Social Mobilization and Resistance Monthly Media Roundup:
[This is a monthly roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on Resistance, Subversion, and Social Mobilization in the Arab world, and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the editors of this blog, The Asfari Institute's, nor AUB's. It is prepared by Nada Ghandour, and published in partnership with Jadaliyya.]
June 2018 News & Commentaries
The Storytellers of Syria: Displaced Women Keep Tradition and History Alive with Folktales, by Catherine Cartier Cartier interviews Syrian women in Jordan about maintaining the tradition of oral storytelling, drawing upon lived experiences combined with a long history of literature and folklore. Aisha talks about sharing stories with children at a preschool group, while Hiba suggests that her storytelling is to purposefully communicate a moral value or inspire others. While there are initiatives such as Timeless Tales, a bilingual anthology of folk-tales, to preserve this tradition, stories are vulnerable to disappearance in the context of forced displacement – which makes storytelling gatherings even more necessary and precious.
Saudis Arrest Another Women’s Right Activist, by Al Jazeera Saudi Arabia has arrested Hatoon Al-Fassi, a Saudi women’s rights activist and writer, as part of its crackdown on activists in the kingdom. “Considered a leading figure in women's rights in the region, and the kingdom, in particular, al-Fassi has long been fighting for the rights of Saudi women, including their right to participate in municipal elections.”
Champions on Crutches: Palestinians Form First Amputee Football Team in Gaza, by Maha Hussaini In 2018, the Palestine Amputee Football Association was established. It is an initiative that highlights Palestinians’ “desire to live rather than get killed.” “Ten of the thirteen members on the team suffered amputations due to injuries sustained from Israel’s three military operations targeting the Gaza Strip between 2008-14. Others were victims of shelling incidents that have occurred sporadically since the beginning of the blockade Israel imposed on the strip in 2007.” The “Champions Team” aim to compete in international championships by challenging their current situations and breaking common stereotypes about the disabled.
“Resistance Is Female:” Gaza Women Protest for Their Right of Return, by Maha Hussaini On 3rd July, hundreds of Palestinian women and girls held the “Palestinian Women for the Return and Breaking the Siege” protest near the eastern fence separating Gaza from Israel. In the article, many Palestinian women of all ages describe the role of women in the resistance and in raising their children to defend their rights.
Gaza Women Fight for Fairer, Faster Divorces, by Ahmad Melhem Through the experiences of Rima and Tamara, Melhem describes the difficulty for women living in Gaza to obtain a divorce and the bureaucracy and legal procedures set up to pressure them into waiving their rights. Women’s Health Center launched a campaign to address the slow and patriarchal proceedings of the courts, as part of an overall program to combat increasing gender-based violence against girls and displaced women in Gaza.
Palestinian Activists Slam Draft Law Prohibiting Filming of Israeli Forces, by Yumna Patel On 17 June, the Israeli Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved a controversial bill calling for a “maximum five-year prison term for anyone photographing, recording or disturbing Israeli army activity on social media with ‘the aim of hurting the soldiers’ spirit,’ and up to ten years for anyone convicted of ‘seeking to harm national security.’” But for Palestinians the camera “reflects only the truth, and is a peaceful weapon” that they use against Israel’s violence.
Khan Al-Ahmar: Israel’s Top Court Freezes Demolition of Palestinian Village, by Middle East Eye On 5 July, “Israel’s Supreme Court ordered a pause on the demolition of the Palestinian Bedouin town of Khan al-Ahmar in the occupied West Bank […]. Israel has faced mounting international condemnation as its security forces continued preparations to demolish the town.” However, it is believed that the order means just a postponement of the demolition.
“A Watershed Moment in Palestinian History:” Interview with Jamal Juma’, by Ida Audeh Author Ida Audeh interviews Palestinian activist Jamal Juma' on the resistance in recent months in Gaza. As coordinator of the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Juma' has noticed a significant change in US/Israeli policy in Palestine since Trump's presidency, calling it a "watershed moment in Palestinian history." Juma' also discusses Trump's "deal of the century," popular mobilization is both Gaza and the West Bank, and challenges faced by Palestinian leadership.
