Three years ago today saw the end of Palestinian writer Saïd Aburish. Parkinson's disease, he was 77. Aburish chose America for education and early life experience that included Princeton, the US Army and Madison Avenue. Aburish went to ground after writing this book. Of all the obituaries, Marian Houk's of The Independent is by far the most knowing, and his keenest publisher had kind things to say. The Guardian said Aburish "did much to illuminate the relationship between the Middle East and the west," and "Aburish’s writing was notably blunt" said the New York Times. At Twitter, and Google. R.I.P.
How can we get a less hyperbolic assessment of the state of the world? Certainly not from daily journalism. News is about things that happen, not things that don’t happen. We never see a reporter saying to the camera, “Here we are, live from a country where a war has not broken out”—or a city that has not been bombed, or a school that has not been shot up. As long as violence has not vanished from the world, there will always be enough incidents to fill the evening news. And since the human mind estimates probability by the ease with which it can recall examples, newsreaders will always perceive that they live in dangerous times.
Former Virginia Tech professor Steven Salaita's blocked appointment to teach at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has ignited a debate over academic freedom. [more inside]
Mahmoud Darwish once wrote, of Gaza, “We are unfair to her when we search for her poems.” [more inside]
"In peace or war, the ultimate refuge—the sanctuary of all that is humane—lies distilled within the warmth of the kitchen." Journalist Paul Salopek pauses in the middle of his 21,000-mile Out of Eden Walk from Africa to South America -- Ethiopia to Tierra del Fuego -- to reflect on the food shared with him during his time in Israel and Palestine. "Watching the women of Nablus move briskly, efficiently, purposefully about their tasks, chatting, often joking (about men, politics, life), I am reminded of all the meals that admitted me briefly into the conflicted lives of Israelis and Palestinians." [more inside]
"Israel and its Palestinian adversaries in Gaza sharply escalated the latest deadly resurgence of hostilities on Tuesday, with the Israeli military conducting an intense aerial bombardment that targeted at least 50 Gazan sites, including homes, and militants in the enclave responding with a long-range missile volley aimed at Israeli population centers, including Tel Aviv." [more inside]
From his time in Cairo, Lawrence was aware of the extravagant promises the British government had made to Hussein in order to raise the Arab Revolt: full independence for virtually the entire Arab world..............His first act of sedition — and by most any standards, a treasonous one — was to inform Faisal of the existence of Sykes-Picot.....The True Story of Lawrence of Arabia . Previously and Previously
Forty maps that explain the Middle East. Includes sections on Middle East history, the region today, Israel-Palestine, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and oil, Iraq and Libya, and "points of light." [more inside]
The argument against Scarlett Johansson doing Super Bowl ads for SodaStream [pdf] This report provides an extensive analysis of SodaStream (Soda Club), a manufacturer of home carbonating devices whose main factory is in the industrial park of Mishor Edomim in the West Bank, territory occupied by Israel. Using SodaStream as a case study for corporate activity in the illegal settlements, the report explores the concept of industrial production in settlements....Examining the performance of this company is important in order to understand how its success is based, at least in part, on the structural advantages that production in Israeli settlements enjoys. Settlement production benefits from low rent, special tax incentives, lax enforcement of environmental and labor protection laws, as well as additional governmental support. Summary: Scarlett Johansson’s Super Bowl Ad Becomes An International Controversy. More, from Baltimore Jewish Life: SodaStream Boss Admits West Bank Plant Is 'a Pain.' [more inside]
Former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon died at a hospital near Tel Aviv last night, aged 85, after spending eight years in a coma. He was one of Israel's more popular leaders as a fierce defender of the Jewish nation, but was loathed by Palestinians and other regional powers who dubbed him the "the Butcher of Beirut". Israel is in mourning. Twitter is reacting. NPR reflects on his life as being one of a warrior's journey to peace.
In 1971, the newly-created US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hired a bunch of freelance photographers to collectively document environmental issues around the country. They were given free rein to shoot whatever they wanted, and the project, named Documerica, lasted through 1977. After 40 years, the EPA is now encouraging photographers to take current versions of the original Documerica photos and are showcasing them on flickr at State of the Environment. There are location challenges, and a set has been created with some of the submissions, making side-by-side comparisons. [more inside]
Meet the Iranian Parkour Girls, the Gaza Parkour Team (while bombs fall) and the first Iraqi Parkour team.
Since the end of March, the Wall Street Journal's new Middle East Real Time blog has written about Turkey's "unstoppable" export boom in soap operas, Saudi Arabia's "life after jihad" rehab program, the persistence of obviously fraudulent bomb detectors across Iraq, YouTube branding discussions among Syrian rebel factions, a rising media star Sunni cleric in Lebanon, a post-revolutionary Cairo arts festival, and attempts to overcome conservative objections and change the Saudi Thursday-Friday weekend to match the rest of the business world. Previous non-paywalled WSJ Real Time blogs include Korea, China, Canada, India, Brussels, Emerging Europe, Japan.
"Is This Where the Third Intifada Will Start?"
"One village in the West Bank tests the limits of unarmed resistance."
