Trump is fulfilling a prophecy. Evangelicalism, or Christian Zionism, is a major religious party of the Protestant church that emerged in the 18th century in Europe and the United States. In short, it is a "movement" which holds a strict belief in the existence of the "pure Christian state," on the basis of the superiority of the Biblical text and the Christian doctrine. In addition, Evangelists believe in the second coming of Jesus Christ and paves the way for his return. Christian Zionism, as its name suggests, is one of the biggest supporters of the state of Israel in the United States. Why? Because the existence of a Jewish state is a prophecy that foreshadows the return of Jesus. People tend to think of Evangelicalism as simply a religious group with stricter notions about Christianity and faith. However, this particular group has an agenda, which is tightly entrenched in U.S. politics. President Donald Trump is an Evangelical and is unsurprisingly surrounded by Evangelicals in the White House, whose sole purpose is ensuring the continuation and fulfillment of the Evangelical prophecy. If we look at Donald Trump's 2016 campaign, it leaves no doubt that Trump is a loyal evangelical, who has continuously emphasized his Christian beliefs, his capitalistic lifestyle, and, deceivingly, democracy—and perhaps even the dreariest of all—the superiority of white. The biggest terrorist in the world today isn't ISIS. It isn't the Taliban, it isn't al-Qaeda. The biggest terrorist in the world today (and even since the bygone 3 centuries) is the United States of America without a shadow of a doubt. And if we were to count the numbers of casualties, fatalities, usurped lands, stolen resources, destroyed hopes and dreams, we won't be able to contain these even in the longest war bill. The U.S. is the number-one instigator of wars in the Middle East and has been toying around with South American developing countries since its foundation. It fought against Mexico in 1846 and looked to buy Cuba from Spain as a "slave state" in 1854, in what was known as the Ostend Manifesto. This, in addition to the conflicts and wars that were tied in between the two Americas, led to the Civil War. The world faced WWI and shortly afterward WWII, a timeframe in which the United States took it upon itself to rise as a hegemon in the political and military arena, with a direct sphere of influence on developing countries. Therefore, the USA was at liberty to "save" the doomed states of the world - like Iraq - and introduce them to the peace of democracy at the outset of the 21st century. Democracy, mind you, is still not a thing in the United States itself. While promoting democracy to "undemocratic" states around the world, America still has a strong presence of racial discrimination against African Americans and other minorities and suffers from several social issues - which have ignited the flame of protests after the death of Geroge Floyd. Trump's Political Journey Donald Trump started his political journey in 1987. Before that, he was a famous businessman who inherited his father's empire, and - unsurprisingly - a TV laughingstock. He registered as a Republican in 1987, and transferred twice - once to the Reform Party and once to the Democratic Party - but eventually settled back to the Republicans. Trump tried to run for president in 2000 as a representative of the Reform Party, but his attempt was futile and his chances were slim, so he withdrew from the race. He simply did not have a chance against George Bush. In 2004, he mused the idea of running again but did not take the step forward. In 2008, however, he endorsed John McCain - the losing candidate against Barack Obama. In 2011, when Obama had completed three years at the White House, Trump was invited to the WHCA annual dinner at the White House, which hosts all White House correspondents. At the dinner, Obama made fun of Trump, who was a host of The Celebrity Apprentice for a full five minutes, with a grim set on Trump's face. Five years passed. Trump won the presidential elections after 8 years of Barack Obama. Some people argue that the dinner night was the turning point in Trump's life - it was at that moment that he had decided to run for president. And despite the fact that Trump has refuted the allegation, it is clear - what with his lack of political nimbleness and social intelligence - that he did not run to "make America great." The New York Times reports that Trump ran for president to avenge himself and his laughable character - to reclaim his reputation and presence. He was, after all, a TV fool and a comical character who was never taken seriously. In the past two decades, the image of "political Islam" was desecrated, what with the rise of Islamic politicization in several Arab states, prominently in Egypt. The idea of "state and church" (or "state and mosque") was defined as a cancerous concept. Seculars criticized the Islamic agenda for a functional state, alleging that Arabs and Muslims must follow suit and secularize politics. But to denounce the interrelation of church and state in the United States is very unsubstantiated. Evangelicals believe in the literal meanings of the Bible, and believe that Christ will save humanity in his second coming, in which he will destroy the disbelievers and rule the earth. Despite the small discrepancies and the doctrinal variety, evangelicals make up 6-40% of all American Christians. 81% of them, per USA elections statistics in 2016, voted for Trump (source: Wikipedia). If we do a simple math equation, we find that 35% of American Christians (85,000,000) are evangelicals, who believe in the idea of "Christian America" - a completely religious state, where the Bible is considered an agenda, a strategy book, and a roadmap. Some people think that Zionism is pertinent to Jewish people only, because it describes the attainment of "home" for Jews. However, 80% of evangelicals believe in the idea of the "gathering of Israel," and believe that it is a condition for the Christ to return. Christian Zionism is also one of the biggest supporters of Israel in the United States. Trump may not have external Christian looks. He may not wear a cross or have his picture taken reciting the Bible or walking to church. But he rules with the Bible, and uses it as a visionary roadmap that progresses the prophecies, one after the other, announcing and preparing the return of Christ. Say otherwise, but his foreign policy is proof of that. The surprising thing is that secular activists have rallied against Erdogan and Muhammad Morsi because they tried to "Islamicize" politics or "politicize" Islam. They call him a terroristic, fanatical Caliph who suppresses rights and supports terrorism. But never did we hear a thing about American policy and the influence Christian Zionism has on the foreign policy in the White House. In short, white, conservative Americans, who are often described as backward, stupid, and hardheaded, are free to promote a religious state that is based on racial discrimination and white supremacy. Muslims, on the other hand, cannot. Translated from Arabic. Read the original text here. Inspired from a video by Vox on the same subject.
The Middle East Needs Liberation from the Inside
Foreign interventions and internal conflicts have created a hellhole. Time to fix it. An indispensable rule when looking at the status quo of a state, especially in the Middle East, is the rule of gradual appropriation of certain concepts, beliefs, and social norms by the government. When I say government, I surely also mean the media, the various institutions, and the judiciary branch, which are either directly or indirectly influenced by the government. Gradual appropriation is often forced upon the nation piece by piece — a law amendment here, an executive order there, a military announcement every a couple of weeks. Until there’s no return to previous states, and whether people like these bite-size transformations does not change the fact that they’re here to stay. For dictators, government decisions are not up for discussion among citizens or the media. But gradual appropriation isn’t why the Middle East is living its most deplorable situation for decades. Not just economically; think on a more unscalable level. Everything about society — whether as a small nation or an Arab sphere in the Middle East — has been either neglected, suppressed, or killed. One of the main reasons, unsurprisingly, are dictatorships. Puppet regimes inserted in states, and éminence grise subjects pulling the strings for Western powers. The Middle East isn’t the same anymore. Ever since the Sykes-Picot Agreement and the ensuing changes in geopolitical alignments, the unending Arab-Israeli conflict, and the Arab Spring outbursts in recent years, the Middle East has become a hellhole. An unbearable, uncontrolled playground for dictators to dictate and for foreign powers to bully. Arab nations in the Middle East who have pledged and envisioned a better future for their countries and taken it upon themselves to prompt change have been suppressed by the despotic rule. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood initiative was undermined and resisted, eventually leading to Mohammad Morsi being overthrown by the army years ago. Now, an insolent dictatorship is not only worsening the economic downturn but also reestablishing non-revolution initiatives with both secular and religious facades.
In Tunisia, while the revolution has had a pretty positive outcome in the grand scheme of things, the political realm in the country still faces schisms and imbalance.
In Libya, a wartorn country that has not seen the light of day for decades now, foreign powers see it as an opportunity to abuse and demonstrate firepower.
In Syria, war is still ongoing, with over half a million casualties. There does not seem to be an end, especially with foreign powers using the land space to test firepower.
In Yemen, US-backed UAE and KSA forces have rendered the country uninhabitable, with Hothi militias taking control and establishing a rule of their own.
In Palestine, the Arab-Israeli conflict has no apparent ending that is both hopeful and reassuring. With continuous transgressions on every end by the Israeli forces and an unrelenting resistance by Palestinian groups — as well as an incompetent, idiocratic, and puppet ruler as the president of Palestine — the conflict can only continue to worsen.
In Iraq, I don’t even know where to begin. Turkey, on the other hand, is rising in power, both economic and military, with a huge emphasis on regional and geopolitical influence, which goes head-to-head against Greek ambitions and willpower to eradicate Turkey. The Middle East has been facing authoritarian regimes and all kinds of terrorism from militia groups either pretending to be ultranationalistic or following Islamic law for decades now. Since the infectious US interventionism reached the region, most prominently after 9/11, with allegations that Iraq possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction and that it needed liberation with forced democracy, it became evident that the Middle East was to face long-term problems. But then again, as with every nation over the long course of history, true liberation does not come from the outside. It is unfeasible to expect or wait for foreign interference to resolve national conflicts. The political scene in the Middle East has been secularized in a major way, especially after the resurfacing of “Islamic extremism,” which, by the way, has nothing to do with the major belief of Muslims or the Islamic jurisprudence (known to you as sharia law). With this secularization, political parties tend often to look up to likeminded parties in the West. This raises a few problems, which pertain to the idiosyncrasies of the Middle East and the Arabian peninsula. With the dismantlement of the Ottoman Empire, the Middle East was struck with a wave of Western influence, mainly British and French. This influence was primarily focused on turning Arab provinces and tribes against the Ottoman rule, thus forming a united Arab front to face off the Turkish regime and establish an Arab state. The Ottoman Empire in its last years was a deformed extension of the Islamic Ottoman state that ruled for centuries, which was eventually secularized by ultranationalists in Turkey — a group named The Young Turks — and kicked out of Arab provinces to be constrained to what is now known as modern Turkey. What did this entail? Arab provinces — led mainly by Sharif Hussein of Mecca — were left high and dry by Britain, which was the one to instigate the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire. Britain backstabbed the Sharif and negotiated a colonialistic agenda with France, known as the Sykes-Picot Agreement in 1916. Arabs were left to fight off British interventionism and political schisms amongst themselves, which further worsened the already dire situation, which hasn’t seen any change to this day. Where’s the problem? In all cases where a change of any kind — social, political, or economic — is needed, it is important to first identify the problem. Analysts and commentators may attribute the ruinous and woeful state of the region to social idiosyncrasies; the complexities and interrelations of social norms and religious beliefs, which are stringent and ever so variant in a climate like the Middle East. But the true problem is far more complex. The Middle East doesn’t just face social problems — that is, issues regarding the belief system, the traditions, and the expansive schisms in lifestyle. Rich countries rule the states in the Middle East. When anyone says “rich countries,” they mostly refer to the gulf states. Most prominently, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which stand on the extreme secular side of geopolitics, and have been ever so fearful of the contagious phenomena of the Arab Spring, which tried to overthrew dictatorships and liberate nations. In the Middle East, the two most important players are these two. Saudi Arabia has been known, especially recently, to have anti-Islamic viewpoints. Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, which is also King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz’s son, has revolutionized the kingdom with modern, Western endorsement, putting hundreds of Muslim scholars behind bars for no reason other than that of slight opposition or ultrareligious views. Scores of academics, economists, writers and human rights activists have been arrested in recent years in an apparent bid to stamp out dissent and opposition to Prince Mohammed, who has consolidated power with a purported anti-corruption crackdown. (Al-Jazeera) Saudi Arabia and the UAE are known to have prevented national and social revolutions in neighboring countries, fearful of the emergence of an Islamic-oriented coalition with their archrival, Qatar, and the Turkish regime. It is a known fact that Egypt’s Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi operates as a proxy dictator for the interests of the Gulf States. He is dependent on Saudi and Emirati monetary funds to maintain a seemingly lively economy, which has been in acute decline ever since he became president. Both the UAE and Saudi Arabia are known to back dictatorship regimes in the Middle East and stand against the oppressed nations. These can be exemplified in their US-backed military coalition in Yemen, as well as in Egypt, Palestine, and North Africa. Looking for similarities instead of differences. Political parties that work on utilizing agendas and ratifying theories in their national states tend to overlook the importance of unity between dissimilar minds and viewpoints. With a unified agenda against dictatorship and oppression and a united front against authoritarianism, nationalist parties can work more effectively if other unimportant elements and differences were put aside. It is always possible to discuss and agree upon the parity of esteem after the communal goal has been achieved, but as long as dictatorship remains, the status quo can only worsen. Western influence is still lingering. US Interventionism still plays an important role in funding terrorism in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia is, in fact, a terrorist regime, and the US weapon deals with Saudi Arabia only help the USA with money, and Saudi Arabia with spheres of influence. Regardless of whose name the Oval Office holds on the plaque on the desk, the US government will hardly change its foreign policy agenda regarding the Middle East. And that prolongs dictatorships and prevents true liberation. Political freedom is nonexistent. In states that pretend to be democratic and in states that are fine with being authoritarian, political freedom is nowhere to be seen. The problem with the mindset in the Middle East is that it is realist in nature. Political parties who rise to power believe that it should be a lifetime contract, and so work on eradicating any opposing party or individual. They also highly depend on media censorship, unlawful arrests, or silent assassinations. Is Iran really the biggest threat? It’s been a long time since Iran’s firepower and nuclear capability have been exaggerated to Middle Eastern states, especially Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Iran is one of the most — if not the most — prominent terrorist regimes in the Middle East. The United States has long warned of Iranian terrorist outbursts and thus outpoured money to fund initiatives in the region to fight it off, mainly with Israel being the obvious target. After the Emirati accord with Israel and the normalization of Arab-Israeli relations, it is no surprise that the Saudi regime follows suit, hiding behind the threat of Iran. But is Iran the only threat in the Middle East? Thanks for reading this analysis. This was originally published on Medium.
