zionism, Joel Kovel
Myth and Reality in the Contemporary Islamist Movement, Fouad Zakariyya.
Iran on the Brink - Rising Workers and Threats of War, Andreas Malm & Shora Esmailian.
Filming the Modern Middle East - Politics in the Cinemas of Hollywood and the Arab World, Lina Khatib.
Occupied Minds - A Journey through the Israeli Psyche, Arthur Neslen.
Contemporary Arab Thought, Ibrahim Abu Rabi.
The Blood Never Dried: People's History of the British Empire, John Newsinger.
Merchant Capital and Islam, Mahmood Ibrahim.

See below and archive for previous shows content

Egypt - USA & Iran

"The U.S. news media have very little appetite for stories about Arabs who don't carry knives, shoot machine guns, launch grenades, or talk on gold-plated cell phones". Middle-east correspondent Rami G. Khouri
" News about the Egyptian workers' struggle never reaches European media."
Egypt: The Victory of Mahalla Workers Exposes the Weakness of Mubarak's Regime
The Militancy of Mahalla al-Kubra
Background interview and article >> Listen to the interview >> Read article

US Imperialism and the Iranian Regime: Ready for War or Peace?
>> Listen to the talk , part of MEP show of 04 October 2007

Recent interviews

Middle East Panorama on Resonance FM Radio
Wednesday between 21:00 to 22:00 GMT
(repeated on Sunday between 12:00 - 13:00 GMT)

104.4 FM or

Wither Pakistan?

" The crisis is so intense today that never in the history of Pakistan has anyone seen such confusion, perplexity and bewilderment in society. The media, pseudo-intellectuals and analysts are adding to this confusion. They are raising all kinds of secondary issues, such as the judicial crisis, the Red Mosque, the Musharraf-Benazir deal, the return and re-exile of Nawaz Sharif, the uniform of the President, frivolous statements by American diplomats and presenting them as key issues in the minds of the masses...
"In the last three years the section of the ruling class in power has had loans worth Rs.33 billion waived and at the same time it has received subsidies to the tune of Rs.24 billion. This blatant theft of Rs.57 billion was to the benefit of just 1122 feudal lords, industrialists and businessmen. Among them 11 industrialists alone plundered Rs12.3 billion in 2003 from the State." Read full article

Play War

Watch Play War: A three-minute long film in which two kids are playing with army figures and arguing about whether the civilians are “enemy insurgents” or “innocent civilians.”

"Overcoming Zionism": Interview with Joel Kovel

Interview with Joel Kovel, author of Overcoming Zionism: Creating a Single Democratic State in Israel/Palestine (Pluto Press 2007). Kovel is currently editor-in-chief of Capitalism Nature Socialism. “The Overcoming of Zionism is its dissoultion,” states Kovel. Here he elaborates on issues like the linkage between Zionism and capital, class struggle and nationalism, and the inviability of a two-state solution. An interview conducted by Nadim Mahjoub for Resonance FM Radio, 04 July 2007

>> Quote: "No state is given to a people on a silver platter." (The Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann)

7/7 Bombings Then & Now - Vanunu Jailed Again

Middle East Panorama show on Resonance FM 104.4
Every Friday 14:00 - 15:00 London Time (GMT)

Milan Rai, an anti-war activist and author of 7/7: The London Bombings, Islam and the Iraq War, and Martin Jacques, columnist, writer and currently a visiting fellow at the London School of Economics Asia Centre, speak on 7/7 bombings, war, terrorism, the Muslims, and the media.

