Posted by: Just_in | November 15, 2009

Facebook Measuring Peace

information graphic


Facebook has joined Stanford University in promoting peace through innovation in technology. Peace Dot is the driver of Facebook’s initiative: it’s a community of organizations who strive for peace. They urge organizations to reproduce their domain name with “peace” in front of it… like “”

On Facebook’s site, they have organized friend requests between conflicting nations into a graph. It’s a nice way of displaying the neglected side of conflict- the people that put aside their nation’s political grudges to forge connections with like-minded people from the “opposing” culture/nation/religion. The graph show’s in particular, that 6,378 Israeli-Palestinian connections have been made.

Posted by: Just_in | November 15, 2009

“18” Photography Exhibit in Other Israel Film Festival

Other Israel Film Festival


On Friday I attended opening night of the photography exhibit entitled “18” as part of The Other Israel Film Festival.The exhibition is being held at the JCC (Jewish Community Center) in the Upper West Side of New York. This minor detail may not seem so important, however, the location of the exhibition is almost as important as the subjects in Natan Dvir’s portraits. The Other Israel Film Festival features the lives of Arabs living in Israel, a not-so-common perspective in the grand scope of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Natan Dvir, an Israeli, spent 3-4 months gaining the confidence of Arabs living in Israel in order to photograph them free of suspicion and in their natural element. The exhibit is called 18 because the subjects- all portraits or group portraits are 18 years old, a pivotal age for all individuals, but especially for Israelis, who are expected to serve their three years of mandatory service in the Israeli Army. So at a time when their counterparts are joining the military, Israeli Arabs embark on a different path. The photographs feature young men and women in uniforms of the sports they love, in their family’s living rooms with relatives, and in the street with their gang surrounding them. Below each photograph is a card displaying the name of the subject and their life-long aspirations. Some want to be physicians, professional athletes, philanthropists, engineers… the same occupations as children found anywhere in the world.

The exhibit- and the festival as a whole, got me thinking whether I should be attempting to re-brand the conflict or if I should focus on Israel- the dominant political entity in the conflict, to set  an example and pave the way for peace. Through thought, however, the concept itself still segregates the region and creates divisions of people- exactly the opposite of my intentions. I must remain objective and in the center in order to bring people from each side together.

Posted by: Just_in | November 11, 2009

Arabic Symbology- Ramadan

This information is taken from They are typical symbols during the time of Ramadan- the holiest Muslum holiday. These symbols are mostly iconic- representing a likeness that conveys the idea of the thing it represents. As obvious as some of these may be to Muslums, evoking these images can stir nostalgic emotions, typically of positive experiences.

Moon and stars

The muslim calendar is based on lunar phases. And the month of Ramadan covers a full cycle. Therefore the most widely used symbol is the night sky.

Let me take the opportunity here to ask everyone who works on such a layout not to put stars in the empty (dark) area of the moon. See bad example above. If there were stars in the empty area, it would mean those stars are between the earth and the moon. So, just keep that area starless please.



A cannon is fired just when the sun goes down and is used to signal the very first second when people are allowed to eat after the whole day of fasting. It’s kind of a social activity to gather around the cannon with sandwiches and drinks in hand waiting for the cannon to go off.

El Misaharaty


The Ramadan drummer. El Misaharaty is the name given to the person who walks and beats a drum in residential areas to wake people up to eat their sohor (a meal eaten before the beginning of the fast) before morning prayers. It’s not practiced anymore in modern cities. Alarm clocks replaced the drummer.



The Ramadan lantern. This lamp is basically a colorful storm lamp and it comes in dozens of different forms and shapes. Children in small groups wearing colorful embroidered clothes carry and swing these lamps while singing a traditional song. They are rewarded with nuts and candies. Much like during Christmas in the US.



The holy book. The main focus this month is prayers, so the Koran is an important part of the symbology. Rarely used for commercial materials, because of its stong religious connotations, but one can see it in greeting cards and other more personal communication.