How to Move from Ideation to Creation
Not translating ideas into action is the reason why we're stuck as a society. We all see the problems around us. Murder, deceit, and an appalling downturn in morality and basic human decency. We don't lack any theoretical input, nor do we lack creative minds to come up with creative solutions to national problems such as the rise in crime and homicide. What we lack, sadly, is the actual utilization and implementation of these ideas, and the ability—or the drive—to translate these ideas into action. Real, tangible action whose results we can see day in and day out. So how can we move from ideation to creation? Societies don't like change. Once a (new) norm sets in, year after year, society gets used to it. Embraces it, making it part of a legacy. Purporting new change can become a hassle—of course when said change is improving society. Take any problem with society. Homicide? Rape? Sexual harassment? The stupid governments ruling the intellects? Homelessness? Immigration? Political hegemony in the West controlling developing countries with puppet regimes? Wars? Netflix normalizing pedophilia? The general societal oblivion? I could go on and on. Take any problem you see that pertains to the societal norms—whether locally, regionally, or internationally—and propose a solution. In certain cases, it's a difficult mission to come up with ideas. But mostly, it's child's play. End homicide? Stop gun-trading, amend laws, increase policing. End sexual harassment? Stop the sexualization of women. Shun, outcast, and banish instigators. Amend laws. For every problem, there is a solution Yes, for the most part, that solution is theoretical at best. Why? Because you can't change the people around you. When you grow up in a society that not only doesn't prevent a certain appalling norm but even endorses it, there's little you can do about it. "Start slow," they'll tell you, "start with your family." But even that will take lightyears to accomplish. Not only that. When you're one fighter trying to rid society of a shitty norm against a hundred others trying to promote it, your chances drop to zero. Changing society is a war. Yes, that's what it essentially is. If you take on the mission of changing people around you—changing how they think, how they behave, what values they uphold, what the source of their morals is, and how they conduct themselves—you need to be prepared for the journey. Just like you don't go to battle without a weapon and a shield, you don't go to change society without a vision, a plan, and the drive. These are the only three things you need. A vision so that you know what the outcome will be. What you want society to look like in the process and after the change. A plan is your weapon. It is comprised of all the practical steps that you need to utilize in order to change society. They have to be very practical and on-point. Stating "change society" as your Step One isn't very practical. Instead, try "talk about [insert issue]." That's a good first step; now follow it with a hundred more. The drive is what ensures the continuity of your plan. It's as simple as not giving a f*ck about what people say, but also fighting back. You need to have perseverance and determination to be able to continue delivering your message and applying the change. These elements are vital in the process of changing society. A vision is an easy thing to come up with; it's merely ideas that we get overnight. A theoretical roadmap to reach new heights. We're good at coming up with ideas, but not so much as implementing those ideas. Here's why, in my opinion. 1) A flawed perception of societal norms What is a "societal norm"? Put simply, it constitutes the behaviors, actions, and worldview of people in a society. Something that is widely known to be done subconsciously, without any preliminary thinking. A good example is when you shake hands with someone who you just met. It's a tradition—a custom that everyone does, to the point that if you don't follow this behavior, you're considered weird or atypical. When society gets used—either some ages ago or recently—to a new norm, it allows it to infiltrate every household and disseminate its preceding tradition. Sometimes, this new norm is fantastic; a new norm that people like you have been encouraging and promoting. But most of the time (at least in the past few decades) it's a bad norm that sets in. So how can we distinguish the good from the bad? One might claim this question is inane and laughable. What do you mean to distinguish? Smoking in public is bad. Sexual harassment is bad. That's easy to tell. But what about education? Modernism in education? What about the public school system? What about children's addiction to technology? Robberies? Adultery? Abortion? Most of the time, a societal norm isn't simply right or wrong. Societal norms are based on subjective opinions, especially norms that are novel—that are rebellious and challenging. When we do this separation, we allow ourselves to conduct dialogue on what is and what is not perceived as a societal norm. This specifically pertains to social cases more than moral, religious, or identity-related cases. People have differing worldviews on religion, morality, and all forms of identity. People are polarized on education, on government systems, on war, on technology... For some people, this is a case of right and wrong, and that is fine (it is for me). However, topics like sexual harassment, sexual assault, homicide, pedophilia, etc. are cases of pure right and wrong. When you embark on the journey of changing society, you have to categorize topics and norms into what is and what isn't something you should change. You don't go around telling people not to drive cars, because that's primitive and stupid. You don't go around telling people not to use their phones at all. You have to be reasonable. Prioritize what social norms are even subject to change. What isn't even a social norm... What are your views on the topic at hand... According to whom is this "norm" harmful to society? This way, a social warrior has a clear vision of what should be changed. But people wanting to change society encompass lots of different topics that are different in their very essence. If you want to advocate against real problems in society, (homicide, sexual assault, etc.) you have to focus on these issues and know what they mean, who stands behind them, and consequently prove their fundamental flaws. Most of the time, a societal norm isn't simply right or wrong. Enthusiastic social warriors try to take on every new norm as if it's an invasion. New norms aren't always bad—in fact, most of the time, they're great. New norms that are intrusive, unconventional (in doctrine), and repulsive to a whole society are bad. Our approach to social norms should not be according to their seniority. There are many social norms that are disgusting and appalling, appropriated decades ago (for some reason). On the other hand, a lot of new norms are actually good—they benefit society and prompt prosperity. We should approach norms by what they provide. 2) Technical obstacles The thing about most of our social problems is that they pertain to the state. Think about it. Ending homelessness shouldn't be our problem per se. Sure, we have an obligation, but we aren't capable of finding real solutions to this problem. We, as individuals or as a society, cannot end homicide or robbery with real action. We cannot end hate crimes or racist incidents. Problems like these are within the jurisdiction of the state. The government. When you're a sole fighter trying to amass voices and amplify a trend against a certain topic that is not within our jurisdiction as civilians, it's hard to move from ideation to tangible implementation. These are technical problems that are both easy and difficult to overcome. On the one hand, the government is an entity whose very purpose of serving us, the people. If the government isn't preventing a harmful norm (racism, discrimination, homicide, rape), then what's it for then? There is a reason why governments do not last. A four-year term is a true test to its capabilities, to its agendas. When the norm is endorsed by the state against the will of the people, that's an easy fix—vote them out. However, technical obstacles are only a speck of the problem when the norm is deeply entrenched in the society itself (so much so that the people don't even want it changed), then there's work to do. While we can't do much (alone) to influence the government, what we can do instead is to educate, inform, and prepare society for a better future, so that we make the only obstacle between us and a better society is the government alone. 3) Misunderstood Implementation People often misunderstand and misuse the methods and strategies with which they are to implement these ideas to change society. While it's true that changing society is a war—a full-fledged war—ideas can be translated into action in numerous ways, not just one. Writing is one of them. Educating people around you is the most effective way you can make an impact. Tweeting about a topic can be considered implementation. Creating YouTube videos, writing books, talking on podcasts, or conducting interviews are all methods that can bring forth the desired change. Just by informing people on topics that matter, you prompt more ideas to surface, more voices to echo, and, consequently, enabling the translation of these ideas into action. Fighting to change society shouldn't be actively aggressive. Nor should it be destructive. Small steps are fine, so long as they are consistent and passionate. Change does not happen overnight, and for us to see real change in the social landscape, we have to work harder. But most importantly, more people should join the war.
To Catch a Dictator
To identify a dictatorship, take a look at Egypt. How easy is it to catch a dictator? It's probably impossible. But to identify one is child's play. All you have to do is look. If that's too cumbersome, you can also listen. That works too. Dictatorship is often ascribed to one person: the head of state, the king, the president. But if we look at the whole picture, at the institutions and the system as a whole, it becomes apparent that dictatorship is not a person. Hell, dictatorship is not even a government. Dictatorship is an idea. An idea that is not only put forward by the government or the “deep state” or the so-called independent institutions. Dictatorship is an idea in society itself. When society is built, generation after generation, on the basis of the superiority of a group or an individual, dictatorship sets in. When children are taught in school that some man is far more superior, that his needs are far more important, that his insights are truer, that's when dictatorship becomes an idea. But what happens when this dictatorship becomes part of the day-to-day? It takes over every form of life and freedom. It becomes the norm that cannot be changed. How to Identify a Dictator Let's take Egypt, which is probably the best example there is to give about dictatorship, democracy, and endless political conflict. Overthrown by al-Sisi, Egypt's first rightfully president-elect Muhammad Morsi was undermined, jailed, and oppressed. But most importantly, the idea that Morsi stood behind was tainted. With new leadership, Egypt has taken a serious approach toward the Muslim Brotherhood. All MB politicians, leaders, revolution icons, and supporters were imprisoned. The state-affiliated media issued full-fledged attacks on the group, with or without justification. They accused them of treason, of incompetence, of conspiring with foreign powers, of being funded and supported by Qatar. Some people agreed. It made sense that they would receive some kind of support from foreign powers. Would that make Egypt a puppet regime? To Qatar? It amazes me, almost every time that I hear it when Egyptian media accuses the anti-government people—whether national or foreign—of being affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. Abdulfattah al-Sisi's trial period had begun as soon as he had set foot into the office. The Egyptian people, who had been—and now sadly are—eager to get rid of the tight grip of the army rule had been forcibly pushed into a new authoritarian rule, this time by al-Sisi. The man who was never a "politician." He was a military man who knew nothing but violence and authoritarianism—discipline by force. And now he is conducting the same methods on his people; civilians who just want to live life like human beings. In Egypt's case, it is evident that al-Sisi was to become a dictator. When amendments to the Constitution were proposed, that was the biggest red flag in history. It means al-Sisi could stay in power until 2030! In the "election" of 2018, he won 97.08% of the votes. If that's not a dictatorship, I don't know what is. Regardless, al-Sisi's "reforms" and the utter dismantlement of the Muslim Brotherhood were supposed to make Egypt rise. Al-Sisi had promised economic recovery numerous times, over and over again, to crippling businesses and starving citizens who did not even sign up for his takeover. To force yourself upon other people and declare yourself Head of State is a bold move. Numerous people have done it in history—it isn't unprecedented. It is, I must say, an insolent step toward authoritarianism; toward a stringent rule under which the state will face dire economic distress, a repressive judicial and parliamentary system, and—most importantly—robocops who cannot wait to apply the rule. Authoritarianism breeds everlasting problems. HERE TO STAY: If you were given 100% of a company's shares, whose economic potential and strategic role are ever so mighty, and suddenly became the sole shareholder, would you give it up? The answer is no. Hell no. That's the case with every authoritarian—even before they become one. This has been evidently the case with Donald Trump since the second quarter of 2020, with the election closing in, and an inevitable loss is at wait for the sack of oranges. This has been the case with al-Sisi since his very first power move in the coup d'état against Muhammad Morsi. People like Trump do not want to leave the White House. Not arbitrarily did Trump describe al-Sisi as his favorite dictator. It's true—he aspires to be "that much" in control. To be able to call shots (albeit debatable) and control a nation of 98 million people like herds. For weeks, Trump has been frequently and determinedly attacking mail-in ballots and the Postal Office in an attempt to misconstrue the inefficacy of mail-in voting. After being asked if he would accept the results of the election if he lost, his answer was we'll see. Exactly. But Trump is an idiot. I like judging people by their Tweets, and Trump doesn't disappoint to portray anything less than an ignorant duck with no sensical philosophy. A leader shouldn't rant 24/7 on Twitter, and that's what Trump is doing since he took office. Egypt isn't the same as the United States. There are unamendable laws. Trump can barely do anything about it, and the American public is politically aware and awake—generally speaking. However, Egypt (and other Arab states) are dictatorship hellholes. Sadly, dictators in the Middle East have devised an efficient way to tackle social revolutions since the early 2010s, with the Arab Spring spreading like an infectious virus among nations of oppressed, held-back, and economically depressant nations of hundreds of millions. With unabashed and unnecessary force—security institutions arresting and killing people with bald faces; people who are part of their communities, their friends, their neighbors, their family members... With the worst prison systems in the world, the most incompetent, biased, and unfair judicial branch advocating pro-government in cases of national security, treason, and ideology. Muslim Brotherhood members were presented to the court of law but were never given a fair trial. It doesn't matter if you agree with the approach, the ideology, or simply hate the opposing political group. Nothing can justify taking out your political opponents uncontrollably. That's how Egypt moved rather quickly from democracy to authoritarianism, with the endorsement of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, who have been determined to tackle the attempts of coups, revolutions, and any other sort of uprising against their respective governments. For the UAE, it's as simple as cutting ties with states with high coronavirus infections. That's how uprisings are viewed as—a dangerous virus that they do not want anywhere near them. Astonishingly, the UAE was just formed in 1971, and the Emirati dictatorship—Netanyahu wrongly called it a democracy—is one of the most stringent in the world. This might explain the increase of prisoners of conscience in Emirati prisons and respectively the unanimous consensus on the normalization of Arab-Israeli relations. People in dictatorships live in fear. That's the most basic signs of all—when you advocate, endorse, and defend a "leader" whose sole purpose is to rid you of the essence of life, manipulated by the hegemonic regimes of the West, it's a sign that you're pathetic. I can understand why people living under a dictatorship cannot call against the government, and that's because they will simply be imprisoned, tortured, and possibly eliminated. It's what's Saudi Arabia did with Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, what Egypt has done to Morsi, and is doing to other Muslim Brotherhood members. Dissidents are met with dire consequences, and that is not a venture anyone is ready to take. They cannot risk their lives by calling against the continuity of dictatorship. And once that's set in as a societal norm—meaning that members of society adapt to this rule—dictatorship sets in indefinitely. In an article (2014) about social revolutions, Gizachew Tiruneh argues: The fact that not all autocratic and authoritarian regimes have faced revolution suggests that it is not regime type per se that would lead to the onset of revolution. Autocratic or authoritarian states that are quite ineffective may have a higher chance of facing revolutions. 🔗 What this tells us is that effective authoritarian regimes with an efficient police system and a tightknit national security strategy can overcome revolutions. The UAE and Saudi Arabia can easily hinder social revolutions because of encompassing effective policing, which probably pertains to economic abundance. States like Russia and China are not afraid of social revolutions—they're simply farfetched. But states like Egypt are a ripe setting for social revolutions. Political schisms, religious disparities, and ideological disagreements, combined with a feeble and decrepit security system that is dependent on external support, all lead to an uprising when sh*t hits the fan. INTERSECTIONAL DICTATORSHIP If dictatorship is an idea, then it can be applied in every governmental institution, regardless of how much influence the government (theoretically) has on it, and regardless of the institution's political alignment. In Egypt, for example, the judiciary institution is pro-government. Former President Mubarak was tried but acquitted by the court, dismissing charges of conspiracy to kill demonstrators, fraud, and abuse of influence. Judge Mahmoud el-Rashidy said he dropped charges against Mubarak because Cairo Criminal Court didn't have the jurisdiction to try him for the protesters' deaths.🔗 But if we look at Muhammad Morsi's—and other MB members— trials, it becomes evident that the Egyptian court system is corrupt. Morsi was indicted with similar charges to those of Mubarak, but the outcome was very different. Here's a brief review and comparison: This is why I argue that dictatorship is an idea. It's not just al-Sisi, it's the whole system, starting from external influence to the deep-state, to the string-puppet Head of State, to the institutional branches of the government, and finally, to the powerless people.
