Here’s a syllabus for “Queer Politics in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.” If this is a topic that interests you at all, the readings for each week are a great resource.
This is my dream.
I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve been asked why people in the Middle East believe in so many conspiracies. I’m going to start using this as my reply.
First, Lewis has written a ton of books. Granted, if you read one, you’ve basically read all of his ideas. Second, I like how he says this without the slightest clue how it reveals just how misinformed he is.
You have to require rule of law, women’s rights, you know, enforceable contracts.
It’s nice to know that he puts contracts and women’s rights on the same level.
Social media has been often touted for the role it played in the popular uprisings that have spread across the Arab world since December 2010. Despite the buzz, you may be surprised that only 0.26% of the Egyptian population, 0.1% of the Tunisian population and 0.04% of the Syrian population are active on Twitter.
Of all the countries in North Africa and the Middle East, Twitter is most popular in Kuwait, where 8.6% of the population is active users, defined as those who tweet at least once per month. Facebook’s more popular throughout the region. In its most popular country, the U.A.E., some 36.18% of the population is on Facebook.
Khaled ElAhmad (who goes by the Internet alias Shusmo) created these two infographics, exploring Facebook and Twitter trends in the Arab world, using Visual.ly. His data comes from a Dubai School of Government report on Arab Social Media.
Last Saturday, a B’Tselem video camera captured an incident of settler violence that began with rocks being thrown at Palestinians near the village of Asira al-Qibliya in the outskirts of Nablus, and ended with live shots fired by the settlers and a wounded Palestinian youth.
Anyone who saw the video could easily make out the IDF soldiers standing next to the settlers, doing nothing to stop them. Those watching from the sidelines may have been surprised by the useless stance of the soldiers. But anyone who understands the reality in the Occupied Territories well knows that that this is just another example of the long-entrenched paradigm that constitutes the basis of IDF activity on the ground: We are not here to protect Palestinians. Not when the settlers burn their olive trees or throw rocks at them. And not even when settlers shoot at them.
The most extreme outcome of this paradigm was the massacre at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in 1994. When Baruch Goldstein, a settler from Kiryat Arba, entered the Tomb, there were no cameras to record the incident and no soldiers (or Border Police officers) to stand in opposition. But even if they had been there, it’s reasonable to assume that they wouldn’t have been the ones to stop the firing. The reason for this, as published in the report by the Shamgar Committee charged with investigating the incident, is that the rules of engagement given to Border Police officers serving there at the time forbade them from directing any fire of any kind at a Jewish settler. In testimony given by one of the officers to the Committee, the explicit command was described: “Arms may not be used against any Jewish settler in Hebron, along with any crowd dispersal method, even if said settler is endangering my own life or the life of an Arab near him.” Another commander from a Border Police company in Hebron testified that the rules regarding disturbance of the peace by a Jew were, “to take shelter so as not to be injured, to wait until his weapon jams or the magazine runs out, and to then try to overpower him through other means.” Baruch Goldstein was stopped when his weapon jammed; the result was 29 Palestinians killed and dozens injured.
After the Shamgar Committee investigation, the rules of engagement changed. The command to wait for a weapons jam was replaced with the direction to “instruct the shooter or person endangering life through other means to cease his actions, or to try to overpower him immediately, while using reasonable force.” In the case that the shooter is not deterred by the soldiers’ requests to cease fire, they are required, according to the IDF instructions, to carry out something similar to the “procedure for detaining a suspect”: shots in the air, shots towards the legs, and only then, shots to neutralize the danger.
This is how it is on paper. In reality, the soldier on the ground receives oral commands that preserve the order to do nothing in instances of Israeli fire towards Palestinians, and in instances of less severe violence, “to serve as a buffer.” Soldiers on the ground are well-trained to take action when a Palestinian attacks, but not when he is the victim of settler violence. Most of the testimonies given to Breaking the Silence don’t relate to the commands given in the instance of an Israeli shooting at a Palestinian because the perception is that the IDF is in the Occupied Territories in order to protect the settlers, and this is the basis for all routine IDF activity. You don’t shoot at the ones you were sent to protect.
