Tag Archives | israel

How Do Boycott Campaigns Work in Lebanon?

I remember at least two artists who were subject to online and offline boycott campaigns in Lebanon over the past few years due to their alleged support to Israel, Gad Elmaleh in 2009 and Lara Fabian in 2012. Gad Elmaleh was accused of serving in the Israeli Defense Forces (which wasn’t true) while Lara Fabian faced so much criticism for performing at an event to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Israel, and civil society groups of course tried to keep the two artists from performing in Lebanon.

Fast forward to the present, Wonder Woman starring Gal Gadot is scheduled to start showing across Lebanese theaters on June 1st. However, Gal Gadot is an Israeli actress and model who first appeared as Wonder Woman in Batman VS Superman last year and her upcoming movie posters have been surprisingly all around the country for a while now! That’s not just any actress supporting Israel, that’s an Israeli actress who served as a combat trainer in the Israeli Defense Forces with her posters all around Lebanon.

I’m not writing this to call for the movie boycott. I personally love superhero movies and will definitely be watching Wonder woman. However, I’ve yet to hear about any call against screening it and in this case one can’t but wonder how do civil society activists choose which artists/projects to boycott or let pass. At one point you start doubting their campaigns could be sometimes fueled by business competition… International artists are all exposed to have a connection with Israel at some point during their career, which makes it easy for anyone to criticize them for the sole purpose of provoking those who are investing their money into getting such artists to perform in Lebanon.

Anyway, the movie is showing in two days so let’s see if any cyber activists will try to take a stance against it!


I just learned the Ministry of Economy and Trade demanded the General Security to withdraw the movie from Lebanese theaters. However, the questions I raised above still stand.


Volatile Cedar – A Cyber Espionage Operation by Lebanese Hackers


Check Point Software Technologies, an Israeli IT Security firm, reported a couple of days ago the unveiling of a cyber espionage campaign that hit more than 10 countries including Lebanon, Israel, USA, Canada, UK, Japan, Peru, and Turkey, and traced back to Lebanese hackers with possible ties to some active political group (hinting at Hezbollah).

The operation was called “Volatile Cedar”, and experts claimed it has been ongoing since 2012 with targets being carefully chosen and ranging from defense contractors to telecom and media companies. Attackers infiltrated these organizations by mainly compromising their web servers and planting malware on them, and then waiting for server administrators to simply plug in some USB devices which led to infecting other servers and workstations. Check Point however did not provide additional information about neither the affected organization nor the nature of data that has been stolen.

I personally found the news quite surprising because such big espionage operations are usually sponsored by governments, and we all know we don’t have a cyber bureau in charge of similar things here. So one cannot but admire Hezbollah for their capabilities if it was really them behind it, and at the same time feel worried about some big firms being infiltrated like banks and our two mobile operators!

If you’re interested in learning more about the Volatile Cedar operation, you can download this document by Check Point with a lot of interesting technical information about the used malware.


Israel is Searching for a Porn Star to Topple Mia Khalifa

mia khalifa

How one earth can anyone believe something such as this post’s title?!

The Israeli Daily, a satire news site, published this article on how the Israeli Minister of Economy is now concerned about Mia Khalifa being ranked number one on Porn Hub and wants to find an Israeli star to outshine Mia.

Speaking to The Israeli Daily a spokesman for Bennett’s office stated, “having seen this travesty the minister is well aware of the economic damage that could be caused by people thinking that the hottest chicks come from Lebanon. Everybody knows the sweetest bodies in the Levant are to be found in Israel and that Tel Aviv is party central here in the region,” he continued.

In order to reinforce this message the minister is launching a search for an Israeli star to rival Khalifa. “We are looking for a young professional who can outdo this poor Lebanese imitation,” the spokesman stated. “Ideally they will be in the IDF because chicks with guns are always hot. They should also be extremely flexible and have an all over tan,” he added. Source

Unsurprisingly, several Lebanese news sites took the whole thing seriously and started copying the article!

Talk about professional journalism!


A beginner’s guide to Lebanon’s oil and gas


Check out this nice informative page created by Executive magazine for everything you need to know about Lebanon’s oil and gas.

The page has information about how much oil does Lebanon have, how did we end up falling behind out neighbors in exploring our fields, who’s holding the negotiations from our side with the oil and gas giants in the world, where will the money go, and what is the dispute with Israel about.


Will Julian Khazzouh play in the Lebanese basketball league?

There are some things in this country that are meant to never be understood. Things like whether sports players who have earlier played in the Israeli leagues are allowed to play in Lebanon or not.

The basketball player you see in the photo above is Julian Khazzouh, a Lebanese who was born in Australia where he played for the Sydney Kings in addition to some other Europan teams and Israel’s Ironi Ramat Gan. He also recently joined the Sagesse squad and is supposed to start playing for them starting the upcoming season.