Biden's New Approach to Turkey: Topple Erdoğan
The United States is still obsessed with interventionism. An Arabic version is available here. Joe Biden sat down in a meeting room, in an interview with the New York Times, and said with a straight face that the United States is in a new position regarding the Turkish-Kurdish relations, and a new approach to the Turkish government has to be established. Biden, who served for 8 full years in the Obama administration, may have been caught in a web of delusion that had convinced him of the United States' Godsent right to resolve disputes in the world. He does believe that the US has the full right to interfere in other countries' problems and disputes—arbitrarily at times—with no consequences. Stating his opinion on Erdoğan, Biden referred to the obligation to "take the Turkish president down," albeit in a democratic way—through elections. He talked about bolstering the Kurdish minority to help them topple Erdoğan and influence the parliament. In addition, he said that the Turkish president has to "pay a price." Despite the details of the dispute between the Kurds and Turkey, and despite Erdoğan's involvement in either resolving or fueling it, Biden's statement comes off as shitty. Three months until the election against Donald Trump, the footage in which Biden divulges these statements (which reportedly were not supposed to go public) reveals the American indifference and insolence and exposes the hideous double-standards of White House politicians. Biden wants equality and justice for Kurds. I get that. I do want that too. But why go after Turkey with the issue of the Kurds? If Biden lacks a list (I'm sure he doesn't) of minorities that are being oppressed, tortured, and even killed, I can gladly provide one for him. Sure, he did comment on China's atrocities against the Uyghurs, but I'm not sure he ever threatened to take down Jinping, the Chinese president. If you're still unaware, an ethnic genocide is afoot in China. In Syria, Bashar al-Assad has done everything that is to be done by a bloodthirsty, amoral, and inhuman dictator. In Iraq, it was the United States who had killed women and children in the name of eradicating terrorism. In Yemen, a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran is killing families and destroying the country. So why does Biden focus on Turkey? The question is whether he's even able to interfere in other countries' internal affairs? Biden—and the White House, now, then, and still—see Turkey as an archrival. Turkey, an up-and-comer in the international political landscape, and whose economy has rendered it mighty, independent, and forceful, is perceived as danger. Erdoğan is seen as a powerful leader without a care in the world about the hegemonic powers of the world. America wants to control the world; the US government wants puppet regimes to control, manipulate, and subject to its own interests. A similar case could be Egypt, where now Abdulfattah al-Sisi operates as a crumbling, pathetic president anxious to satisfy his paymasters in Washington. Truly, Trump's remarks on al-Sisi as his favorite dictator proved him to be "working." Also read — Erdoğan: An Axiom of Islamic Leadership or Just a Muslim? The United States considers herself a global hegemon in the political landscape, especially when it comes to the Near and Middle East. Turkey is a rising power, with economic and geopolitical potential that can rattle the Washington administration with its political alignments. And so, America will not allow a regime with a strongly opposing ideology to even exist, especially if it was Muslim. Turkey will not allow US interventionism to disparage its rightfully elected president, who has established that Turkey is an independent state with powerful leadership. And let's take a moment to remind the US government of all the atrocities which it has done in the world since the United States was founded. Hell, since the beginning of the 21st century—that's plenty. So Biden, please don't lecture governments about morality and civil society. Subscribe to The Newsletter for more articles.
Does a College Degree Matter?
Why you should go to college, but not stop there. No one can say—for certain—that by not attending college you will become (more) successful, and no one is saying—for certain—that going to college will make you a megastar in your industry. College is somewhat essential to today's life. Certain jobs demand that you have a degree of some sort from an educational institute; this is what qualifies you to work certain jobs. Going to college reinforces the subconscious idea of a person that they are smart, intelligent, and sophisticated. These traits are what companies want in their candidates because it affects how the company works and establishes a "norm." These traits, however, are not necessarily found in people who attend college, no matter the subject. Individuals are not framed similarly because one template does not fit all. Assessing people is a subjective matter. While more companies have started hiring people without degree requirements, it is the majority on the showground that dictates the norm: having a college degree is essential to obtain a job in any industry. However, as the world progresses into adopting a more liberal, lenient approach, companies will start hiring people without degrees. Apple CEO Tim Cook believes that "a college degree is not necessary" to be successful, and behind him stands a crowd of "big" companies that are doing the same thing. Going to college is not like going to high school. In high school, you learn "the essentials" that help you progress into a designated subject afterward in college. In college, however, you learn certain subjects that help you focus on a career. But what if college doesn't give you the needed skillset to do your best work? According to Cook, the skills that are coming out of colleges and the skills that we believe we need in the future are different. Among those skills, said Cook, is coding. Let's not forget the fact that college tuition is infeasible. It's easier for young people—who have neither the time nor the money—to look for jobs that require less than a college education. Does that make these candidates any less intelligent, or is the company any less respected? About half of [Apple's] U.S. employment [in 2018] was people who did not have a four-year degree. With the shift to a more flexible approach to employment, young people are finding it easier to get hired at big companies like Google, IBM, and Apple. With a college degree, they would probably be rejected. This shift changes how small companies operate within the bounds of preliminary education. A Big Waste of Time Four years or more in college will land you a "respected" degree which is supposed to give you access to high-paying jobs in the industry. If you take the time after high school to learn coding, for example, and apply for a job at Apple, wouldn't it be a better use of your time? Why waste four years in college when you can skip the whole misery and still get hired in a wide selection of big-name companies? Besides, when you finish college, you don't often get the needed skill set for a job. This is why education in most colleges, in most countries, is theoretical education and not vocational education. While it is true that for certain subjects, education cannot be anything other than vocational. They are learning the basics of the "job" after all. But for those studying primarily in the Humanities field, it's quite unrealistic to teach theories when the main goal of attending college is obtaining a job afterward. Very few people attend college to immerse themselves in academia. The majority of those who attend college do so to impress employers and add credentials to their resumes. College is not for learning; it's for obtaining credentials to work in a designated work field. Most of the students who attend classes are "painfully bored." College is a waste of time and money. — Prof. Bryan Caplan for the Business Insider. If the end goal of college students is to obtain a job that provides for them, then why don't they learn the essentials for the job, instead of learning subjects that will not help them in their careers? People who want to become programmers do not need college—that is if their sole purpose of going to college is obtaining a relevant job in the industry. But here emerges a second problem. Some people argue that, while college does not necessarily mean you will become successful in life, it still provides a lifeline. You can go to college and grab a degree with the blink of an eye, and you can try out different things afterward. You can work as an entrepreneur or a freelancer in graphic design, or you can establish a startup in anything you can think of. College can still give you a way out from that if you deem it unsuccessful. You can always step back and apply for a 9-5 job using your degree. So much potential and talent are wasted in school and ordinary 9–5 jobs. It is important to say, however, that for other people, it’s merely the maximum they can achieve in life. Intelligence and the ability to have this view of life varies among people. In addition, some people—and I’ve met them—simply have no dreams. They want to graduate and get a job to start making money and settle in the life they’ve pictured inside their heads, which is basically the life their parents had before them. It also varies between societies and cultures. Some people are just raised to believe that taking risks will ruin their life. Once your project or “dream” fails, you’re irredeemable and you’re forever a failure. This is what parents teach their children and the school system perpetuates that idea. It’s easier to follow the norm because it’s what everyone does. It makes you feel like you’re doing something wrong when you deviate from it. Whether it's a good decision to go to college is determined only by you. Let nobody tell you what you should do. Colleges are tools that enable you to explore new things in life, but they should never be the only tools as predetermined by society. If you want to work a 9-5 job that requires no degree, then go for it—that does not mean you're a failure. The very fact that you've chosen not to follow societal norms is in itself a success. The Multi-Talented When I see people acquire a college degree and then remain enclosed where they can work with expertise, it upsets me. They become a teacher and that's it: they're teaching for the rest of their adult life until they retire. Their life becomes tedious, routinely, monotonous. While for some people, all they need to do is sustain their family or pay their bills, it is always possible to keep learning and progressing beyond the boundaries of your major. Reading books is a major skill builder. Self-help books, DIY books, analytical and critical non-fiction books, and even novels can up your game. The benefits of reading are unparalleled. Online learning can also prove to be beneficial, both in your own industry and other side jobs. Online courses are everywhere; from Masterclass, Udemy, Udacity by Google, Coursera, to smaller amateur sites like Skillshare. Learning new skills and developing your talents is a key element to success. This can also help you find a side-hustle job—some that can even bring passive income. Learning new languages is another way you can expand your skills and talents. Duolingo offers free courses in a vast variety of languages. Albeit a lengthy journey, it will prove to be beneficial in the long run. Click here to start learning on Duolingo (referral link). You can be two things at one time. You can be a lawyer and a programmer. You can be a science teacher and graphic designer. You can be a doctor and a writer. These skills not only give you the (true) feelings of success but can also be profitable. Societal Prosperity: Doctors or Philosophers? Schools perpetuate the idea that natural sciences are a better choice than social and humanities' sciences. This is inadvertently done by attaching high grades to natural science subjects in high schools and universities and reserving the social sciences to low-achievers. While that is not the school's problem—since a high-achieving student has the ability to choose between natural and social—it does prompt a prejudiced assessment. Also read: Reconstructing Schools: The path to a better education system Parents and society condemn high-achievers for favoring social sciences. A high-achiever is stigmatized at first if they chose to major in social sciences instead of medicine, computer programming, or civil engineering. This widens the gap between the two fields. Finding a middle ground between exact sciences and social sciences is not difficult. But to do so, we have to stop categorizing social sciences as alternative options for those who could not make it to medical school. Thus, history becomes an underrated subject for lesser students, philosophy becomes a repulsive word attracting scoffs from "intellects," and political sciences become a big no-no, because "it promises no career." While we still do need doctors, lawyers, engineers, and nurses, we are also in dire need of social scientists, social workers, and social intellects. In 2020—a time where people die every day to street violence, families are torn apart in a continuous streak, and the change of societal norms takes place before our eyes—it is very much needed that the young generations are educated. “Our rapidly moving, information-based society badly needs people who know how to find facts rather than memorize them, and who know how to cope with change in creative ways. You don’t learn those things in school.” —Wendy Priesnitz Enjoyed this article? Read "5 Important Lessons I Learned from High School" next. NEW: Mortal Past is now available for preorder from Amazon! Get a digital copy for $2.99!