"One village in the West Bank tests the limits of unarmed resistance."
I feel creatively emboldened to personally say something on the subjects that I am documenting. In terms of how it is produced, intellectually I am more excited than I have been in years. I am envisioning so many more possibilities for the work ... I feel for first time empowered on my own terms. We are calling our own shots and have created somewhat of our own institution.An interview with the six-woman Middle Eastern documentary photography collective Rawiya, whose name means "female narrator" in Arabic. [more inside]
The Political Science Department at Brooklyn College is co-sponsoring a panel discussion about the BDS Movement (boycott, divestment, sanctions) against Israel this Thursday Feburary 7th. The event features Omar Barghouti, BDS co-founder and Judith Butler, prominent philosopher. The college has come under widespread attack for its hosting of the event, with a coalition of New York City councillors threatening to defund the school. [more inside]
'Homeland,' Obama’s Show. The award winning TV show does little to alleviate the myths and misconceptions about Arabs and Muslims, writes Joseph Massad, a scholar at Columbia University. "The racist representation of Arabs is so exponential, even for American television [..] that one does not know where to begin." [more inside]
From the BBC blog of documentary filmmaker Adam Curtis: "Save Your Kisses For Me: How the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and the Israeli Right became co-dependents in an abusive relationship." Includes images / film clips from the BBC news archive. [more inside]
A soccer stadium in Palestine was destroyed recently and a number of European based footballers signed a letter condemning the act. Palestine has historically been a difficult place to be a footballer, up to and including being imprisoned, although Mahmous Sarsak has since been freed. Despite all of this, it looks like at least the Palestinian women’s game is on the up and up.
On the 15th November 1988, the Palestine National Council under Yasser Arafat made a Declaration of Independence. The declaration was supported by more than 100 countries, and recognised a two state solution. It led to a UN vote, which was supported by 104 states and voted against by two. Twenty four years later, on the 29th November, and 65 years to the day after the UN adopted the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas is making a renewed bid for Palestinian statehood. [more inside]
"The Ideology of Hatred": An interview with Niza Yanay - "Once we understand how hatred operates as an apparatus of power relations, and particularly how the discourse of hatred is motivated and mobilised in national conflicts, serious questions about misrecognition, veiled desires and symptomatic expressions arise. These questions have, to a large extent, been left unaddressed in studies of hatred between groups in conflict." [more inside]
In May of 2010, Michael D. Higgins (now President of Ireland) had an exchange on an Irish radio station with Tea Party supporter Michael Graham, about the state of politics in the United States. [more inside]
The Checkpoint. An essay which looks inside the conflicted mind of an Israeli soldier, stationed at a West Bank checkpoint. By Oded Na'aman, currently a student in the Philosophy PhD program at Harvard University, who served in the Israeli Defense Forces from November 2000 to October 2003. Mr. Na'aman is also a member of Breaking the Silence, a website that gathers and publishes anonymous testimonials from IDF soldiers -- combat veterans -- about their experiences and the realities of life in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.
Larry Cohler-Esses from the Jewish Daily Forward interviews Abu Marzook, Hamas' deputy political director. The interview captures Hamas in a state of transition and includes a segment (with audio) of Cohler-Esses explaining to the confused Hamas leader that the 'The Protocols of the Elders of Zion' is a Russian hoax.
"I get up every morning at 5, go for a half-hour walk in the desert, come home and have a cup of coffee, sit down at the desk and ask myself what I would say if I were him, and what I would do if I were her. I think curiosity is actually a moral virtue. I think a person who is curious is slightly more moral than one who is not curious, because sometimes he enters into the skin of another. I think a curious person is even a better lover than one who is not curious. Even my political approach to the Palestinian question, for example, sprang from curiosity. I am not a Middle East expert or a historian or a strategist. I simply asked myself, at a very young age, what it would be like if I were one of them. So, that’s what I do − get up in the morning and ask myself: What if?" - Israeli writer Amos Oz reflects on his life, on Israel, on writing, and discusses his newest work [more inside]
"Lacoste’s prejudice and censorship puts a major dent in the idea of corporate involvement in the arts."
Larissa Sansour was among the eight artists shortlisted for the 2011 prize. In December 2011, Lacoste demanded that her nomination be revoked. Lacoste stated their refusal to support Sansour’s work, labelling it ‘too pro-Palestinian’. [more inside]
The Atlantic is in the middle of a four-part special report on the Israel / Palestinian peace process, called "Is Peace Possible?" which features multimedia presentations on and analyses of what they believe are the four core issues of the conflict: Borders, Security, Refugees, and Jerusalem. (The latter two will be released on Monday, November 7 and 14th, respectively) The report was put together in collaboration with the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace. [more inside]
Despite political pressure, UNESCO has approved full membership for Palestine. Opposition remains and a major funder may withdraw.
Tarzan and Arab are budding filmmakers from the Gaza strip. The identical twins (who studied fine art and photography) have never seen in a movie in a theater, or been in a gallery. In fact, until last month, they had never left Gaza. Inviting them to the Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas proved to be a "colourful journey", which is also the title of their short movie (trailer) about Palestinian infighting. Short interview with the brothers (includes tips about filming in Gaza). Longer interview (about inspiration and hopes, includes the full short). Via AintItCool, where additional info can be found about their current stay in the US.