Arabic calligraphy is very much associated with religion, therefore it’s also part of Ramadan and used quite often. Verses from the Koran are visualized in endless number of different forms and styles. Creating a unique calligraphy requires great skill, therefore only the more sophisticated design pieces feature this form of art. Read more about it here.



During this month muslims go to the mosque even more regularly for prayers. The big famous mosques are not usually shown in this context. Usually it’s a siluette of a lonely building in setting sun. Interesting to note that around mosques there is usually a lot of charity food being distributed to the less fortunate as part of the Ramadan traditions.



The fruit of the date palm is an important symbol because many break their fast by eating a piece of date and drinking a sweet juice. One should not break the fast with any heavy food. It takes time for the digestive system to kick start. It is told, that you can survive on a glass of milk and 10 pieces of dates a day for any amount of time.



Ramadan is about fasting during the day but it’s also about feasting during the night. Wonderful dinners (or so called Iftars) served in tents. Many times such social dinners are accompanied with water pipes and soft music. Theoretically one should eat the bare minimum, but it’s rarely the case nowadays.

Posted by: Just_in | November 11, 2009

Other Israel Film Festival

Picture 3

This looks like a great program for exposure of Arabs living in Israel. Promising not to focus on “the conflict” the festival offers a very important and overlooked perspective in the region.

From their website:

Other Israel Film Festival uses film to foster social awareness and cultural understanding. The Festival presents dramatic and documentary features and shorts, as well as engaging panels about history, culture, and identity of Arab citizens of Israel, who make up twenty percent of Israel’s population. Our mission is to promote awareness and appreciation of the diversity of the state of Israel, provide a dynamic and inclusive forum for exploration of and dialogue about the Arab experience in Israel, and encourage cinematic expression and creativity dealing with these themes. Our programming is guided by our mission to showcase quality cinema that brings to the big screen the human stories and daily lives of the Arab Citizens of Israel who are rarely seen outside the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Posted by: Just_in | November 11, 2009

Semitic Languages- Arabic & Hebrew

Modern Standard Arabic belongs to the Semitic language family. Semitic languages have a recorded history going back thousands of years, one of the most extensive continuous archives of documents belonging to any human language group. While the origins of the Semitic language family are currently in dispute among scholars, there is agreement that they flourished in the Mediterranean Basin area, especially in the Tigris-Euphrates river basin and in the coastal areas of the Levant.
The Semitic language family is a descendant of proto-Semitic, an ancient language that was exclusively spoken and has no written record. This relationship places Arabic firmly in the Afro-Asiatic group of world languages. Specifically, Arabic is part of the Semitic subgroup of Afro-Asiatic languages. Going further into the relationship between Arabic and the other Semitic languages, Modern Arabic is considered to be part of the Arab-Canaanite sub-branch the central group of the Western Semitic languages. Thus, to review, while Arabic is not the oldest of the Semitic languages, its roots are clearly founded in a Semitic predecessor.

Aside from Arabic, the Semitic language family includes Hebrew, Aramaic, Maltese, Amharic, Tigrinya, Tigre, Gurage, Geez, Syrica, Akkadian, Phonoecian, Punic, Ugaritic, Nabatean, Amorite and Moabite. While a majority of these are now considered “dead” languages, either entirely obsolete or used only in religious practice, Arabic has flourished. The reason for this is inextricably linked with the rise of Islam and, more specifically, Islam’s holy book, the Qur’an.

Hebrew Script- 11th C.

Hebrew Script- 11th C.

Page from a 12th century Qur'an in Arabic

Page from a 12th century Qur'an in Arabic

14th century BC diplomatic letter in Akkadian, found in Amarna

14th century BC diplomatic letter in Akkadian, found in Amarna.

Posted by: Just_in | November 11, 2009

Oded Ezer Typography

Oded Ezer, a typographic artist, logo and type designer, is also a lecturer and a typographic experimentalist. His studio is located in Israel. Michael Beirut has called Ezer “A master of Hebrew lettering.”