Why You Should Read Politics
Why you should start reading politics today, just like you read sports. In a world of exacerbating daily news and heart-wrenching updates from war-torn countries, and a plethora of corrupted, rigged, and stupid-as-f*ck governments and politicians, it's tough to want to keep up with the dreary politics around the world. Why would you want to read long political arguments when you can read lighthearted and fun fiction? Why would want to read about the war in Yemen when you can binge-watch videos on YouTube? Where's the fun in knowing what new idiocy Trump is committing in America's idiocracy? Well, apart from the fact that you'll get a few laughs and facepalms from the surreal news, politics can actually help you in many ways. Engaging with your community Here's a little factoid for you: you use politics in every aspect of your life that has to do with "dealing with people." The word politics comes from the Greek polis, which means "the affairs of the state." In ancient times, the affairs of the state meant how to deal with people, and setting principles of life and a code of conduct to organize affairs. Human life could not be more connected to politics than it is now in 2020; we are deeply connected, in every aspect of our lives, to politics—per today's definition of the word. We are part of a society that is governed by politics, affected by politics, and literally dependent on politics. Societal prosperity hinges on the efficiency of the political system in the state since the attainment of quality of life pertains to living within an achieving, progressive community. These attributes cannot be acquired without an equally efficient system of governance, which leads us to believe that a corrupted or incompetent political system results in poorer quality of life. And so when you live your life—go about your daily routine of work and sleep and entertainment—without having a basic knowledge of who is in charge of "policing" and governing you as an individual and if they are doing good, you lose your identity as a member of society. What politics really means is adjusting your life to man-made law. When this law affects how much you get paid, for example, you are ought to know who stands behind it, who corroborated it, and is it a good regulation? In any case, you need to know if you're able to change it, or if you're able to express your objection toward it. In order to understand the world around you, you need to have basic knowledge about what is controlling your life. Reading politics enables you to do so. A mere 5-minute skimming of local news will make you aware of what is afoot in the political sphere. Even if this just scratches the surface and doesn't give you the full details of how politics works, at least it gives you a basic understanding. You'll become more educated So many people live their lives without a care in the world. They don't know anything about political parties, geopolitical affiliations, or religious-political groups. They don't even really care about this. If there are elections, they vote to whom they have heard or know to be decent and fit. Unbeknownst to them, these political parties and affiliations can change a lot. People may align with political parties without knowing what they really represent, or what they are trying to change or do in their respective communities. Reading politics can help you make up your mind. Yes, in this case, formulating thoughts and judging these politicians can actually help you distinguish the good from the bad. You'll be able to decide more logically which party you should vote for, or if you should even vote in the first place. There is "lit" in "politics" Have you ever watched a Donald Trump interview? How about a speech from the leader of a local political party? Politics is such an amazing canvas filled with so many laugh-out-loud moments. Put simply, reading (or watching) politics is entertaining. The funny moments of dumb politicians who can't seem to grasp the fact that they are in charge of whole peoples are entertaining to watch. There are a lot of political satire shows out there who not only make unending fun of their national leaders but also narrate the political events in simpler, more understandable language. You'll learn from politics Whether it's the fancy, superfluous language that can help you impress your English teacher, or the DOs and DON'Ts of human interaction, you'll always learn something from reading and watching politics (or any other type of content). The famous YouTube channel Charisma on Command routinely reviews politicians and presidents (and other celebrities) on how they behave in certain situations and presents a takeaway in either human psychology or simple charisma tactics. Where to start? You can start reading local news on politics, either online or from your local newspapers. You can watch political satire. In English, I recommend John Oliver and Trevor Noah. In Arabic, try Joe Show or Al-Saleet Al-Ekhabri. Watch & read political informative sites. Try NowThis News, NBC, Vox, and other media channels. Follow Donald Trump on Twitter. It's a laugh-out-loud playground. Read books on politics. This post probably regards U.S. #politics more than others, but that's a personal preference. I find the American political foyer and the eternal feud between Democrats and Republicans to be both interesting and entertaining. Best #books on politics (in affiliation with Amazon):
On Hagia Sophia
A historical reading and response. After Erdogan's frivolous endeavor and the Turkish courts' ruling of reverting the status of Hagia Sophia as a mosque, several politicians, media outlets, and people from secular backgrounds called out the Turkish government for politicizing religion and manipulating at-loss Muslim sentiments for political gain. Greece “mourned” Hagia Sophia with church bells and half-mast flags, with various people bringing the objection to Twitter and the social media, claiming that Hagia Sophia has always been a church, and will remain to be a church no matter what Turkey does to it. Pope Francis said he is “pained” by the Turkish decision to revert Hagia Sophia, saying “and the sea carries me a little farther away in my thoughts: to Istanbul. I think of Hagia Sophia, and I am very saddened.” The Greek President, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, urged the Pope to put pressure on Turkey and condemned herself the “painful” act. This decision by Turkey undermines the foundations of tolerance and deepens the rift between cultures and religions. Hagia Sophia, formerly a church in the Byzantine era, was turned into a mosque by Mehmet the Conqueror (محمّد الفاتِح) in the year 1453. After the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the formation of a New Turkey led by Kamâl Atatürk, Hagia Sophia was then turned into a museum, holding both Islamic and Christian symbols for visitors to admire. On July 10, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced the signing of a decree that dictated the reverting of Hagia Sophia to the status of a mosque. The backlash began, while many Muslims expressed joy and pride in witnessing the revival of an Islamic heritage site, faced with harsh criticism of such a show-off act. Translation: "Hagia Sophia ... Let the winds be blown in the dome. You are always ours, we are yours ..." Many Muslims from the Arab world (and surely Turkey) came to the defense of the decision, saying that Hagia Sophia has been a mosque since the 1400s; its status as a church is null and void since it was bought by Mehmet the Conqueror with his own personal money, and turned into a mosque afterward. But is this true, historically? Not necessarily. If you read the Hagia Sophia Wikipedia page in English, it is mentioned that "most of the elderly and the infirm/wounded and sick were killed, and the remainder (mainly teenage males and young boys) were chained up and sold into slavery.." However, if you read the Arabic version on Wikipedia, it says that he "assured them of the safety of their lives, their property, and their freedom, and asked them to return home." [My translation]. "أمَّنهم على حياتهم ومُمتلكاتهم وحُرِّيتهم، وطلب منهم العودة إلى بيوتهم." This polarity of historical factuality creates a challenge for those who are looking for the unbiased truth. What struck me first was the quick inaccurate response from Muslim people on the matter. No books cited and without sensible evidence, they claimed that Mehmet the Conqueror "bought" the church with his own money. So why not just skim the surface of relevant literature and find out? In his book, Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror: the Conqueror of Constantinople, Muhammad Ali al-Sallabi notes: "And when they saw [Mehmet's] empathy and forgiveness, they went out and proclaimed their [conversion to] Islam, and [Mehmet] ordered that the church be turned into a mosque..." (page 111). [My translation]. In his book, Mehmet the Conqueror: Hero of Islamic Conquest in East Europe, Dr. Sayyid Ali basically confirms what al-Sallabi has noted. In addition, he refutes the claims of Western historians who try to distort facts with their sentiment, describing the fall of Constantinople in absurd language and inane logic. Sir Edward Shepherd Creasy (1812-1878) describes in his book, History of the Ottoman Turks, atrocious acts done by Mehmet the Conqueror. He notes, referencing the killing of Duke Notaras: "The bloody heads were brought to Mahomet, and placed by his order in a row before him on the banquet table. Many more executions of noble Christians followed on that day, to please the tyrant's savage mood. (page 86). Dr. Ali notes in response to such claims: "It is unimaginable [...] from a Sultan who orders his soldiers to fast before the battle." (page 36). [My translation]. Al-Sallabi also notes that historians such as Edward Shepherd Creasy, who "tried in his book History of the Ottoman Turks to [falisfy and] distort the image of the Ottoman conquer of Constantinople" (page 112). [My translation]. If you were to look at the lengthy history of Islamic conquests, you will find numerous sources that confirm the inanity of the western allegations. Some Muslim scholars admit that, while conquests were more brutal than others, this was the norm at that period of time. Compared to the crusades, Islamic conquests are nothing. It is interesting to read a bold claim such as Edward Shepherd Creasy's, which holds no truth to reality. As Dr. Ali notes, it is unimaginable and improbable that a devout Sultan such as Mehmet II conducts these grim acts of killing and massacres of innocent civilians. Some anti-Muslim historians argue that Islam is in itself a religion of hatred, war, and wicked massacre, but that is fundamentally wrong to say. Those who cannot read Arabic have access to English versions of the Quran. If you look anywhere in the Quran or the Sunnah, you will not find any verse or saying that dictates hatred, approves of innocent killing or promotes violence. “Fight in the way of Allah with those who fight with you, and do not exceed the limits,” says the Muslim holy book, the Koran, “surely Allah (God) does not love those who exceed the limits.” (Quran, 2:190). In fact, such allegations are not only lies but also ludicrous to say. Had Creasy studied the Islamic faith, he would have known that wars in Islam have preset rules and regulations. In short, here's the prophet's will to his army: "ولا تَقْطَعَنَّ شَجَرَةٍ وَلا تَعْقِرَنَّ نَخْلًا ولا تَهْدِمُوا بَيْتًا" - which translates to: "Do not cut a tree, nor a palm, nor destroy a house." He also forbade the killing of women and children. In a famous decree, Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, the first Caliph, told his military commander: “Stop, O people, that I may give you ten rules for guidance on the battlefield. Do not commit treachery or deviate from the right path. You must not mutilate dead bodies; do not kill a woman, a child, or an aged man; do not cut down fruitful trees; do not destroy inhabited areas; do not slaughter any of the enemies’ sheep, cow or camel except for food; do not burn date palms, nor inundate them; do not embezzle (e.g. no misappropriation of booty or spoils of war) nor be guilty of cowardliness…You are likely to pass by people who have devoted their lives to monastic services; leave them alone." (Source). To put this in context, we can now say that no, Mehmet II did not "buy" the church of Hagia Sophia. This is not mentioned (and even refuted) in history books. At that time, the code of conduct and the norm was that a conquered city falls within the jurisdiction of the Sultan; he has power over the conquered region, including its edifices and locale. A city peacefully conquered dictates that all buildings and local services are reserved as is, per the respected agreed-upon treaties. Constantinople was conquered militarily, and so Hagia Sophia fell within the jurisdiction of the Sultan. That being said, it is important to look at history, despite the factual detail differences. Al-Sallabi notes that the occupants of the church "converted to Islam." If we take that under consideration, the conversion of the church to a mosque would make sense. But let's dismiss that, seeing as certain people have a hard time believing this. It is reported that the Church of Hagia Sophia was the center of operations for the Byzantine Empire. It would only make sense for the conqueror to dissimilate the headquarters and nerve center, and establish his rule on it. Had it been anything but a church, it would have met the same fate. Another good reason for Greece not to react to this event is that Hagia Sophia is located in modern-day Istanbul. It is de facto a property of Turkey, not Greece. By reverting Hagia Sophia to its mosque status, Turkey is exercising its independent right to do what she wills with what falls within its borders. A Devilish Hypocrisy If we take a look at history, we can find evidence of mosques destroyed and mosques turned into churches, and (yes) even turned into bars, military inns, and stables. In Greece, the primary condemner of the Hagia Sophia reversion, the mosques were destroyed, turned into museums, cinemas, and, as noted below, military prisons. In Athens, where there is no official mosque open for worship, the oldest mosque, Fethiye Mosque, was used for many different purposes such as a military prison and warehouse after the end of the Ottoman administration in the city. Source. The Greek response to the Turkish decision uncovers the hypocrisy and double standards of the government and the church. While many mosques were destroyed to rubble, and many more turned into churches and other leisure service providers, Greece condemns the reversion of an edifice which has not been a church since 1453. This begs the question, would Greece have done or said anything had Kamâl Atatürk not turned Hagia Sophia into a museum? Mosques were modified not only in Greece. This occurred in Spain throughout the years, as well as in many other states where the Ottoman Empire ruled. The most recent occurrence was the Babri Masjid in India, which was demolished by Hindu extremists. In Palestine, Israel recently turned a 13th-century mosque into a nightclub, not even into a place of worship for a (different) faith. No one was heard condemning this act, nor even criticizing or a mere mention. Israel is still operating behind-the-curtains in Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, with continuous Jewish settlers' visits and a suppressive approach to East Jerusalemites and the Muslim Arab locale. The Middle East: A Divisive Hellhole While the majority of Muslims in the Middle East concurred and celebrated the Hagia Sophia reversion, many secular voices surfaced, prominently in the Egyptian and Saudi media, condemning Turkey. Egyptian newspeople (overstatement, really) interviewed loyalist religious figures in an attempt to avert people's delightfulness from the event, claiming that the prayers of those at Hagia Sophia will not be accepted by Allah because it is conducted on "usurped land." They claim that the Hagia Sophia reversion is mere political lust by Erdoğan and should not be seen as an Islamic accomplishment. The Egyptian media, sadly, is fully controlled and leashed by the government. And since the Egyptian-Turkish relations could not be any worse than they are now, Egyptian media issues full-fledged attacks against Turkey. This, in addition to the fact that Turkey is a friend of Qatar, and the late Egyptian (legitimate) President-elect, Muhammad Morsi. Unfortunately, they have forgotten that Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi is a ruthless dictator who has only worsened the already dire situation in Egypt after he overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood. Translation: "They say Erdoğan celebrated Hagia Sophia for political gain. I say look at what al-Sisi did to a mosque in Rabi'ah for political gain." The Egyptian media is not allowed to criticize their own government, who is failing to control the coronavirus pandemic, with a decrepit economy and a fallible healthcare system. Others condemned the symbolic sword-sermon in the first official prayer in Hagia Sophia on Friday, saying that this is barbaric and a symbol of terrorism and Islamic extremism. The head of religious affairs in Turkey, the same khatib (speaker) who ascended the stairs with a sword, explained that this is an ancient tradition. "Khutbahs (Friday sermons) have been delivered with a sword, without interruption, for 481 years. If Allah permits, we will resume this tradition from now on." Source. What is confusing is that many cultures have this tradition. The sword is clearly a symbol. The hypocrisy here is evident in that when the sword is gripped by a Muslim figure with a beard and an Islamic attire it is dangerous, "barbaric," and "extremist." After all, even if this symbol perpetuates the Islamic ambitions of Erdoğan, or marks the comeback of Ottoman-era Turkey, it is within their own right to do that. In the United States, Evangelist figures overtly support Donald Trump and hold his hand tightly. Is Evangelicalism dangerous? I would say definitely, based on this criterium. There is no question about whether Turkish affairs are Turkey's business alone. The United States can become a theocracy, theoretically speaking, or can even be considered one behind the scenes. The Evangelical agenda of President Trump is more than evident. A Harbinger of War As Greece ups the tension with Turkey following the Hagia Sophia reversion, it is foreseen that a war is on the verge of breakout, as Erdoğan is looking forward to voiding the Lausanne Treaty. The National Interest reports: War Between Greece and Turkey Is Now a Real Possibility "Greek and Turkish fighter jets engaged in mock dogfights this week over the Greek island of Kastellorizo, just a mile and a half from the Turkish coast, causing tourists to flee." - The National Interest.