Perhaps its because I served in Hebron, or perhaps because I’ve been exposed to many soldier testimonies that describe incidents of settler violence towards Palestinians – but I cannot understand the Israeli public’s amazement surrounding the video from Saturday. After nearly 45 years of occupation, even those Israelis who never served in the Territories should already know that this is what life looks like in the “backyard” of our own State. This is the reality created by constant discrimination and the enforcement of two separate law regimes. The soldiers who just stood there should not be the targets of disgust for their unfit behavior. It is us, the civilians at home, who continue to send them there to enforce this discriminatory occupation, who should be looking in the mirror and asking ourselves how we let this reality develop and continue.
The only democracy in the Middle East and the most moral army in the world.
- Al Jazeera’s Roundup of praise and criticism
- Samia Errazzouki, “Dear Mona Eltahawy, You Do Not Represent “Us”
- Mehreen Kasana (Quote from her Tumblr)
- The Frustrated Arab, “Us and Them: On Helpless Women and Orientalist Imagery”
- Foreign Policy, “Debating the War on Women” - Includes responses from Leila Ahmed, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, Hanin Ghaddar, Naheed Mustafa, and Sondos Asem
- Tahrir Spirit, “I don’t really think they hate us”
- Dima Kathib, “Love, Not Hatred, Dear Mona”
- Omid Safi, “The hypocrisy of the “Why They Hate Us” rhetoric of Muslim Native Informants”
- Mona Kareem, “‘Why Do They Hate Us?’ A Blogger’s Response”
- Ayesha Kazmi, “Oh Mona!”
- Tahrir and Beyond, “Mona: Why do you hate us?”
- Tom Dale, Open Democracy, “Hatred and misogyny in the Middle East, a response to Mona el Tahawy”
- The Atlantic, “The Real Roots of Sexism in the Middle East (It’s Not Islam, Race, or ‘Hate’)”
- Global Voices Online, “Do Arab Men Hate Women? Mona Eltahawy Faces Firestorm”
- Jadaliyya, “Let’s Talk About Sex”
- Egypt Initiative for Personal Rights, “Get an Arab Woman to Say it For You”
- AltMuslimah, “Everybody ‘Hates’ Mona”
- Colonial Feminism, “Dear Mona Eltahawy”
- LoonWatch, “Why Do They Hate Us? They Don’t”
If you know of any more articles to contribute to this list please send me a message (You can send links through fanmail)
Where to begin?
Arabs & Israel: For Beginners by Ron David - I believe this is the best book to start with for anyone. It is extremely concise and easy to read.
Arab-Israeli Conflict by David Lesch - Lesch’s book is much more comprehensive at almost 500 pages and unbiased. It is the first book I read on the conflict.
The Fateful Triangle by Noam Chomsky - I would argue that this is the absolute best book on the conflict. Chomsky is the most unbiased author I have ever read on the conflict, and I believe this is the most important book to read if you want to have a solid understanding. But it is not a book for beginners.
Books on the Palestinians
Books on the Israelis
- Walled: Israeli Society at an Impasse by Sylvain Cypel
- Hopes and Prospects by Noam Chomsky
- The Veritas Handbook
- Palestinians in Israel by Ben White
- The Punishment of Gaza by Gideon Levy
- This Time We Went Too Far by Norman Finkelstein
Adalah, Al-Haq, Al-Mubdara, Al-Maqdese for Society Development, Badil, Institute for Palestine Studies, Miftah, Palestine Remembered, Palestinian Center for Human Rights,Palestine Solidarity Project, Ta’Ayush
Democracy Now, Le Monde diplomatique, Ma’an News, AlterNet, RT, TruthDig, Ha’aretz, In These Times, Al-Akhbar, ZNet, Truthout, Al Jazeera, Think Progress, Salon, TomDispatch,The Independent, The Guardian, Mother Jones, The Nation, Financial Times, Antiwar,Common Dreams, Counter Punch, Hagada Hasmalit, Palestine Monitor, Middle East Monitor
Noam Chomsky, Gideon Levy, Uri Avnery, Chris Hedges, Juan Cole, Norman Finkelstein,Edward Said, Howard Zinn, Naomi Klein, Robert Fisk, Tariq Ali, Rashid Khalidi, Amy Goodman, Ilan Pappé, Haneen Zoabi, Adam Keller, Shimon Tzabar, Jonh Pilger, Amira Hass, Johnathon Cook
This has reminded me that I need to work on my reading list for the Arab-Israeli conflict. Also, this is list needs to add Electronic Intifada.
Khader Adnan, a political prisoner who endured the longest hunger strike in Palestinian history, has been freed on this Palestinian Prisoners’ Day. He spoke to thousands of supporters in his hometown of Jenin, March 17, 2012.