The Siege and Resistance in Gaza: Interview with Toufic Haddad, by Omar Hassan In this interview, Toufic Haddad analyzes the political and economic context that led to the recent protests in Gaza. According to Haddad, “the international order has been deaf to the cries of Gaza, so these protests de facto represent a prison riot that is attempting to put Gaza back on the table, after Western governments and Israel, together with the Arab order, thought they could bury it in a debilitating siege, and through isolation.”
Unhappiness and Mohamed Salah’s Egypt, by Amro Ali Mohamed Saleh is described to be more than just a hero of football, but also as a figure who has a political voice without talking politics. Saleh's popularity came when he was offered a luxury villa, which he politely declined and suggested that a donation to his village Nagrig in Gharbia would make him happier. For this move and the many charitable stories that emerged, Saleh garnered respect and international recognition for Egypt through his individual moral code.
Art Cross-Dressers Lead a Musical Revival, by Mariam Qamar A band called "Cabaret Al-Shaikhat" (Folk Divas) is leading a musical revival of “aita” music, traditional Bedouin folk music, in Morocco. The group held its first performance in 2016 and since then, their popularity has grown. The male band members seek to preserve and re-popularize “aita,” all the while dressed in women's traditional clothing and makeup.
On the Swift Un-Banning of Karma, and the Popular Notion of the “Dissident Artist,” by Hakim Abdel Naim In June 2018, filmmaker and public figure Khaled Youssef’s latest and first post-2011 film, Karma, had its screening permit withdrawn and then revoked quickly. This incident is not exceptional from the history of arts and culture censorship in Egypt, by institutions such as the Censorship Board. Yet Youssef's ability to toe the line between being a “dissident artist” and “standing by his country” suggests that this incident is indeed exceptional through the ways that he has been able to engage with authorities.
New Books & Reviews Jordan and the Arab Uprisings: Regime Survival and Politics Beyond the State, by Curtis R. Ryan In this book, professor of political science, Curtis Ryan asks why and how Jordan remained relatively stable amidst significant changes and challenges brought about by the Arab Spring. Curtis looks at the political environment in Jordan during mass mobilizations in the region and at the various tactics utilized by the monarchy in order to survive.
Freedom Intercepted, by Hamza Abu Eltarabesh A boat, named the Freedom Ship, set sail on May 29 from Gaza as part of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition. The voyage would have been the first of its kind, as all previous attempts to break the 12-year blockade involved ships sailing from the outside world toward Gaza. The Freedom Ship was carrying 17 passengers when it began its voyage: patients, students and people who were wounded in the Great March of Return protests, as well as fishermen. However, Israeli naval boats surrounded the Freedom Ship and seized it near the 14th nautical mile.
Gaza Freedom Flotilla Boat Boarded and Searched by German Coast Guard, by Freedom Flotilla Coalition On May 23, the Freedom Flotilla vessel Al Awda (The Return) was boarded by the German Coast Guard, at the orders of the German Ministry of Interior. They collected all the passports on board, wrote down everyone’s personal data, searched the vessel thoroughly, asked for detailed information about ports of call along the way to Gaza, and inquired about the whereabouts of the other Swedish sailing boats part of the flotilla. There are four vessels taking part in this year Freedom Flotilla in an effort to break the siege on Gaza and for the “Right to a Just Future for Palestine:” Al Awda, Hurriya (Freedom), Falestine (Palestine), and Mairead (for Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire).
What the Gaza Protests Portend, by Tareq Baconi Tareq Baconi provides a very comprehensive historical account of what led to the Great March of Return. He writes that “Such widespread civic engagement and grassroots mobilization has rarely been seen since 1987, with the eruption of the First Intifada. […] Movements like the Great March of Return have the potential to transcend the fracturing of Palestinian political aspirations so deftly imposed by the state, by uniting the Palestinian people around a single message of rights.” Palestinians Deserve Better Than Fraudulent Narratives, by Brendan Browne Brendan Browne criticizes point by point certain arguments put forward in the Israeli and US media narratives, as well as by those holding “equivalency views” on Palestinian resistance. He also suggests that simply boycotting Israeli goods might not be enough. He writes that “It is a personal decision as to how you wish to support Palestinian non-violent resistance, but the framework is there and it isn’t for internationals – those who can dip in and out at will – to choose the parameters.” In America’s News Headlines, Palestinians Die Mysterious Deaths, by Moustafa Bayoumi In this article, Moustafa Bayoumi criticizes the language used by American media “to rob the oppressed of their very struggle.” He writes “It’s almost as if bullets just hang in the air, waiting for Palestinians to walk deliberately into them.”