Why We Must Change Education
The ultimate transformation of how we learn and teach starts with the simplest question, directed to the students: What do you want to do? If you were given the opportunity to change how the learning-teaching process in schools operates, what would you change? The question asked here is not whether we should change the school system or not, but how can we change it. If you think that it shouldn't be changed and that it is good as it is, then you're either an old-school teacher or someone who hasn't fully experienced the downs of high school. Either way, the school system is always in need of development and improvement. It is impossible to cope with the rapid development of technology in today's education system without making alterations accordingly. Schools are obsolete, and if we don't make a change, dropping out of school—or homeschooling—is going to be more beneficial in the long run. Schools are becoming more and more obsolete in the era of new technology. Add to that a plethora of deep-rooted problems within the system itself, and we've got more than enough reasons to change how we teach and learn. If not, at least we must take a look at the educational system and ask the tough questions. A Politicized System To take a look at the school system as a whole, we cannot ignore the element of politics that has a huge influence on how the system functions on a daily basis. The matter of the fact is that the education system is politicized, just like any other ministry. Healthcare has never been about saving lives, but about control. That is what we're seeing today as infection rates of the coronavirus soar in countries around the world. The decisions that the ministry takes are almost always tied to politics; to the intricacies of money, power, and relations. This has been the case in Israel and the United States, specifically. The education system has never been about true, genuinely beneficial education for generations of young students who would graduate to become the structure of their communities. These young men and women receive an education that is highly affected by politics. This brings us to pivotal decisions being made in the realm of education, pertinent solely on political agendas. If the Education Minister is a religious, orthodox man with strict views on science, for example, changes in the educational curricula would reflect his own ideology. So is the case with a secular minister, whose views on religion and God will definitely be mirrored in how the curricula transform. These changes and decisions are affected by election periods and the political foyer of men with no educational background. Generally, the ministerial positions end up in the hand of the elected party, and these positions are distributed among friends of the man in charge, which almost always results in an inefficient job. Just like a rabbi with no healthcare work background cannot be the Health Minister, a politician who barely finished high school cannot be the Education Minister. When the unfit becomes in charge of how academics and intellects must manage the system, the problem deepens more and more. A Uniform Agenda A common problem that community schools face is that there is a strict and rigid formula of teaching from which teachers cannot deviate. Put simply, there is little or no flexibility in how teachers teach their students. Take English, for example. In high school, the uniform agenda dictates that students learn a set of literary texts. Personally, I didn't care for any of them. Not only were they boring, irrelevant (in the cultural sense) works of literature, but also did not add a bit of value to my (our) understanding of English. The problem with schools, in general, is that they are a continuous learning curve. Once you've finished a year, you cannot turn back and redo it. Next year, it is assumed that you have acquired all the necessary preliminary information to progress to the next level. This, sadly, is not the case with many students. Yes, sometimes because they did not pay attention in class or slacked off indifferently in elementary. But mostly, it's because the teacher in that class was not able to pass the material through to the student. When you put 40 students in a classroom, you can never expect them all to be the same. You will always find gaps and astounding differences between them. Their learning capacity is not the same. Their intelligence varies; their emotional characters vary; their personalities are totally different. These 40 students will receive the same information from their teachers and will be assessed by a uniform exam. Students who aren't as good as other students will fall behind, become stigmatized - either by their peers, parents, or teachers—and eventually neglected. When these students reach high school, they've already accumulated enough reasons to drop out or seek external help from expensive private tutors or institutional courses. Not only do they have to pay extra money to "barely" succeed, but they are also considered lesser than their high-achieving peers. Since #students have varying learning capacities, a teacher has to provide raw information that is designated to be digested and comprehended by all students. Teachers have to find a middle ground that both high-achieving and low-achieving students can play in. Succeeding to do so means that the majority of the classroom is doing just fine. However, there will still be over-achieving students—the highly intelligent—who will hate it. They cannot adapt to a middle ground with which they have been familiarized long ago. The same happens to students with very low learning capacities, who may need personal attention from their teacher or extensive aid and extra hours. Failing to find a middle ground, nonetheless, will compel the teacher to adapt to one of the two realms. Either the teacher upgrades to teaching the material in a more complex and advanced way, personalized for the high-achievers, or they alter their methods to help the low-achievers. Either way, however, the majority of the class is then split into two categories, and the learning harmony is ruptured. This is a serious problem in schools today. Low-achievers are lost between cockily happy over-achievers, and are not being addressed, their needs neglected and undermined. This creates generation after generation of undermined abilities. Had they been given the care and help they needed when they began their educational journey, they would have nurtured and developed their abilities. A uniform agenda is bad. In school, I have met with amazing students who were low-achievers. You wouldn't tell they were low-achievers if not for their numerical grades. The sad truth is that students are assessed with numbers, by exams and tests that are also uniform, and never reflect the student's real abilities. An Assessment Problem The biggest problem with the education system is the assessment methods. To be particular, exams and tests, which ultimately label students into successful and screwup, or genius and stupid. Grades—merely numbers—can determine the future of a person - it can determine what he majors in in college, who he becomes after college, and where he can do that. For years, voices of intellects have been reverberating in the educational realms about alternative assessment methods. What this means, essentially, is that students are assessed with practical methods other than orthodox or standard testing. For example, in a literature class, students can be asked to write literature instead of memorizing a bunch of names and plot points. The end goal of education is to acquire #knowledge. This knowledge can either be acquired through frontal teaching; a teacher explaining verbally (sometimes even verbatim according to the text) the material to their students. Then, the students are assessed and tested on the basis of learned material. Alternative Assessment, however, teaches the students either verbally or practically (or both) and assesses them by giving them practical tasks. For instance, in a government or law class, a mock-trial mimicking a courtroom trial is considered an alternative assessment to a written test. “The best way to learn is to do; the worst way to teach is to talk.” — Paul Halmos The main problem with exams—or orthodox assessment—is that they do not reflect the true abilities of the students. Schools often disregard the mental issues of their students when it comes to taking exams. Stress, anxiety, depression, and other serious mental health problems are undermined and neglected, which often leads to students failing classes just because they were not able to adapt to a stressful exam setting. But mental health aside, written tests are just not that effective in teaching. I firsthand experienced written tests since the very beginning of my educational journey. It has become the norm, along with consistent tedious homework, to compel students to an inefficient assessment tool. I admit—and other students—that these exams did not help one bit in the understanding of the material. It merely gives teachers a concrete, sensible evidence and testimony to what each student can achieve. It's a way out for teachers and schools to categorize students, not assess them. Autodidacts for the Win Autodidacticism or self-education is an underrated method of learning that I believe can help students achieve more and understand materials on a deeper level. Personally, I have learned English this way. All of my English teachers—from elementary school to high school—would beg to differ. I'm not saying I haven't benefited from my teachers, I'm saying that the majority of what I know about the English language, I learned myself on the internet and the available literature. I have always been fascinated by the idea of autodidacticism. It liberates a student from the duty-bound stress to score high grades. When you have the freedom to choose what to learn, how to learn it—according to your own capacity, time schedule, and rhythm— is a very effective way to acquire knowledge. I can assuredly and proudly say that most—if not all—of what I learned throughout my years in junior high and high school have been successfully forgotten. They have long left my memory, once I was done with their respective exams. Unfortunately, the only reason students study and actually sit down to read "knowledge" is to pass exams and get it over with. Once the duty and the responsibility to score as high as possible vanishes, there is no reason to acquire more knowledge in the field. Schools claim that learning is fun. They try to incorporate unorthodox teaching methods that "seem" fun to little kids. But it stops—at best—in junior high. There's not really any way to do that for high school students who can't wait to step out of the door. Final Thoughts In all honesty, I have no idea what I'm talking about. I may be right and I may be wrong. The goal of this article is to provoke thoughts about what we perceive as normal. Education has always been the same, and we don't seem to question that enough as people who have gone through the system. We all know how bad the system is, how horrible at assessment and nurturing schools are, and yet once we're out, we don't care anymore. Then it's time for your own children to go through it. Thanks for reading. Here's my previous article on #education: 5 Important Lessons I Learned from High School Subscribe to my newsletter and receive a free copy of my upcoming novel.