On July 02 Mordechai Vanunu, the Israeli whistleblower who served 18 years in prison for revealing Israeli nuclear secrets, was sentenced to six months in prison "for violating a ban on speaking to foreigners." MEP conducted an interview with Vanunu in April 2005. Listen to the repeat and to Yoel Cohen, author of The Whistleblower of Dimona: Israel, Vanunu and the Bomb. >> Yoel Cohen's interview

Quote: "Iraq has reached advanced societal breakdown, with ethnic cleansing on a regional, neighbourhood and even street-by-street basis. There has been a mass exodus of its professionals and managers, civil servants and entrepreneurs, a haemorrhage of its future. The time for the occupying authorities to have surged was 2003, after the fall of Baghdad; like everything they have tried since, this is far too little, much too late. The US deployed a similar number of troops last summer to "lock down" Baghdad, since when the number of killed in the capital alone has rocketed to more than 100 a day, while on average an attack occurs against Anglo-American forces every 10 minutes, and this in a fight now mainly between the minority Sunni deposed from power and the hitherto dispossessed Shia majority drunk with it." The Financial Times, 11 January 2007

Divide & Rule - In Iraq's Four-Year Looting Frenzy - Music of War & Resistance

Middle East Panorama show on Resonance FM 104.4
Every Friday 14:00 - 15:00 London Time (GMT)

"Can the Arab World be Turned into Gaza's Jailers?" asks the British journalist Jonathan Cook. The author of "Blood and Religion: The Unmasking of the Jewish and Democratic State" argues that the aim of the sanctions by Israel and the US was not to bring about the fall of Hamas. Cook also draws parallels between Iraq and Gaza. >> Listen to the interview

"British and American collusion in the pillaging of Iraq's heritage is a scandal that will outlive any passing conflict," writes Simon Jenkins in the Guardian. >> Read the article

Music of war and resistance by Zaineb Shaath, Billy Bragg, Boris Vian, Tom Lehrer, the Group of Musical Research, Marcel Khalife ...

Welcome to 'Palestine' - "Hollow Land"

Middle East Panorama show on Resonance FM 104.4
Every Friday 14:00 - 15:00 London Time (GMT)

Welcome to Palestine: How do we deal with a coup d'etat by an elected government? Robert Fisk.

See also Palestine in Suicide by Roni Ben Efrat

Hollow Land - Israel's Architecture of Occupation. A talk by Eyal Weizman, architect and Director of the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths College, University of London, and author of "Hollow Land". "Devotees of the latest nuances of postmodernist styles," wrote Stirling Howieson in his review of 'Hollow Land', "will be disappointed with Weizman's book, for this is not about changing architectural fashions in hot arid climates. Hollow Land is the work of an architect chronicling the physical occupation and colonisation of Palestine by Zionism - in all its forms." The School of African and Oriental Studies, London 13 June 2007.
>> Listen to the whole show

Quote: "When the first English settlers moved into Indian land in Massachusetts Bay and were resisted, the violence escalated into war with the Pequot Indians. The killing of Indians was seen as approved by God, the taking of land as commanded by the Bible. The Puritans cited one of the Psalms, which says: "Ask of me, and I shall give thee, the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the Earth for thy possession." (The American historian, Howard Zinn)

Gaza and Beyond - The War Economy of Iraq

Middle East Panorama show on Resonance FM 104.4
Every Friday 14:00 - 15:00 London Time (GMT)

Mahmood Abbas, the Palestinian president, described the situation in the Gaza Strip as "madness" and called for an immediate halt to the violence. Polonius in Shakespeare’s Hamlet replied: “Though this be madness, there is method in’t.” >> Yossi Schwartz from Haifa, Israel
>> Article: Crocodile Tears by Uri Avnery

Quote: "That is not a matter of Islamic fundamentalism. In this respect all nations are the same: they hate collaborators of a foreign occupier, whether they are Norwegian (Quisling), French (Petain) or Palestinian." (Uri Avnery, June 2007)

A speech by the Minister of Information in the Palestinian Authority. It was part of a rally organized by Enough!, a coalition of over 50 charities, trade unions, father and other faith groups. The rally took place in Trafalgar Square on 09th of June. >> Listen here