Razan Al-Najjar Was a Threat to Israel, and They Knew it, by Malia Bouattia On June 1st, the twenty one-year old nurse Razan Al-Najjar was killed by Israeli snipers. She was a “threat” for Israel because “she allowed the thousands of men and women, who were shot, tear gassed, or exhausted to heal, recuperate and carry on. Furthermore, Najjar had become a recognisable figure in the demonstrations.” This made her a potential “face of the movement,” and “this is what made her dangerous.”
A Brief History of a Teacher’s Strike, by Mezna Qato and Mai Abu Moghli “In February and March 2016, nearly 35,000 Palestinian teachers initiated a series of strike actions across the West Bank. […] Though short-lived, the strike had wide resonance as teachers utilized their waning social capital in ways they had not done since the second intifada, and encouraged members of other unions to organize industrial actions, particularly after the March 9, 2016 ratification of Social Security Law 6. This was the largest teachers’ strike in Palestinian history, and yet it was not organized by their union, the General Union of Palestinian Teachers (GUPT). It was organized despite it.” In this article Mezna Qato and Mai Abu Moghli interviewed one of the teachers that participated in the strike and provide an comprehensive overview of the teachers’ struggle.
LGBTQ Filmmakers Refuse to Let Israel Use Them to Pinkwash its Crimes, by Ali Abunimah So far, eleven artists have pulled out of the Tel Aviv International LGBT Film Festival, “part of a growing wave of international support for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) in the wake of Israel’s massacres of Palestinians during Great March of Return rallies in Gaza.”
Israel Scores Own Goal as Argentina March Cancelled in Victory for Palestinians, by Ben Lynfield Argentina cancelled a friendly football match against Israel, following pressure by Palestinians and the international BDS movement. The cancellation was perceived by many as one of the most important successes of the BDS movement. “Palestinian groups welcomed the news of the cancellation, saying Israel, through the friendly, had been attempting to “sports-wash” abuses against Palestinians, including recent killings by snipers of unarmed Palestinians during protests at the Gaza border.”
Saudi’s Women Rights Activists & the Farce of Reform, by Mariam Sleiman “On May 18, the Saudi Press Agency publicly announced that the government had detained seven members, both male and female, of a group that was ‘organizing’ against the ‘security and stability of the Kingdom, its social safety and national unity.’ It quickly became clear that all those arrested have a rich history of defending women’s rights in Saudi Arabia. […] The arrests are a threatening reminder to the leaders of the Saudi women’s rights movement, indeed to all activists in general, that they should not demand anything further. They are a signal to Saudi activists that allowing women to drive does not mean the state is willing to partner with its critics and activists to reform the country and that it, and it alone, remains in complete control.”
Saudi Authorities Release Three Women’s Rights Activists, by Al Jazeera Authorities in Saudi Arabia have released three prominent women's rights activists, who are part of a group of eleven women's rights campaigners rallying for more liberties, including the abolition of the male guardianship system that, among other things, prevents women from travelling without the permission of a male relative. Aisha al-Mana, Hessa al-Sheikh, and Madeha al-Ajroush were released less than a week after their initial detention, in what many critics view as a crackdown on dissent.
Moroccans Rattle Leaders with Mass Boycott Over High Prices, by Amira El-Masaiti A boycott movement in Morocco targeting big companies, such as Afriquia gas and oil distribution company and Centrale Danone, has turned into a “protest against the concentration of wealth and power in a country that had been spared the tumult of the Arab Spring eight years ago.”