Outliving the Sykes-Picot Agreement
How Sykes-Picot changed the Middle East and international diplomacy? Introduction The Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916 is one of the few treaties whose consequences still impress the lives of many people today. The Middle East as we know it was shaped by this agreement, both geographically and nationalistically, to the extent that several subsequent events are pertinent to the decisions of the two parties that signed this agreement. The consequences and aftermath of the Sykes-Picot Agreement are divided into three sections. The first section deals with the partition of geography in the Middle East: the creation and formation of the new Arab states in Mesopotamia, the Levant, and Arabia. The second section regards the rise of Pan-Arabism and Arab national movements in the region, which have taken a strict shape in today’s sphere of international relations 100 years later. The third section pertains to the effects the Sykes-Picot Agreement has had on international diplomacy, principally the shift to treaty publicity and transparency in transnational collaboration. Historical Background During World War I, the great powers of Europe: France and Great Britain, decided – after years of eagerness – to dismember the Ottoman Empire, which had become decrepit throughout the years of cross-country aggression and internal political conflicts. The Sykes-Picot Agreement was already in talks in 1915 between France and Great Britain, with the accord of Russia. Dictating the dismemberment of the lands of the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East, the British representative, Sir Mark Sykes, and his French counterpart, François Georges-Picot, drew a map of a new, post-Ottoman Middle East. In the same time frame in which the talks between Sykes and Picot were afoot, the Sharif of Mecca, Hussein bin Ali, was also in talks with Henry McMahon, planning the Great Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire. An independent Arab state in the Middle East was accorded to Sharif Hussein on paper but never ratified. The Sykes-Picot Agreement, in addition, was far from appeasing to the Arabs and their interests. It partitioned the Arab provinces outside the Arab Peninsula into two British- and French-controlled regions. With the Ottoman Empire, “the sick man of Europe,” nearing inevitable disintegration, the British Empire aimed to secure its interests in the Middle East, as well as have guaranteed access to the Mediterranean. In short, the Agreement accords the lands of southern Palestine, Jordan, southern Iraq, in addition to the ports of Haifa and Acre to the British, while giving France administrative control over Lebanon, Syria, northern Iraq, and southeastern Turkey (Grey & Cambon, 1916). The Sykes-Picot Agreement is met with harsh criticism from the Arabs and the international community, as it negates the British promises to the Arabs in 1916 and establishes a colonial administration over Arab mandate states in the Middle East. State-Building in the Middle East To appease the interests of every party involved, the lands of the Levant, Mesopotamia, and Arabia were divided into mandate states and accorded to France and Britain. The partition was geographic in reality, but not in essence. The true intentions of the achieved geographic partition in the Levant and Mesopotamia were fueled by economic factors, pertinent to the national interests of both the British Empire and France. Therefore, the artificiality of the newfound states after Sykes-Picot pertains to economic interests, among others – not including the region’s own. Turbeen (1987) states that the Sykes-Picot agreement is theft of the Arab victory over the Ottoman rule and is a negation to the promises given to Sharif Hussein [by Britain]. The Ottoman states in the Arab East became Arab states under foreign control by the British and the French, without an iota of consideration toward the natives’ or the state’s national interest (pp. 147-149). The amendments and modifications that ensued the original Sykes-Picot Agreement are good examples of both the British and the French putting their own national interests before their respective spheres of influence in the Middle East. The borders between the Levant states were established according to the negotiations of the foreign states [the British Empire and France] and their national interests. Mosul (al-Mawsil), for example, was contained in the French influence zone, according to Sykes-Picot. However, after its takeover by Britain, and their greed in Mosul oil, France was asked to amend the agreement to become in good terms with the economic interests of the British Empire. In Syria, the French occupation looked to divide the Syrian unity and shatter it from the inside, thus dividing Syria into four micro-states, fully detached from one another. (Turbeen, 1987, pp. 150-151). The British takeover of the Arab provinces proved to be preserving self-interest for Britain, and so was the case for France, making the putative artificiality of the states “invoked to justify the colonial administration of the territory” (Bâli, 2016, p. 118). It is also important to note that the British and French “were dividing amongst themselves lands that Sharif Hussein was claiming for the future Arab kingdom” (Rogan, 2015, p. 101). Sharif Hussein bin Ali was in talks with Sir Henry McMahon for four months, concluded by a promise to Hussein to establish an “Arab kingdom.” However, Hussein did not want to upset the alliance between Britain and France or drive a wedge between the empires, and so made geographical compromises. For example, he gave up the inclusion of British-occupied vilayets in Iraq for a sum paid for the “period of occupation.” He also struggled – but conceded – to give Syria to France. Rogan (2015) states: French claims to Syria were harder for the emir to accept. The Syrian provinces, he insisted, were “purely Arab” and could not be excluded from the Arab kingdom. Yet in the course of their exchange, Sharif Hussein conceded he wished to avoid what may possibly injure the alliance of Great Britain and France and the agreement made between them during the present wars and calamities. (p. 101). The colonial architecture was built on the economic factors and capitalist interests of Britain and France in the region. Ancient resources, like rivers and seas, and modern ones, like oil and gas potential, in addition to the value of ports and harbors, were key to designing the Sykes-Picot map. (Ṭarābulsī, 2016, p. 13). The fact that Britain initiated two parallel discussions regarding the Middle East and the Ottoman Empire was enough evidence that they had not taken into consideration the region’s interests. This is unapologetically mentioned in the correspondence between Sir Edward Grey and Paul Cambon, in which the Sykes-Picot Agreement is stated in full. The correspondence dictates that Britain and France “shall be allowed to establish such direct or indirect administration or control as they desire and as they may think fit to arrange with the Arab State or Confederation of Arab States” (Grey & Cambon, 1916). Britain overtly tried to agitate the Arab regions to revolt against the Ottoman Empire and attain independence via an Arab kingdom and helped them achieve that goal. However, the true intentions of helping Arabs gain independence from the Ottomans was for Britain to seize control and covertly colonize the Middle East, with France. Ottaway (2015) notes that “France and Britain had no experience with state-building overseas – colonization was about control, pacification, and low-cost administration, not about state-building” (p. 5). The Sykes-Picot Agreement was considerate and solicitous to the interests of the colonial powers of Europe. Promises given to the Arab provinces and Sharif Hussein bin Ali were negated for the purpose of expanding the gains of Britain. Kitching (2016) notes that “the division was based on desires rather than practicalities. Ethnic groups, traditional hostilities, and deep-rooted religious tensions were ignored.” (p. 20). This disregard for not only regional interests but also different types of schisms and multiplicity of ethnic, religious, and national groups in the Arab provinces, whose borders included uncountable and multi-integrated diverse backgrounds resulted in an even bigger challenge to the region. Bâli (2016) notes: “Where state partition has been applied as a “solution” to intractable conflicts, the strategy has “generated enduring inter-state rivalries, chronic state fragility and reproduced the same ethnic inequalities that led to partitioning in the first place” (p. 118). Pan-Arabism and the Rise of Nationalism As talks between Britain, France, and Russia took place, correspondence between Britain and the Arabs, represented by Sir Henry McMahon and the Sharif of Mecca Hussein bin Ali, promised an independent Arab state in the Middle East (McMahon & Hussein, 1916), supported by Britain. However, zealousness expressed by Sharif Hussein quickly faded away after the Sykes-Picot Agreement was disclosed by the Bolsheviks in Russia in 1917. Not having foreseen this, Hussein was in a state of shock, and quickly asked for an explanation from Great Britain. The Bassett Letter, dated February 1918 from the British government to King Hussain, assured him that the mention of the secret agreement is yet another instance of Turkish trickery. However, the letter did not “admit or deny the authenticity of the Petrograd disclosures, but gave a misleading presentation of the character and scope of the Agreement.” (Antonius, 1938, p. 257). The letter put Hussain’s mind at ease that the Allies supported the Arab interests. Along with the disclosure of the Balfour Declaration, the Sykes-Picot Agreement created a shockwave among the Arabs, especially due to the fact that the Balfour Declaration implied “a denial of Arab political freedom in Palestine.” This instance provoked a wave of protest on the part of the Arab leaders in Cairo. According to Antonius (1938), the British authorities there, “aided by strict censorship and active propaganda service, had much to do to allay Arab apprehensions and prevent a collapse of the Revolt.” (p. 267). After the disclosure of the secret Agreement concocted by the British with the Zionists and the French, vis-à-vis the disposal of the Arab provinces and newfound, “liberated” states in the Levant and Mesopotamia, Arabs started to formulate an increased form of resentment to foreign involvement and control by the European powers. After the Hashemite family set roots in establishing an Arab rule in different parts of the region, “their grip on power was being challenged” by tribal leadership and national movements, especially in Hejaz. (Kitching, 2016, p. 21). Rogan (2015) notes that in Egypt, “political elites knew precisely what they wanted. After thirty-six years of British occupation, they wanted Egypt’s total independence.” However, the British distributed their military power where protestors expressed their resentment of British occupation. The Egyptians accused Britain of “using live fire against demonstrators, burning villages, and even committing rape.” (p. 103). In Syria, the British installed Faisal, the son of Hussein bin Ali, in recognition of his and his father’s help to defeat the Ottoman rule in the region. However, “Faisal wanted a truly independent Syrian state that included Palestine and Transjordan, and so did the Syrian nationalists who were well represented in the parliament elected in 1919” (Ottaway, 2015, p. 7). Faisal’s state, alongside his opposition, would turn out to be fatal for his rule. Rogan (2015) also notes, regarding the Syrian nationalist movement under French rule: On November 1, 1919, the British withdrew their army from Syria and handed the country over to French military rule. The Syrian General Congress, an elected body convened by Faisal’s supporters with representatives from the different regions of Greater Syria, responded on March 8, 1920 by declaring the independence of Syria with Faisal as their king. (p. 104). The British government supported Hussein bin Ali at the time of their exchanged correspondence in 1916, allowing Hussein to envisage an independent Arab state where Ottomans ruled for centuries. As soon as the Ottoman grip had weakened, “nationalists gained prominence in Cairo, Damascus, and Baghdad, among others.” (Ottaway, 2015, p. 4). This envision for an independent Arab state made Hussein not only vehement to achieve the outcome, but it also stirred the spirit of nationalism among Arabs. In addition to the hollowness left by Britain and France in the Levant, pertinent to the Arabs, a prominent feature of British disregard for nationalism and independence was the question of an independent Kurdish state. The British had enough power to repress the opposition and maintain control “but did not have the time or capacity to build a functioning political system, institutions, and a common identity.” (Ottaway, 2015, p. 5). Britain promised the Arabs in Iraq a form of self-government, supported and recognized by the Allies. However, standing witness to the occurrences and nationalist events in Egypt and Syria, “the Iraqis grew increasingly suspicious as the months passed without any tangible progress toward the promised self-government.” (Rogan, 2015, p. 105). In the San Remo conference, Iraq was given to Britain as a mandate, which confirmed the Iraqis’ concerns about the truth of self-government. Rogan states that: At the end of June 1920, Iraq erupted in nationwide rebellion against British rule. Disciplined and well-organized, the insurgency threatened the British in Basra, Baghdad, and Mosul. (p. 105). The effects of Sykes-Picot go beyond simply geographic or demographic awareness of the Allies. Britain and France were only considerate of their own national interests, and not a stable post-Ottoman Middle East. The map drawn by Sir Mark Sykes and François Georges-Picot was evidently a way to secure and attain economic and imperial expansion at the expense of the indigenous interests in Mesopotamia and the Levant. Pan-Arabism in the Middle East took another shape after the ratification – or rather, semi-ratification – of the Sykes-Picot Agreement. Instead of a united Arab front under one independent Arab state, as promised by Great Britain, Arabs in the dismantled lands of the region found themselves fighting off British expansionism, and thus formulating new nationalist ideologies pertinent to each’s different case. Effect on Diplomacy and Transparency The disclosure of the Sykes-Picot Agreement spurred international bitterness toward secret treaties between states, alongside other treaties published by the Bolsheviks in Russia. Great Britain and France together disclosed the Sykes-Picot Agreement with Russia, seeing as the question of the Holy Places in Palestine was pertinent to the tsarist empire. After the Bolshevik revolution, however, the tsarist files, including copies of secret treaties between the Allies, were disclosed to the public. Trotsky, who led the project of disclosing the secret files, “understood the impact that disclosure could have, since the treaty, despite its contemplation of statehood, showed France and Britain as duplicitous in relation to the Arabs. Trotsky published a summary of the Sykes-Picot text in the government newspaper Izvestiia under the headline ‘Secret Diplomacy and the Question of Palestine’.” (Quigley, 2017, p. 257). Public opinion, Quigley states, was shocked, “because the major powers had promised one thing in public while they agreed to something else in private.” (p. 259). The international community then believed that transparency and publicity of treaties and agreements were key to improving international order, where it is “governed by law rather than power politics.” (Donaldson, 2017, p. 575). With the creation of the League of Nations, the United States, headed by President Woodrow Wilson, put the subject of transparency in diplomacy in the forefront, stressing the importance in the Covenant of the League of Nations: Every treaty or international engagement entered into hereafter by any Member of the League shall be forthwith registered with the Secretariat and shall as soon as possible be published by it. No such treaty or international engagement shall be binding until so registered. (Article 18, League of Nations Covenant, 1919). Woodrow Wilson reacted with a fierce stance on the disclosed treaties. He was already critical of the imperialist powers of Europe “for the control they exercised outside Europe, and the Bolshevik revelations gave him additional evidence of Europe’s misdeeds.” (Quigley, 2017, p. 260). In his speech to the U.S. Congress in 1918, Wilson started by stressing the importance of transparency and open diplomacy: Open covenants of peace openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind, but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view. (Point I). Hudson (1925) purports that Article 18 of the Covenant “constitutes a striking innovation.” He continues, “No precedents for it existed.” (p. 276). Therefore, the disclosure of the secret treaties not only exposed the imperialist politics and perfidy. The duplicity in Britain and France’s correspondence regarding the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire was a focal point in the subsequent years of international relations. The effect of the disclosure of the secret treaties and files in 1917 led to a major change in the diplomatic procedures. The Covenant of the League of Nations marks the beginning of a new international law forbidding secret treaties. Donaldson (2017) notes that “aspects of Article 18 were carried over into Article 102 of the UN Charter, which in turn was echoed in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (VCLT).” (p. 576). This shift in diplomacy practice and the change toward more open diplomacy with a transparent, publicly-accessible treaty registration system was an indirect outcome to what Trotsky wanted. Albeit secondary, the disclosure of secret files by the Bolsheviks led the union of world states to adopt – or rather adapt to – an open-book political era, leading to what today the United Nations Charter recognizes as the international law of transparent diplomacy. Conclusion The Sykes-Picot Agreement is one of the most important agreements and events in understanding and assessing today’s Middle East. The consequences of the Sykes-Picot Agreement spanned the Middle East particularly but also affected worldwide diplomacy, as well as birthed new forms of nationalism among the newfound states. These consequences can be concentrated into three main points: (1) the geographic, (2) the nationalist, and (3) the diplomatic. These categories can help us understand how Sykes-Picot changed the Middle East. The first category offers an explanation from the geographic viewpoint; the partition of the Arab provinces was done to appease the economic and administrative interests and needs of the Allies. The second category explains the aftermath of Sykes-Picot from an ideological viewpoint; the partition of the intrinsically diverse region led to even more challenging schisms in religion, ethnicity, and state-nationalism, thus worsening the problem instead of resolving it. The third category can tell us how Sykes-Picot, alongside other secret treaties disclosed by the Bolsheviks in 1917, changed international diplomacy and led to the formation of a new transparent system of treaties and agreements. While all arguments suggest that the Sykes-Picot Agreement marked an era of diplomatic duplicity and disloyalty by imperialist Great Britain and France, the only argument that can explain the outcome of Sykes-Picot is Britain and France’s attempt at state-building. The imperialist powers sought their own interests, whether economic or administrative, first and foremost. The idea of helping Arabs achieve independence over the Ottoman Empire was secondary, as well as the creation of a stable, post-Ottoman Middle East. This outcome of the agreement was sought after and intended, rather than foreseen. Reference List Antonius, G. (1938). The Arab awakening: The story of the Arab national movement. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott. Bâli, A. (2016). Sykes-Picot and “artificial” states. AJIL Unbound, 110, 115-119. Donaldson, M. (2017). The survival of the secret treaty: Publicity, secrecy, and legality in the international order. American Journal of International Law, 111(3), 575-627. Hudson, M. (1925). The registration and publication of treaties. The American Journal of International Law, 19(2), 273-292. Kitching, P. (2016). The Sykes-Picot agreement and lines in the sand. Historian, (128), 18-22. League of Nations. (1919). The Covenant of the League of Nations. Montreal: A.T. Chapman. McMahon, H., and Hussein, Ali. (n.d.). The McMahon-Hussein Correspondence 1915-1916 [Correspondence]. Ottaway, M. (2015). Learning from Sykes-Picot. Middle East Program Occasional Paper Series. Washington, DC: Wilson Center. Quigley, J. (2017). Leon Trotsky and the prohibition against secret treaties. Journal of the History of International Law, 19(2), 246-273. Rogan, E. (2015). A century after Sykes-Picot. The Cairo Review of Global Affairs, 19. Ṭarābulsī, F. (2016, Spring). Miʾiawīaẗu Sāīks Bīkū: Al-Harāʾīṭ Wāltārīẖ [The centenary of Sykes-Picot: Maps and history]. Bidayat Magazine, (14), 4-13. Turbeen, A. (1987). Al-taǧziʾiaẗu al-ʿarabīah kaīfa taḥaqaqat tārīẖīan [The Arab partition: How it happened historically]. Markazu dirāsātu al-wiḥdaẗi al-ʿarabīā [Center for Arab Unity Studies]. Wilson, W. (1918, January 8). President Wilson's Fourteen Points [Speech]. World War I Document Archive. Sykes-Picot Agreement. (1915).