War and profit,” argue Christopher Parker and Pete W. Moore, “have always gone hand in hand. In Iraq, as well, a “war economy” is firmly rooted, yet it has gone largely unexamined in the stacks of books and articles dissecting Washington’s grandiose venture gone bad.” (Middle East Report No 243) Interview with C. Parker, assistant professor of political and social science at Ghent Univeristy in Belgium. >> Listen here >> Read article: The War Economy of Iraq

Iraq Oil Strike - Behzad Yaghmaian

Middle East Panorama show on Resonance FM 104.4
Every Friday 14:00 - 15:00 London Time (GMT)

Barely reported: Workers from the Iraqi Pipelines Company in Basrah, Iraq, began a strike on 04 June. Two days later Prime minister Nouri al-Maliki issued a warrant for the arrest of the Federation of Oil Unions' leaders. Soon the Iraqi military surrounded striking Basra oil pipeline workers. MEP interviews Sami Ramadani from the unions's UK-based support committee and Jim Catterson from the 20-million-member International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions. >> Interview with S. Ramadani >> Interview with J. Catterson

"Bonded at Birth: How a CIA Coup d'Etat in Iran and my Life Became One." Behzad Yaghmaian, an Iranian-born author living in the US and professor at Ramapo College in New Jersey, speaks about his experience in both Iran and the United States and the current situation. As someone who lived among migrant Muslims and followed their journey to the West Yaghmaian provides a non-mainstream analysis of the migration issue in the 'era of globalisation'. >> Listen to the interview. Read article: At the Gates of Paradise

Lebanon - 'The Deficits of the International Law'

Middle East Panorama show on Resonance FM 104.4
Every Friday 14:00 - 15:00 London Time (GMT)

Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh from The New Yorker magazine points out that the current situation in Lebanon is much like that during the conflict in Afghanistan in the 1980's – which gave rise to al Qaeda – with the same people involved in both the US and Saudi Arabia and the "same pattern" of the US using jihadists that the Saudis assure us they can control. An interview conducted by Hala Gorani on CNN. >> Listen to the interview

'The Deficits of International Law'. A talk given by Norman Geras from Manchester University at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, during Solidarity and Rights conference organized by The Euston Manifesto Group (in association with SOAS Centre for Jewish Studies). Professor Norman Geras is author of 'Marx and Human Nature', 'The Legacy of Rosa Luxembourg', 'The Contract of Mutual Indifference: Political Philosophy after the Holocaust', and other works. >> Listen to the talk

American Torture: From the Cold War to Abu Ghraib - Wars Do Not Just Happen

Middle East Panorama show on Resonance FM 104.4
Every Friday 14:00 - 15:00 London Time (GMT)

Michael Otterman, an award-winning freelance journalist and documentary filmmaker, reveals in American Torture: From the Cold War to Abu Ghraib (Pluto Press, March 2007) how torture became standard practice in today's 'War on Terror'; an 'alternative set of procedures' and vital tools needed 'to protect the American people and our allies'. (George W. Bush) >> Listen here.

The Israeli historian Dr. Moti Golani from Haifa University will be speaking on 'Wars Do Not Just Happen'. The Most prominent and controversial argument that Golani presents seems to be that "peace has not always headed Israel's list of priorities and war has not always headed its neighbours' list of priorities." >> Listen here.

Turkey - Labour News

Middle East Panorama show on Resonance FM 104.4
Every Friday 14:00 - 15:00 London Time (GMT)

The Economist magazine: "Turkey's problems are postponed, not solved." “We want neither Sharia [Islamic law] nor another coup, but a democratic Turkey,” say the Kemalists. The Turkish military has carried out no fewer than three coups in recent history-in 1960, 1971 and 1980. "Turkey is NATO's longstanding bulwark in the Middle East," argues Cihan Tugal. However, in 2003 the Turkish parliament refused the US use of Turkish bases for its war against Iraq. On this year's May Day between 600 and 900 people were detained during a rally in Istanbul. >> Interview with Cihan Tugal.

Labour News: "The longest and strongest wave of worker protest since the end of World War II is rolling through Egypt." May Day rallies in Turkey and Pakistan.