Typembrya by Oded Ezer from on Vimeo.

experimental type

experimental type


more experimental type- a la Sagmeister

more experimental type- a la Sagmeister


font design

font design



Frankrühlya, a Hebrew typeface based on traditional Hebrew writing

Frankrühlya, a Hebrew typeface based on traditional Hebrew writing



Posted by: Just_in | November 11, 2009

A Different Kind of Semiotics


This is a very relevant article I stumbled on at Adbusters‘ website. It talks about the use of loaded, controversial terms that automatically separate people’s beliefs. The likening of the Palestinian’s plight to Black Africans in Apartheid-era South Africa has caused quite a stir.


Posted by: Just_in | November 10, 2009

Hebrew Typography in Motion


The type used in this animation tends to be on the blockier side- which to me, evokes the old Russian type during the revolution, which spurred the emotion of the modern constructivists, and other sect movements.

Posted by: Just_in | November 10, 2009

Arabic Typography

These typeface and production images come from Arabic type designer and typographer Pascal Zoghbi’s site called 29ArabicLetters

Baseet typeface

Baseet typeface


Baseet is a hybrid Neo-Naskh / Modern Kufi geometric typeface. It is a mixture of straight vertical, horizontal and diagonal pen stokes incorporated in-between curved corners and edges.

The font work perfectly with mono-spaced Roman fonts that share the same characteristics likeSimple, T-Star MonoRound, Module etc…

FF Seria Arabic typeface

Sada type family

Characteristics of Sada type family

Sada consists of two different kinds of sharpness applied in the structure of the letters. When the stroke flows into a closed counter (a loop), only the sharp corner is applied on the inner part of the curve, and when the stoke flows into an open counter, the sharpness is applied both on the inner and the outer part of the curve.

Since Sada has to work with the serif FFSeria. A Naskh based structure was adopted with a high contrast structure based on the broad nib pen. Yet, the weight in FFSeria is applied on the horizontal strokes and not on the diagonals as in a traditional broad nib based structure. As a result, the weight in Sada had to be moved from the diagonals to the verticals and make the structure of the glyphs more straightened up.
The solution was to make all the toothed glyphs and the right side of looped glyphs straightened up and the weight applied on the vertical (which is more Kufik), while the stroke in the left side of the glyph was kept flowing more calligraphically and the weight is applied on the diagonal (which is more Naskh). This combination gave Sada a unique feel.

Unlike most Arabic fonts, the counter shapes in ‘Sada’ are well opened and will not clot up at small point sizes. Additionally, the open counters enable ‘Sada’ to acquire more weights (from Thin to Black) and make it more legible and readable.

Usually in Arabic font the ascenders and descenders are taller than the loop and tooth heights. That makes the Arabic script feel like it is a line with some upper and lower strokes coming out of it. In ‘Sada’, there is an even balance between the loop height, tooth height, ascender and descender. This gives the font a more balanced look.

The color of ‘Sada’ in a set text is even. The grey of the text is the same as the grey of the Roman type. This is because the glyphs are proportional.

Sada is a marriage between a stiff straight baseline and a very calligraphic curvy one. The glyphs connect in a slight curve but at the same time define a very clear baseline. The glyphs connect in a slight curve but at the same time define a very clear baseline. The glyphs sit clearly on the baseline without having a robust straight line.

Sada supports Arabic, Farsi and Urdu Languages and offers the choice between Arabic hanging figures, Indic figures, Farsi figures and Urdu Figures. Usually, most of the Arabic typefaces only have the Indic figures while a few other new Arabic typefaces have lining Arabic figures. Since there are no capitals in the Arabic script, lining uppercase Arabic figures look bigger than the Arabic text. My solution was to borrow the hanging figures of FFSeria and modify them to work better with the Arabic script.

GillSans Arabic typeface

GillSans Arabic


Gill Arabic started as a project while working with GillSans in the Letter Press workshop at The Royal Academy of Arts (KABK). The project is still under development. Gill Arabic will be the Arabic type companion for GillSans. Once finalized the type will have an Arabic name and not GillSans Arabic. The type is based on the Arabic Naskh Style with a modern look that echoes the proportions and feel of GillSans.

Posted by: Just_in | October 28, 2009

Surfing for Peace in Gaza

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