Photographer Mario Tama positioned himself over Netanyahu's shoulder at the UN General Assembly, and photographed hand-written edits he made to his speech. Here's what he saw. (via The Browser)
Tomorrow, Friday the 23rd of September 2011, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas will go before the UN and set out his request for formal recognition of the state of Palestine. There are many problems with this, and not just for the Palestinians... [more inside]
Violence and nonviolence are, after all, two different forms of theater. They both depend and thrive on the response of an audience.
"If we, as a global audience, focus solely on violence and militarism, we reinforce the notion that they are the most effective form of action. On the other hand, if we pay more attention to nonviolent or unarmed efforts, we strengthen the legitimacy and influence of those choosing to use these means." [more inside]
Israeli actor and political activist Juliano Mer-Khamis, born to a Jewish mother and an Arab Christian father, was killed on Monday outside the theater which he founded in a refugee camp in the West Bank city of Jenin.
Rap News 7: #Revolution - What if it's the first world that needs to be liberated? (SLYT - The subtitles help.)
“I had reached the point of no return. You finally get fed up … I finally wanted to speak the truth.”
Last year, the unofficial Dean of the White House Press Corps, Helen Thomas, spoke about the State of Israel on camera. (Previously) Her replies: "Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine," and that the Jews "can go home" to "Poland, Germany and America and everywhere else," sparked media outrage, prompted her to issue an apology and retire. After months of being out of the the public spotlight, she has now given her first long-form interview, which will appear in the April issue of Playboy Magazine. In it, she explains what she meant, tells us how she would like to be remembered and expands upon her positions regarding Israel, Jewish political influence, Presidents Bush and Obama, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Dissenters. New Yorker profile by editor David Remnick: "Ha'aretz prides itself on being the conscience of Israel. Does it have a future?" (Via)
Al Jazeera has obtained a large volume of official documents concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The confidential files, to be released in the coming days, were shared with The Guardian.
Avatar Activism, The Harry Potter Alliance, and Pop Culture Fandom as the gateway to Social Activism
Back in February 2010, Palestinian activists dressed up as Na'vi and Avatars to bring more attention to the weekly protests against the West Bank barrier. Video of the costumed protest was edited to blend with Avatar footage, to emphasize the protesters' message. In another pop-culture world, The Harry Potter Alliance have run campaigns that tie themes from the stories to real-world issues, in an effort to translate the energy of fans into energy to get active in civil engagement, including a a fundraiser in January that raise raised $34,000 to support Haiti relief efforts. These efforts have been labeled "Avatar Activism," as discussed in a a recent Le Monde diplomatique article and a related piece on NPR. [more inside]
WE ALL GOOD PEOPLE pt. 1 (ISRAEL/PALESTINE) (vimeo)
WE ALL GOOD PEOPLE pt. 2 (ISRAEL/PALESTINE) (vimeo)
More videos by Grant Slater.
WE ALL GOOD PEOPLE pt. 2 (ISRAEL/PALESTINE) (vimeo)
More videos by Grant Slater.
"I did not humiliate those detainees. I didn't hit them, I didn't act toward them unpleasantly. It's completely different than the American soldier some are trying to compare me to," she told Israel Radio. The IDF has condemned her behavior. Meanwhile, this is not the first time Facebook has caused an issue for the IDF.
"We pray to God that this will not happen to the Jewish people or to any people anymore." -- a group of American imams visits Dauchau and Auschwitz.
Helen Thomas, going rogue. White House corespondent since the Eisenhower administration, Helen Thomas, has "retired" at the age of 89 after saying something unacceptable to a Rabbi at a White House Jewish heritage event on May 27th, 2010. Thomas "told a rabbi at a White House event last week that Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine" and go back to Germany and Poland." She has also been rebuked by the White House, calling her remarks "offensive and reprehensible..." [more inside]
Among American Jews today, there are a great many Zionists, especially in the Orthodox world, people deeply devoted to the State of Israel. And there are a great many liberals, especially in the secular Jewish world, people deeply devoted to human rights for all people, Palestinians included. But the two groups are increasingly distinct. Particularly in the younger generations, fewer and fewer American Jewish liberals are Zionists; fewer and fewer American Jewish Zionists are liberal. One reason is that the leading institutions of American Jewry have refused to foster—indeed, have actively opposed—a Zionism that challenges Israel’s behavior in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and toward its own Arab citizens.The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment
Suicide bombers from Lebanon, the West Bank, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Chechnya have two things in common: they are Muslim and they live under occupation. University of Chicago Professor Dr. Robert A. Pape, who has assembled a comprehensive database of every (or nearly every) suicide bombing since 1980, has been the most prominent proponent of the view that it is occupation, not religion, that is the single most important motivating factor for suicide bombers... more than 95% of suicide bombers come from countries under occupation... Pape and his colleagues at the Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism, ask What Makes Chechen Women So Dangerous? -Via The Washington Note