Drugs in Afghanistan - 'Since You Left'

Middle East Panorama show on Resonance FM 104.4
Every Friday 14:00 - 15:00 London Time (GMT)

"Afghanistan is the world's largest producer of opium and heroin, but its own people are becoming the victims. ..." David Macdonald tells a story about the diversity of drug use in Afghanistan that no one has ever told before. Author David Macdonald has worked as a drugs advisor to the UN. Drugs in Afghanistan - Opium, Outlaws and Scorpion Tales (Pluto Press 2007) breaks down the myths surrounding the cultivation and consumption of drugs, providing a detailed analysis of the history of drug use within the country. He examines the impact of over 25 years of continuous conflict, and shows how poverty and instability has led to an increase in drugs consumption. >> Listen to the interview

Since You Left is an autobiographical essay of a Palestinian-Israeli actor Bakri who returns to the grave of his former mentor, the writer and communist Emile Habibi, and attempts – using archive footage, personal films, and documentary materials – to account for the personal and political transformations that have occurred in Israel/Palestine as well as within his own thinking since the author’s death. Q&A with the director of the film Mohammed Bakri.

Photo of 2007

Photo of the Year by World Press Photo,
Spencer Platt, Getty Images, Beirut, Lebanon: Affluent Lebanese drive down the street to look at a destroyed neighborhood August 15, 2006 in southern Beirut, Lebanon. As the United Nations brokered cease fire between Israel and Hezbollah enters its first day, thousands of Lebanese returned to their homes and villages.
>> Read article.

'The Myrtle Tree' - 'Birds of War' - 'Iran Hostage Crisis in Context'

Middle East Panorama show on Resonance FM 104.4
Every Friday 14:00 - 15:00 London Time (GMT)

The Myrtle Tree
by Jad el Hage (Banipal Books, 2007). A Novel of love and Dreams in War-Torn Lebanon. Jad El Hage comments: "The most recent of our wars began in the 1970s and ended by stages in the early 1990s, depending on how one defines 'beginning' and 'end'. This uncertainty characterised the entire conflict. The only certainty is that we killed each other for more than fifteen years." The novel, says Patrick Seale, "conveys with razor-sharp accuracy the sights, sounds, tastes and tragic dilemmas of Lebanon's fratricidal civil war. A must read .' Hear the author.

Birds of War: Hawks, Doves and Illegal Eagles is an exhibition of contemporary, visual artwork to mark the fourth anniversary of the Iraq invasion. 11-17 April 2007 at Candid Arts Trust Gallery, London. >> Listen to Tanya Tier >> Listen to Alaa Siraih

In The Iran Hostage Crisis in Context David Wearing argues that "a broad cross-section of the Western news media...have reliably undertaken their standard task of caricaturing and infantilising the official enemy. Much effort has been spent ascribing to Iran the fanaticism, aggression and various other pathologies that constitute the designated framework within which we are told its actions must be understood."

The Colonial Drama of Israel & Palestine - Sounds

Middle East Panorama show on Resonance FM 104.4
Every Friday 14:00 - 15:00 London Time (GMT)

"We come again to the drama in which we Israelis must play our part opposite Palestinians, Iranians, Lebanese and many others. Who are we performing for, and why are they enjoying it? Why do the Western mind and the Western left dedicate so much time and energy to watching this play, analyzing it and attempting to influence it?" Interview with Matan Kaminer, an Israeli activist who spent some two years in prison for refusing to enlist in the Israeli army. >> Read article

Sounds from Tehran (Iran), Izmir (Turkey), Beirut (Lebanon), Douar Tamgrete & Mirleft village (Morocco), Sanandaj City (Iranian Kurdistan).