وقفة نسائية ليلية في تونس...مساندة للشعب الفلسطيني وحقه بالعودة بسمة بركات قامت مجموعة من النساء بوقفة تضامنية مع الشعب الفلسطيني في العاصمة تونس. و قالت رئيسة الجمعية التونسية للنساء الديمقراطيات التي نظمت هذه الوقفة إن "تونس مع الفلسطينيين" و أن رسالتهن للشعب الفلسطيني "لا تراجع عن حق العودة" و "المقاومة مستمرة“.”
Art & Culture “Hopeless Nation:” Meet Mosul’s First Rap Collective, by Laurene Daycard and Sebastian Castelier Iraqi artists Zayn Adam, Boika, MC Reko and Yabangi formed Mosul’s first hip-hop collective. Hip-hop is “a style of music that is really suitable for direct criticism” says Yabangi. “Back from forced exile, the rappers are determined to speak out as long as they can.”
Dabka Dancing, Singing and Poetry: How Gazans Protest, by Rami Almeghari Near the Israeli border, the organizers of the Great March of Return have organized a series of festivities including dabka dances, singing and poetry performances. Such activities have been organized in five centres of protest in the Gaza Strip and demonstrate Palestinians’ steadfastness in defending their right of return.
The “Anti-Imperialism” of Idiots, by Leila Al Shami Leila Al Shami makes a critique of what she calls the “Western ‘anti-war’ left” and some of its mobilizations against Western interventions that followed chemical attacks in Syria over the past seven years. She argues that these mobilizations are not about ending the war and often turn a blind eye to the actions of Al Assad regime and “any form of imperialism that is non-Western in origin.”
Who Is Really to Blame for the Failure of the Syrian Revolution? by Basheer Nafi Basheer Nafi explores the various actors and their responsibility in the failure of the Syrian revolution. Apart from the responsibility of other Arab states (especially the ones of the “counterrevolution camp”), Nafi argues that “Western support for the Arab revolutions and for the process of democratic transformation was slow and reluctant. It soon turned into indifference, or a return to the policy of ‘the devil we know.’”
“Treachery Is Not a Perspective:” Boycotting Israel in Lebanon, by Sahar Mandour Sahar Mandour discusses the Lebanese boycott movement today, especially after Lebanese fil director ZIad Doueiri was accused of normalization with Israel and Lebanese playwright Ziad Itany was declared innocent of treason. She argues that “the slogan ‘treachery isn’t a perspective’ overshadowed any nuanced discussion on normalization.”
The Trial of Dareen Tatour and the Madness of Being Israel, by Kim Jenzel and Yoav Haifawi The authors argue that the case against Dareen Tatour is built on distortion. The write “The most obvious flaw in the case is the lack of any evidence that Tatour provoked an act of violence or that her work contains ‘a direct call for violence.’ Instead of presenting proof, Hardak has instead resorted to vilifying Tatour and systematically demonizing three key words she uses in her work: qawim, intifada, and shahid.”
Why I March in Gaza, by Fadi Abu Shammalah The executive director of the General Union of Cultural Centers in Gaza, Fadi Abu Shammalah, eloquently describes the reasons why he participated in the Great Return March in Gaza. He writes that “Israel assumed that once the generation who experienced the Nakba died, the youth would relinquish our dream of return. […] The march is proving that my generation has no intention of abandoning our people’s dreams. The Great Return March has kindled my optimism, but I am also realistic. Alone, the march will not end the siege and the occupation, address the huge power imbalance that exists between Israel and the Palestinians or right the historical wrongs. The work continues until everyone in the region can share equal rights.”
The Gaza March Is A Wake-Up Call to the World, by Tareq Baconi Tareq Baconi argues that the “greatest driver” of the Great March of Return is the tragedy the Gaza Strip is going through today. “Rather than address the political issues that underpin Gaza’s misery, the US and Israel recently embarked on a humanitarian mission to alleviate suffering in Gaza while paradoxically sustaining the blockade. […] With this march, Palestinians in Gaza are reminding the world that they cannot be “managed”. They and their fellow Palestinian refugees continue to hold rights under international law. UN resolution 194 affirmed the Palestinian right of return.”
Running as Resistance in Occupied Palestine, by Joshua Stacher Through a description of the Palestine Marathon, Joshua Stacher highlights the political meaning of this special sport event and growth of the “Right to Movement” running groups throughout Palestine.