Now you all know it was made clear last year that foreign players who previously received a work permit in Israel are not allowed to play for the Lebanese sports club.

However, Julian Khazzouh used his Australian passport to play for the Israel team, but started using the Lebanese ID he already has when he came here, and practically the law doesn’t apply to him anymore since it just mentions foreign players!

Moreover, it’s very clear for the Lebanese that traveling to Israel or dealing with Israelis is against the law, yet the Lebanese Basketball Federation is still to this moment going in discussions to decide whether Khazzouh will be given a permit to play or not! How on earth is this a hard case to solve?!

What’s even more shameful than Sagesse signing this guy is reading people like Elie Mechantaf defending him!

“We solved the issue with the Lebanese judiciary, as he [Khazzouh] played in Israel with his Australian passport,” Sagesse’s former captain and current president Elie Mchantaf said.

“[Khazzouh] has now regained Lebanese nationality and the law does not prevent him from playing here.

“We are working lawfully regarding this issue, and I assure everyone that he will be present in Sagesse’s first game of the season,” he added. Source


Lebanon ranks 69th in the Happy Planet Index

The New Economic Foundation issued the Happy Planet Index for 2012 showing how well are nations doing to keep their inhabitants living a good life, while ensuring to maintain the conditions for future generations to do the same.

The index was calculated following this formula:
Happy Planet Index = (Experienced well-being x life expectancy) / Ecological footprint

The Ecological footprint is by the way measures how quick humans consume nature capital compared to how much time earth takes to renew them.

Anyway, the report shows Lebanon in the 69th position with a life expectancy of 72.6 years, which is quite surprising knowing how much we nag here!

Globally, Costa Rica came first while Botswana was ranked last (151st). On the other hand, Algeria came first among the Arab countries in the 26th place, and Israel was ranked 15th.

You can download the full report here.


Claire Danes in Beirut

So as I mentioned in a previous post, the events in the first episodes of “Homeland” take place in Beirut, but its producers decided to shoot these scenes in Tel Aviv and make it look like Beirut as shown in the above photo. Still, the result didn’t seem pretty convincing to Karl from Karl reMarks blog, and so he offered the below alternatives!


Beirut featured in Homeland TV series

Fatima Ali, the first wife of a Hezbollah district commander, has information about an attack on the United States. Fatima refuses to speak to anyone but Carrie, who knows another secret from having recruited her eight years ago: She loves Julia Roberts movies. (What did she think of her in “Charlie Wilson’s War”?) This leads CIA counterterrorism director David Estes (David Harewood) and avuncular CIA vet Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) to pull Carrie back into the business for a three-day, one-off mission to Beirut, Lebanon. (The Beirut scenes, however, were filmed in Israel.) Source

Funnily enough, the scenes in Beirut were all filmed in Tel Aviv.


A new malware targets Lebanese Bank customers!

Kaspersky Labs recently discovered a new malware called “Gauss” with a module that aims to capture Lebanese bank accounts login credentials. And the targeted banks included Bank of Beirut, EBLF, Blom Bank, Byblos Bank, Fransabank, and Credit Libanais.

The article suggests the malware has been created by the US and Israeli governments and was not intended to steal money from client accounts, but rather to trace the source of funding to certain individuals (Hezbollah members I suppose).

The spyware, dubbed Gauss after a name found in one of its main files, also has a module that targets bank accounts in order to capture login credentials. The malware targets accounts at several banks in Lebanon, including the Bank of Beirut, EBLF, BlomBank, ByblosBank, FransaBank and Credit Libanais. It also targets customers of Citibank and PayPal.

The researchers don’t know if the attackers used the bank component in Gauss simply to spy on account transactions, or to steal money from targets. But given that the malware was almost certainly created by nation-state actors, its goal is likely not to steal for economic gain, but rather for counterintelligence purposes. Its aim, for instance, might be to monitor and trace the source of funding going to individuals or groups, or to sabotage political or other efforts by draining money from their accounts.

Still, that doesn’t seem like the only purpose for that malware, since the people at Kaspersky are still working to crack the larger part of its code and identify what is it responsible for.

Make sure to read the very interesting and worrying report from Wired.com here.

I know protecting your network from a nation-state-created malware is quite hard, but I hope Lebanese banks are now taking the necessary measures to protect themselves from such attacks and eventually safeguard our information.

 Thank you Ibrahim Lahoud


AUB students demonstrate against Donna Shalala during commencement

Several dozen people disrupted the Master’s graduation ceremony at AUB Friday evening to protest against the awarding of an honorary degree to Donna Shalala due to her support for engagement with Israel.

Shalala, president of the University of Miami in Florida and a former U.S. secretary of health, has three honorary degrees from universities in Israel, and does not support a cultural boycott of the country.

Around 40 protesters heckled Shalala as she began her speech of thanks, shouting “boycott Israel.” Some held a large banner that read “Boycott Zionist Shalala.” Source


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