"Real Men Go to Tehran" - the Iraqi Communist Party

Middle East Panorama show on Resonance FM 104.4
Every Friday 14:00 - 15:00 London Time (GMT)

"Anyone can go to Baghdad; real men go to Tehran", an administration official was heard saying shortly after the fall of Baghdad. Muhammad Idrees Ahmed, member of Spinwatch and whose regular commentaries appear at joins Middle East Panorama to speak about 'The Israel Connection', 'The Oil Factor', 'The New Politics of Oil' and 'The Next War'. >> Listen to the interview >> Read article

The Iraqi Communist Party has been accused of being a 'Stalinist' party and recently as 'a collaborator with the occupiers'' after the American-led invasion of Iraq. In its 73rd year since its foundation the general secretary of the party's organisation in Britain, Radhwan Alwakeel, and Imed Selmans defend the ICP 'glorious history' and 'its practical position' towards the situation in Iraq today. Interviews, icluding an interview with Rashid Elsheik from the Communist Party of Sudan.

Oil Wars? - Wave of Strikes in Egypt

Middle East Panorama show on Resonance FM 104.4
Every Friday 14:00 - 15:00 London Time (GMT)

Oil Wars: Does competition for oil drive conflict? What part does oil play in war? "Western intervention in countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan is primarily motivated by the West's desire to control precious oil resources." Is this also true of other conflicts around the world? Interview with Yahia Said, co-editor of Oil Wars (Pluto Books, 2007) and Research Fellow at the London School of Economics, London.

Popular Social Movements and the Future of Egyptian Politics. "Since 1952", writes Joel Beinin, Director of Middle East Studies and professor of history at the American University in Cairo, “no Egyptian head of state has been targeted directly in this manner. A taboo has been broken, and there is no telling where these popular movements may lead.” From Cairo Joel Beinin joins Middle East Panorama to speak about the recent wave of strikes in Egypt. >> Listen to the interview >> Read article

Workers Advice Centre - Mecca Charity Show

Middle East Panorama show on Resonance FM 104.4
Every Friday 14:00 - 15:00 London Time (GMT)

The Workers Advice Center (or Ma'an in Arabic) in Israel provides an address for unorganised and neglected Arab workers in Israel. WAC is also committed to the struggle of Palestinian workers from the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, for jobs and social rights. It cooperates with Palestinian Trade Unions in fighting the Separation Wall and Israel's policy of closure. They have a unique perspective on the struggles facing workers in the region. A delegation from WAC has met Britain's biggest tarde union, UNISON, and two representatives from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (Britain). Here we listen to Adiv Assaf, national coordinator of WAC. >> Listen to the lead off.

"ONLY Saudi diplomacy has succeeded in bearing the historical responsibility for all parties, gathering the warring brothers in Holy Mecca and extinguishing a fire that could have burnt everyone." 'Thus, on February 14, 2007, Turqi al-Hamad praised the Saudis for brokering an agreement between Hamas and Fatah, pulling them back from the brink of civil war.' The agreement, argues Roni Ben Efrat 'is extremely misleading'.

Aida Nadeem - 'Iran on the Brink'

Middle East Panorama show on Resonance FM 104.4
Every Friday 14:00 - 15:00 London Time (GMT)

Aida Nadeem (
BBC World Music nominee) for an exculsive gig at the Spitz to showcase material for her forthcoming album on Sam Records, a follow up to the critically acclaimed 2005 release Out of Baghdad. Having fled her home country of Iraq due to her politics, she has sort refuge in Denmark where she has developed a unique style of dance/world music crossover. Dubbed 'ethnic synthetic', it combines aspects of ambient, trip hop and Arabesque blended together with traditional Iraqi poetry and topped off with her own unique vocal style. >> Interview with Aida.