For Israel, There Is Little Political Cost in Killing Palestinians, by Ishaan Tharoor With dozens of protestors killed by Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) during mass demonstrations in Gaza, there have been calls for an inquiry into their deaths. Yet the Israeli government continues to take a firm stance that the IDF acts to protect the security of its citizens even as videos have emerged showing snipers targeting unarmed protestors. As Tharoor writes, the current geo-political environment is what allows the Israeli government to be "comfortable in its defiance."
Birzeit: How Palestinian Students Became the Next Generation of Resistance, by Mustafa Abu Sneineh Birzeit University, as one of Palestine's most prominent seats of learning, has become a focus for resistance for many living in the West Bank. As an educational institution, Birzeit comes from a history of political resistance and great difficulty in establishment. Today, the student body serves as a vital barometer of wider Palestinian politics, but is also seen as a threat to the Israeli authorities.
Two Years Ago Nationalism Sparked Major Protests in Egypt. Could It Happen Again? By Jannis Grimm In the Egyptian context, nationalism is often understood as a tool wielded by the state to co-opt and redirect street pressure for reform into support for a strong state. By using populist nationalist discourse, some claim that Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi seemed to have struck a “winning formula” for popular support and legitimacy. However, Jannis Grimm’s research on “opposition protests and alliance building in Egypt demonstrates that reliance on his nationalist discourse is a double-edged sword. As the April 2016 ‘island protests’ show, nationalism may not only support authoritarian domination but also inspire powerful resistance to such projects.”
Rights for the Disabled in Tunisia: Inching Towards Inclusion, by Wolfgang Kuhnle Yassine Rihani, a Tunisian human rights activist, lost his eyesight in 2006 and has been working as a physiotherapist ever since. He works to promote the rights of people with disabilities. Tunisia has had a new constitution – considered to be one of the most progressive in the Arab world – since 27 January 2014. Yassine Rihani is particularly pleased about Article 48 of the new constitution, as he fought for it for many years in his capacity as a human rights activist. For the first time in Tunisia's history, it now says: "The state protects people with disabilities from all forms of discrimination. Every disabled citizen is entitled to services that ensure his or her full integration into society. The state shall take all necessary measures to achieve this". A milestone, as Rihani calls it, which was only made possible by the constant pressure put on parliament by activists.
The Struggle of Refugee Women Across the Sea, by Marta Bellingreri Bellingreri describes the gendered dimension of migration through the efforts of Watch the Med Alarm Phone, an international collective that primarily supports and monitors rescue operations at sea. Alarm Phone works to highlight voices and stories of women who have struggled across sea and borders, inspired by their disobedient movements, strengths and resistance specifically against forms of sexual violence and exploitation.
Detained Photojournalist Shawkan to Receive UNESCO’s 2018 Press Freedom Prize, by Mada Masr Detained photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid (Shawkan) was chosen as the recipient of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) 2018 press freedom prize on Monday, according to a UNESCO statement. Maria Ressa, the jury’s president, said in the statement, “The choice of Mahmoud Abu Zeid pays tribute to his courage, resistance and commitment to freedom of expression.”
نقابيونبمصريستنكرونالهجمةعلىالصحافة الجزيرة أعضاءنقابةالصحفيينالمصريينيحتجونعلىمعاملةالحكومةللصحفيين. فيظلالسيسي،تمإسكاتالصحفوتماعتقالالصحفيينوالمحررين. لكنالاتحادغيرمتحدفيهذاالاحتجاجحيثقام 5 أعضاءفقطمنأصل 12 بالتوقيععلىبيانيدعوإلىحريةالصحافةفيمصر.
Art & Culture Behind the Lens as a Woman: Yemen’s Female Photographers Strive to Overcome Barriers, by Khalid al-Karimi and Weam Abdulmalik Several Yemeni women photographers are profiled for their work and passion in picturing life on the streets of Yemen. They speak of their different experiences and challenges in risking personal safety and encountering harassment when taking photos, especially due to Yemen being a male-dominated society and a war-ravaged country.