Erdoğan: An Axiom of Islamic Leadership or Just a Muslim?
A dissection of the Arab-Turkish relations and an overview of Erdoğan’s Islamism. Note before reading: “Islamic law,” “Sharia law,” or “Islamic state” are not scary terms. No, an Islamic state is not ISIS — you should probably stop watching Fox News and start reading authentic sources about Islam and Islamic law. Whatever our Lord says, whatever our beloved Prophet says, we shall follow that path. — Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The popularity of the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the Arab Muslim world has even surmised that in Turkey itself. He has become a “transnational leader” for the ummah as he rules “in accordance” with the Islamic faith. He represents the Muslim nation in international events, raising important issues relating to the stateless, exiled, and oppressed Muslims around the world. For many Muslims, Erdoğan is a good leader, if not great. Important to note is the fact that Erdoğan is not liked in Turkey as one would think. This can explain why he almost lost the earlier elections. Erdoğan has rapidly transformed Turkey from a consuming state to a manufacturing and production giant that exports goods to the entire world. Under Erdoğan’s regime, Turkey has become the political and economic monster the west had feared it would become. His powerful stance against the western underworld, combined with a respectful and powerful presence in the political sphere of the Middle East, has made him what he is in the Muslim world: the beloved leader of Muslims. Not so fast, though. While Muslims, in general, love Erdoğan, there are certain parties of Muslims that are not fond of the Turkish sultan. Primarily, those who don’t believe in democracy as a means to proclaiming an Islamic state (which Turkey is slowly becoming), and those who are on the non-Islamic side of things: the secular, who don’t believe in Islam as a means to political rule altogether. These stem from religious (or non-) backgrounds, of course. They are not accurate, but a general visualization of viewpoints. “Keep Islam inside the mosques.” Secular Muslims do not “strictly” adhere to Islamic law. More than that, they rarely tend to follow the exact teachings of the religion. Their view of the Islamic faith is revolved around it being a “religion” and nothing more than that. For Muslims, Islam is a way of life — a perfectly-organized lifestyle — which includes all aspects of life: political, social, economic, and individual. Secular Muslims believe that Islam is — and should be — constrained between the narrow walls of individualism. Secular Muslims dislike Erdoğan. To them, he’s nothing more than an oppressor dictatorlike ruler who prioritizes faith over human rights. They often criticize his way of rule, his decisions, and general viewpoints. They’re not “in terms” with Erdoğan. The Inbetweeners I call them “regular Muslims” because they make the majority of Muslims in the world. They take Islam seriously, they believe it’s a complete lifestyle that includes the political sphere as well, and they mostly do practice Islam. Their fondness of Erdoğan is mainly because of his portrayal as a great Muslim leader who had done (has been doing) wonders to help Muslims rise from ashes. For decades now, the Muslim world has been getting punched in the guts with the cycle of atrocious dictatorships that rule their states, e.g. Egypt’s Al-Sisi, Saudi Arabia’s Muhammad bin Salman, and Syria’s Al-Assad. Because Erdoğan does not agree with these Arab (“Muslim”) state leaders, who are hated in most of the Arab world, he is thought of as being like-minded with the Arab world. Thusly, when Erdoğan does something worthy of praise (something of Islamic nature; a powerful, unexpected stance) regular Muslims will compliment him. When the ideology or worldview is similar, expect alignment, even if only verbal. “No Islam through democracy.” Hizbul-Tahrir al-Islami or the Islamic Party of Liberation is one of the most prominent critics of Islamic rule through democracy. They believe that democracy is a poisonous form of rule and lifestyle, what with its doings in the Middle East. For these Muslims, an Islamic state should completely diverge from and rebel against the democratic ideology, either verbally, practically, or both. The rise to power through democracy and then transforming that democracy into an Islamic rule is not an option. Their aim is to entirely replace the corrupt social system that is currently in control.
The phrase “ex injuria non oritur jus” can explain their viewpoint of international law. The Latin phrase translates to “law does not arise from injustice.” In Arabic, (mistakenly took as a prophetical saying or Hadith), it’s a very common phrase among Muslims: “ما بُنيَ على باطِل فهو باطِل”.
In Islam, there is no manmade law. Muslims take their laws and legal rules from the Quran and the prophetic Sunnah, as well as other legislation sources. Democracy was “forced upon Muslims by the West,” rendering an Islamic rule (like the late Ottoman) not only obsolete in the eyes of the Muslim public, but also impractical and unattainable. Part of the “regular Muslims” believes that there is no other option but to “go with the flow” and transform a current democracy into an Islamic rule.
However, for “zealot” Muslims, whose end goal is forming a state with an Islamic legislation system, building an Islamic state on the rubble of democracy would incur a democratic aftertaste no matter what.
But if Erdoğan is doing something to help Muslims and rules per Islamic law, doesn’t that make him an Islamic ruler? Even if he’s there through democracy?
The reality of it is that this viewpoint of “pure” Islamic law is theoretical in its very nature. Their notion is rather impractical if we try to implement it in real life. Take a democratic state and tell me how you would take down democracy (which has grown core-deep roots) easily? It is impossible without war, a coup d’état, or a political/military takeover. All of these procedures are bound to entail human losses, overall destruction of the state, and, put simply, chaos.
Erdoğan is not intending to form a pure Islamic state or any Islamic state for that matter. He is still perceived as a Muslim leader because of his ideology, as well as his form of rule. Erdoğan’s Muslim critics believe that any Islamic law that he issues is null and voided. No matter what he does — good or bad — he is still not the Islamic ruler they want. It is important to note that many critiques of Erdoğan are just: his political viewpoints and (formal or informal) alliances with Russia, the United States, and Iran are seen as “treason for the Muslim ummah.”
Erdoğan is not the only one who rules by Islamic (or semi-Islamic) law. His Muslim critics also condemned Egypt’s late president-elect Muhammad Mursi, for rising through democracy to form an Islamic state — or change laws to become in harmony with Islam.
It is important to also note that this is a wide spectrum. Some parties, like the aforementioned Party of Liberation, are considered Muslim by, say, regular Muslims. They’re considered very Muslim by secular ones, as well. But that’s just because they identify as a Muslim party and act accordingly. Hizbullah also identifies as Muslim, albeit Shiaa, but is not considered Muslim by other parties. So is the case with the now decrepit ISIS. Parties who identify as Muslim do not necessarily represent Islamic law. Islam is represented by its own law, not by the adoptions or behaviors of individuals or groups. Subscribe to my newsletter to receive notifications about new reads! How Islamic are Erdoğan’s Actions? Not every action that Erdoğan takes necessarily stems from a religious background. It oftentimes has nothing to do with religion. If Erdogan decides to deploy troops in Libya to fight against Haftar, it’s probably because of politics, economy, and diplomacy, not to help the rebels win. When Erdoğan meets with Donald Trump, it’s probably because of economic reasons, not to tell him off or show a “powerful presence” against the world’s “strongest” country. Erdoğan’s concerns are not purely religious. Sure, he “cares” about Syrian refugees losing their home, and thus wanting to return them to a safe zone back in their country. But he’s also concerned about his economy going downhill. He’s worried about national security, about international leverage.
If this equation was to be truly employed, then Erdoğan shaking hands with Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump, Emmanuel Macron, or Hasan Nasrullah should be condemned as not only treason but even possibly infidelity. Afterall, conspiring or allying with non-Muslim states of aggression is not allowed under Islamic law.
Judging Erdoğan’s actions solely as religious is problematic, as it creates a paradox when Erdoğan does something Islam does not concur or dictate. And since Erdoğan is not a prophet or a higher entity than other Muslims, trusting him blindly would be foolish, as well as it would imply that he has higher power than an intellectual human being.
This is where fans of the Turkish president fall short on explanation, letting critics interrogate their beliefs as soon as Erdoğan’s slipups come to light.
Certain decisions are purely based on an economic or political agenda that he has to follow as a democratic leader of a nation called Turkey. If the Turkish economy was dependent on helping Israel or allowing U.S. troops into American-Turkish military bases, then Erdoğan has no choice but to comply. It would have nothing to do with religious beliefs.
On the other hand, there is some whiff of religious influence on some of Erdoğan’s actions. Certain decisions that he takes — whether diplomatically or within his country — stem from a preliminary Islamic identity.
Erdoğan is a loudmouth Muslim. He is proud that he’s a Muslim, and he’s not afraid to shout it. Unlike all other Muslim leaders, he’s done so much for the Arab and Muslim world (read, Middle East). He’s stood with Muslims against their aggressors and condemned acts of terror “in the name of Islam.” We’re all relieved and happy that he hates Egypt’s Al-Sisi (who likes him?) Arabs and Turks: Friends or Enemies? The history between Arabs and Turks dates back to the eighth century. The primary connection — or the only one — was Islam. The Turkic people fought alongside the Abbasid Arabs in the Battle of Talas against the Chinese in 751, and consequently, the Abbasid caliphate controlled Turkic regions and integrated the Turks within their military system, who rapidly rose to high ranks. Over the years, a large mass of the Turkic people converted to Islam, thus removing the nationalist barriers and uniting with Arabs under the Islamic faith. The Abbasid caliph asked for the Seljuk Sultan’s help when the Shiite invasion was dawning on Baghdad by the Buyid dynasty. Tuğrul Bey, the founder of the Seljuk Empire, then strengthened the ties between Turks and the Abbasid Arabs by marrying the caliph’s daughter.
The Seljuk Empire became known as the leader of Muslims, thus conquering most of the Arab regions. When the Empire became history rubble, it was time for the Ottomans to inherit the rule. Servants of Islam, the Ottomans were given praise and gratitude by other Muslim societies. Today, Ottomans and their soldiers were the only protectors of Islam and made it proud. The relationship between Turks and Arabs was then built around religion. The Ottomans served Islam and were worthy of praise and support. The Arab Muslims, having descended from the land of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, were treated as “brothers in religion,” and were an esteemed nation in the eyes of the Turk.
Arabs lived for centuries under Ottoman rule. Arab nationalism came to life shortly before World War I. When a political reform movement by the name of Young Turks took power, non-Turkish communities, especially Arabs, started to worry about certain deviations from the religious unified notion. If religion concepts were what united Turks and Arabs, conflicts because of nationalism and citizenship would arise if religious unity was gone. The Young Turks embraced the concept of Ottomanism, which would later prove to fail, giving way for Turkish nationalism to prominently overwhelm the empire. Imperialist powers launched a series of initiatives that included forced assimilation, executing Arab nationalists, and prohibiting writing and speaking of the Arabic language, as well as forcing Arab children to study in Turkish schools.
When Arabs started showing signs of rebellion against the Ottoman Empire — prominently marked by Sharif Hussain bin Ali of Mecca opposing Ottoman oppression — the Ottoman Empire sent troops to the region. The Arabs, having no other central government but that of the Ottoman’s, turned to the British for help. Sharif Hussain bin Ali was promised a huge chunk of land for the independence of Arabs but was tricked when the war ended. He was instead banished to Cyprus, and only two lands — Iraq and Jordan — were given to his sons. The Hejaz region was given to Abdul-Aziz bin Saud, an ally to the British.
After World War II, imperial powers like France and the U.K. withdrew from these regions, leaving Arab dictatorships that depended on them. Weak, fallible, and disintegrated. Then began the agitations between Arabs and Turks. The former blamed the Turk for “colonializing the Arabs,” while the latter claimed that “Arabs shot them in the back.” Many Arabs still yearn in nostalgia for the Ottoman Empire. To this day, Ottoman Sultans still come to memory and are idolized by the Arab world. Mainly, Mehmed the Conqueror (محمد الفاتح) and Abdulhamid II (عبد الحميد الثاني). Mehmed was the Emperor who conquered Constantinople, and Abdulhamid II was a late-Ottoman sultan who did not waver into giving away Palestine to Zionists. Today, many Arab Muslims name their children after these sultans, paying gratitude and esteem to their service to Islam. After many clashes of religion, culture, and nationalism, Arabs and Turks maintain a friendly relationship today. The normalization of Islamic roots is still deeply embedded in the essence of the two nations, united by the religion of Islam, not nationalism.