"Iran on the brink - Rising Workers and Threats of War" by Andreas Malm and Shora Esmailian (Pluto Press 2007). Questions and comments on the book and the situation in Iran. From a book launch that took place at the Housemans' Bookshop, London 06 March 2007. Listen here >> Part 1 >> Part 2

Lara Deeb on Hizballh - Iran: 'Rising Workers and Threats of War'

Middle East Panorama show on Resonance FM 104.4
Every Friday 14:00 - 15:00 London Time (GMT)

"Hizballah, the Lebanese Shi‘i movement has been cast misleadingly in much media coverage" during the last war last summer. Lara Deeb, a cultural anthropologist, assistant professor of women’s studies at the University of California-Irvine and author of An Enchanted Modern: Gender and Public Piety in Shi‘i Lebanon, joins the show to give a deeper analysis of Hizballah. Listen to the interview: >> Part 1 >> Part 2

While the world keeps its eyes riveted on Iran's nuclear programme, the Islamic Republic has gone through a crisis of its own; soaring unemployment and poverty has given way to social protest. A new labour movement has come to the fore. Although strikes are banned, workers are beginning to organise and underground networks are challenging the rule of the mullahs from within. Andreas Malm and Shora Esmailian, the first is a reporter for Arbetaren, a major newspaper in Sweden, the second is an Iranian journalist and activist living in Sweden, launch a new book, "Iran on the brink - Rising Workers and Threats of War" (Pluto Press 2007). >> Listen to the authors

El Tanbura - 'Israel's demographic demons'

Middle East Panorama show on Resonance FM 104.4
Every Friday 14:00 - 15:00 London Time (GMT)

Interview with Zakaria Ibrahim the founder and director of El Tanbura, a collective of master musicians, village singers, local fishermen and Sufi philosophers from Port Said, Egypt. >> Listen to the interview here

'Israel's demographic demons and their effects on its Palestine citizens' talk by Manal Hazzan, department of laws at University College London.

The CIA in the Middle East

Middle East Panorama show on Resonance FM 104.4
Every Friday 14:00 - 15:00 London Time (GMT)

Free lance journalist and author Stephen Grey on 'Our friends, the torturers: the secret story of the CIA's alliance with intelligence agencies of the Middle East and how they became America's jailer and interrogator'

Iran - Salamah Kaileh

Middle East Panorama show on Resonance FM 104.4
Every Friday 14:00 - 15:00 London Time (GMT)

"As opposition grows in America to the failed Iraq adventure, the Bush administration is preparing public opinion for an attack on Iran, its latest target, by the spring [of 2007]." (John Pilger)
Interview with Yassamine Mather, a member of the editorial board of Critique, a Journal of Socialist Theory, published by Centre for the Study of Socialist Theory and Movements at Glasgow University. Yassamine Mather works in the Departments of Aerospace Engieerning and Mechanical Engineering at Glasgow University. She has written articles on the Iranian revolution and Islamic fundamentalism. >> Listen here

Interview with Salamah Kaileh spent 8 years in the Syrian prisons. Born in the town of Birzeit in Palestine, studied in Baghdad and became an activist within the Palestinian resistance. He wrote a number of books among them: "The Arab and The National Question" (1989), "Critique of Mainstream Marxism" (1980), "Imperialism and the Plunder of the World" (1992), "The problems of Marxism in the Arab World" (2003) and recently "The Problem of the Arab Nationalist Movement" (2005) >> Listen to the interview: In English: Part 1 > Part 2 >> In Arabic: Part 1 > Part 2

Eye Witness Lebanon - AIWA

Middle East Panorama show on Resonance FM 104.4
Every Friday 14:00 - 15:00 London Time (GMT)

Conversation with Caoimhe Butterly, solidarity and anti-war activist who has lived with communities of resistance in Iraq, Labanon, Palestine (where she survived a bullet in the West Bank) and Mexico. Here she talks about her experience and struggles during the recent war in Lebanon and reports on the current humanitarian situation in the south. Listen here: >> Part 1 >> Part 2

Introducing AIWA, a collective founded in 1998 by Wamid and Naufalle, two Iraqi brothers brought up in France. They began mixing their musical practice (bass for Wamid and percussions and Arabic rap for his brother) to their growing interest for electronical music they were producing. Here we lsiten to some tracks from their album AIWA.

Love Your Work And Be Happy

Just as the Protestant work ethic can be construed as an ideology propagated by the bourgeoisie and inculcated into the working classes, th...