The praise and moral support of Turkey is still a trend among Arabs, as Erdoğan brought back Islamic principles to the Turkish state. After Mustafa Kemal Atatürk took hold of the post-Ottoman state (now Turkey), he erased all religious signs and symbols, as well as anything that had to do with Arabs or the Arabic language. Erdoğan reminds Muslims of the Ottoman era when Arab neighbors are still “brothers by religion” and the main focus is on thwarting aggression by the West against Muslims in general. Criticism of Erdoğan’s Agenda As mentioned, the secular criticism of Erdoğan revolves around him being overtly religious, as their main criteria for an efficiently functional democracy is the separation between religion and politics, as well as the preservation of human rights, primarily free speech. Secular Muslims are not interested in seeing the Turkish state resemble the Ottoman Empire, as the latter is history. Some regular Muslims argue that, while Erdoğan is a great leader, regardless of religion, he still has some shortcomings. And that is fine. It is important for them to have a leader who isn’t — in any way — destructive of his nation. Sure, Erdoğan isn’t a saint, but at least he’s turned Turkey around in every aspect possible. Compared to Egypt’s Al-Sisi, Syria’s Bashar Al-Assad, or Saudi Arabia’s Muhammad bin Salman (or his father), Erdoğan is “one hell of a leader.” For the fanatics, their criticism revolves around him being not enough religious. Their take on Islamic rule is that if you want to identify as an Islamic leader, then you have to say you’re ruling an Islamic state, and act following Islamic law. Erdoğan does not do that with consistency, and can oftentimes deviate from this principle altogether. Conclusion There’s a continuous debate about Erdoğan’s real identity. Not as a Muslim, but as an Islamic leader. Realist Muslims tend to believe that he’s just Muslim by name. Sure, he practices Islam as an individual, but that doesn’t mean he does everything thinking about Islam first. When it’s appropriate, he stands behind Islamic principles. When it isn’t, he doesn’t even mention it. Whether or not you agree with Erdoğan as a Muslim, an atheist, or a “triggered American,” he has proven to be one of the most powerful leaders in the world in many aspects: political, economic, religious, and strategical. Erdoğan has his missteps and slipups, but these fall short against his achievements, whether nationally or internationally. It depends on where the viewpoint comes from. Subscribe to my newsletter here. Thank you for reading!
5 Important Lessons from High School
Why does the school system suck? Finishing high school is a huge step toward an entirely different life. You get to decide lots of things on your own. You get to start a new life; one where you have more liberty to do everything. You're probably starting a new job to save money for college, or starting college right away. You're also moving out to a different city, or even country. Graduating high school marks an important milestone in your life. Throughout the years of high school, you should have learnt a few lessons about life. Albeit not the best teacher, high school is one of the most crucial stages of the process of transformation from teenage to adolescence. Granted, not everyone leaves high school with the same ideals and lessons. Some, mind you, do not gain any knowledge from high school after graduation. The only thing that they gain is a diploma - and we know that's not enough. I am not a scholar of education, nor do I have any evidence-based information about the efficiency of the education system. But speaking from experience, I can now see - after two years since my graduation - the lessons that I have learnt from high school. The ups and downs of adolescent life and the continuous ambiguity of the near future. 1. Don't Stress Over Your Grades Graduating high school with an excelling grade record will get you accepted into whatever university/college you want. It's an important aspect of getting your things together after graduation. If you didn't get the right grades for the subject you're going to major in college, then you'll have to redo exams and make supplements to your grade, one way or another. But here's an interesting fact, two years after graduating: these grades do not matter. At all. Well, that is wrong to say on many levels. The reality is that they do matter, but that depends on what your plan is. If you've majored in Physics and Chemistry in high school (for some unholy reason) and you're planning on majoring in English Literature, then these grades don't matter. In Israeli universities, exact science subjects like physics, chemistry, medical sciences, math, or the similar, need higher grades than their peers of "not-exact" sciences: languages, history, politics, or any subject based on philosophical theories and assumptions. This creates a messy competition between high-scoring students in high school to favor exact sciences over non-exact sciences. The philosophy is that you're wasting your talents and high scores if you're not studying something worth it. You're a lesser person if you study something that requires way less than what you're scoring. "Aim high!" This is why you've probably heard of students who have gone to medical schools or technology institutions just to quit mid-term. They're pressured into accepting the fact that they're phenomenally achieving. However true that is, it does not necessarily mean that the subject for which their grades can get them accepted will be to their liking. Surely, this is not why these subjects require high grades. The baseline requirement is set to determine if you can stand out among other students. If you can't, you're out. Medical schools require high grades because once you're finished, you'll be dealing with actual human lives. You ought to have learnt the basics and the complexities of the subject. High-grade requirements are for excelling people to aim higher. The fact that you score high grades does not mean you should study these subjects! Why is this a problem, even in 2020? Because some countries do not require high grades in Bagrut, or matriculation exams to get accepted into medical schools. This encourages students with low grades to study in medical schools and return to Israel as certified doctors. Anyone who finds themselves below grade requirements in Israeli institutions will certainly try their luck abroad. This does not mean that those who study abroad are not good enough. The majority of the people I know who've gone to study abroad had a different reason as to why: in Israel, not only do you have to pass the matriculation exams (Bagrut), but also the psychometric exam. Combined, these two grades set the bar for a calculated grade of acceptance to institutions. Others choose to study abroad because of language barriers - apparently, learning Serbian, German, or Turkish from scratch is easier than improving their Hebrew. And a minority of others choose studying abroad because of their personal assessment of the quality of national educational institutions. They've got a point, I guess. Now, do you really need to stress about your high school grades? It depends on what subject you're planning to major in afterward. If it's something that does not require high grades (not because they're lower in quality or importance, but because they do not require preliminary knowledge of subjects, e.g. to study medicine, you'll need basic preliminary knowledge in biology, chemistry, and mathematics) then you don't need high grades. This is no excuse for slacking off at school, kiddo. I would say that it is a better option to play safe and score high grades in every subject you can, unless you hate the very core of Math, then I give you approval. If it's not something you need, leave it be. Note, however, that you cannot foresee the future, and whether you'll drop out or quit education altogether is not up to you to decide today. Only time will tell, along with your perseverance. Lesson 1: If you intend on taking exact-science subjects, you almost always need to stress over your grades. If you're going to learn Spanish, History, or Political Sciences, you don't really need 5 Bagrut units in Math. There's more to see in life than struggling to find the square root of some unnamed Latin letter or whatever. 2. Stay Good at That One Subject Some students really shine through in high school. It may be a variety of subjects, and it may be just one. If you're one of those students who doesn't score less than a 100 in a subject (say, Math), then you should maintain that power even after high school. Treat this as if you have a huge amount of investment money. Not only will this help you open new opportunities vis-à-vis your career or educational prowess, but it will also give you perspective on other unfamiliar aspects. If you're good at Mathematics in high school, [I would say that] it's a social and moral obligation to pass on that knowledge, and benefit as many people as you can in Mathematics. You'll be surprised to know how many students are struggling every day with materials for various reasons. You surely remember how frequently you were asked to help your friends and classmates with math problems and poorly taught materials in school. Now, after you've graduated, you can use this tool to benefit others, and perhaps benefit yourself as well. It may sound counterintuitive to charge money for educational help, especially to students who're probably in financial distress. But a lot of students tend to rely on external, private education (educational courses) to help them succeed in school; and they pay somewhere between $45-$60 USD (200 NIS) per month. Accumulated to a whole academic year (10 months), that's roughly $450-$600 (2,000 NIS). As you're not a certified teacher, you can't sensibly charge as much, but if you're good enough, even charging somewhere between $5-$10 per month, which is max. 36 NIS would give you a purpose. It's nothing compared to what they pay to substitute their state-paid teachers. If you're skeptical about charging money from high school students, you can give some of your free time (if you have any) to give back to community: teach students or help them with their exam materials - via frontal or distance teaching - for free! Not only will you help students succeed, but you'll also feel good about yourself. Lesson 2: Use the knowledge of that material you excelled at in high school to help other students, either for trivial amounts of money or for free. Set an example, and give back to the community. At least this way you'll know high school made you a career, or helped you learn teaching basics. *Why am I seeing this ad? 3. Take All Advice with a Grain of Salt I have sat with many teachers throughout my years in high school and discussed a lot about my future. What subject do you like? What do you want to become? Are you starting college right away? They all stated facts and fallacies; come true, some not so much. It did not surprise me that they all gave different advice as to what I should do. I am glad I had the chance to listen to more than just one teacher who didn't want what was best for me. One praised my intellectual level of not conforming to society's regulations of "smart kids". Another groaned loudly in what was clearly abhorrence of the answer. At least three were not even remotely interested, letting out a throaty Nice, good for you. One agreed that I should pursue literary education in English and others were surprised. If you ask your Math teacher whether you should study medicine or history, his answer will depend on how you present yourself in his class. If you're one of the smartest students, and he knows it, he'll tell you to pursue an academic career in an exact-science subject, such as medicine. If you're not the brightest in Math, he'll probably tell you to drop down to 4 Bagrut units instead of 5. The same applies for every subject. Note that the advice you take from your teachers will always be affected by how they see you as a student. If you ask your mother, she'll probably tell you to go for medicine, law, electrical or mechanical engineering, no matter your grade scores. Learn to always take advice with a grain of salt. Do not instinctively throw away the advice you are being offered; at the same time, do not take it as the holy word of God. Assess the points they make, and make your own decision. Why this is important is because many people think teachers know better, and so they take advice that could possibly ruin their dreams, or hold them back from achieving their own success. Lesson 3: Take advice with a grain of salt by assessing points made by your teachers or advisers. It may seem a good idea to follow their advice, but don't make big life decisions based on a few opinions from your teachers. They know you as their student (often the tardy, no-homework, laid-back dude), but you know yourself better. 4. You Should Hate High School If you're a normal person, you hate everything about high school. If you still do so today, years after you've finished, that's something else. But try recalling the days of high school; when you had to wake up at 7, do loads of tedious homework, and have your time schedule predetermined by the school system. If you hated high school when you were in high school, it's a sign that you're a healthy, normal person. A school is a hierarchical environment in which everyone judges everyone else. Students are constantly judged for the quantity and quality of their work by their teachers and school staff. They are also prone to judgment and oftentimes harsh critique by their peers. I haven't met anyone who liked high school. Sure, the routine of getting to meet with your friends and make jokes and pranks was something of surreal fantasy nature, but it's not reason enough to like high school. It is normal to hate high school - or school in general - because it's not a natural setting to be in. My view on school systems in the world is that they're prisons for kids. State governments don't really care about the prosperity and progression of "intelligent minds". Their agendas consist of creating (read: manufacturing) model citizens. Intelligent minds can go to hell as far as creativity and science are concerned. If they are provided with basic education in the same room as everyone else, then that's enough. The current education system is miserable. The decrepit agenda of committing to a worldwide system that does not diverge from the comfort of conformity that has been set since the beginning of human intellect. We don't like change, because it disrupts the proven-to-be-working agendas of governments, who are interested in maintaining the status quo in all aspects of life. If you hated high school, your intellect is sound. Unless an immediate but gradual change occurs in the deep roots of the education system, school will be the core of abhorrence for all students of all generations. Schools limit creativity. Everyone is seated in confined spaces, controlled by bells, and spoon-fed impractical, irrelevant information for more than twelve years. Basically, school is the kid equivalent of a manufacturing factory. In addition, schools value numbers more than minds. To succeed in high school, you have to memorize the information on the night of the exam, dump it out the next day on the exam paper, and then forget all about it. Lesson 4: The school system sucks, and it's the most normal thing to do to hate it. Schools are more interested in manufacturing model citizens than in fostering brilliant children. 5. Research Is Your Life Now Once you finish high school, you're on your own. For twelve or more years, you've been handed information on a silver platter, with everything (I hope) explained to you in simple language. If you don't know already, it's all gone now. You have to do your own research about every topic you're about to engage in, especially college admissions. While high schools do provide preliminary knowledge to graduates, it is still your own duty to "do your homework". You'll have to visit numerous websites, read About pages, and stress over the details and fine print on documents. No one is there to help you. This is but another aspect of how schools have failed us. Not only do they not prepare you for the level of education and amount of work that is needed to succeed in college, but they don't even tell you how to get accepted. You're allowed to slack off in high school; you could most definitely succeed in college afterward. But you can't slack off in college, because it's not remotely the same as high school. The amount of work, research, and self-help is way crucial to your success. Lesson 5: No one will help you, and so it's almost inevitable that you need to develop a skill set of research. You'll have to dig up information and read loads of texts to get your shit together; and that's before you've even been accepted. Final Thoughts: Few people are concerned with changing society and how the penitentiary structure of the schools affect the way society develops (or does not). I have been a big ranter about why the education system "sucks", and how it can be changed. Regardless of my qualifications (or lack thereof) I think I have a point. The current education system has proven to be a failing, rusty system with an ancient agenda that is impractical to say the least. Students who finish high school do not know basic knowledge about finance, taxes, governmental processes, college admissions, jobs, or anything related to the life that they will be experiencing after high school. So what, exactly, is the "model citizen" that is intended to be manufactured and molded? Someone who's intelligent enough not to commit crimes or stand against the failing state-issued curricula? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments. Thanks for reading. For more insights and information, read the following links: A Quora thread about why highly intelligent people hate school. A Medium article on how the school system is messed up. A Medium article on how school trains us to fail in the real world. *Why am I seeing this ad? #School / #College / #Education / #Society