Tent City Nights: Gaza’s Dance of Resistance Unites Palestinians, by Amjad Ayman Alongside protest efforts, the Great Return March is embedded with Palestinian culture, featuring nightly Dabke dances, singing of folklore songs, and shared meals over the campfire with families and neighbours. At the camp, the older generation of Palestinians educate the younger generation on their right of return and their history, as well as understanding the peaceful resistance through which they can fight the Israeli occupation.
A General’s Daughter: Meet the Filmmaker Who Defied Lebanese Censors, by Joseph Fahim Rana Eid is a Lebanese filmmaker whose latest documentary Panoptic was banned in Lebanon, denying her the closure she sought over her late father, who was an army General and functions as the anchor of her film. Panoptic features footage on Beirut’s army-controlled detention centres, exploring the shady foundation of Lebanon’s post-war military institution, the "slave society" the country has been transformed into, and the grand state of hypnosis engulfing the generations of today.
New Books & Reviews Subversives and Mavericks in the Muslim Mediterranean: A Subaltern History, by Odile Moreau and Stuart Schaar This book brings together the life stories of 11 individuals from the Muslim Mediterranean, such as Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, who helped organized the resistance against ruling regimes in the late eighteenth to early nineteenth centuries. These men and women held prominent and important roles in the movement for change against a variety of forces including European colonialism and patriarchy. This book also highlights the connections subversives were able to make with those outside their immediate localities.
Faith and Resistance: The Politics of Love and War in Lebanon, by Sarah Marusek Sarah Marusek 's new book looks at Islamic Activism in Lebanon. While this work is based on ethnographic research on religion and resistance in the daily lives of Shi'i activists in Lebanon, Marusek also traces the intellectual lineage of ideas and practices of the Islamic resistance, thereby drawing transnational connections with other social movements rooted in religion, such as in South Africa and Latin America.
Cracks in the Wall: Beyond Apartheid in Palestine/Israel, by Ben White This book looks at the current challenges facing the Israeli apartheid state from both within its traditional support system and from the growing offensive outside these networks. Ben White looks at an array of factors shaking the foundation of the Israeli state including increasingly critical Jewish opinion, the American political climate post Trump's election, and the growing strength of the BDS movement.
Israeli Army Kills Seventeen Palestinians in Gaza Protests, by Al Jazeera On Friday 30 March, seventeen Palestinians were killed and 1,400 others were wounded after Israeli forces fired live ammunition at protesters and used tear gas to push them back from a heavily fortified fence. The demonstration commemorated Land Day, which took place on 30 March 1976, when six unarmed Palestinian citizens of Israel were killed by Israeli forces during protests against the Israeli government's decision to expropriate massive tracts of Palestinian-owned land. Organisers of Friday's march, dubbed "the Great Return March", said the main message of the demonstration was to call for the right of return for Palestinian refugees.
Israel: Gaza Killings Unlawful, Calculated. Officials Green-Light Shooting of Unarmed Demonstrators, by Human Rights Watch Human Rights Watch released a report stating that “senior Israeli officials who unlawfully called for use of live ammunition against Palestinian demonstrations who posed no imminent threat to life bear responsibility for the killings of fourteen demonstrators in Gaza and the injuring of hundreds on 30 March 2018.” Following these killings, H.R.W. calls the International Criminal Court prosecutor to open “a formal investigation into serious international crimes in Palestine.”
In the Occupation, Slapping a Soldier Is Worse than Killing a Palestinian, by Jonathan Ofir Jonathan Ofir looks at two recent court cases in the Israeli military court system, the first regarding the request for an open trial for young activist Ahed Tamimi and the second regarding the prison sentence of Elor Azarya an IDF soldier who shot and killed a Palestinian in 2016. The court denied Tamimi’s request for an open trial and once again, shortened Azarya’s prison sentence to just 9 months. Ofir compares the two cases and looks at the different moral implications in each one.
Where Streets Have No Name: Israel Leaves Palestinians in Postal “Dark Age,” Jonathan Cook In the Palestinian town of Umm al-Fahm, the houses have no numbers and its three-hundred and one streets have no names. While the municipality put forth an official submission for street names five years ago, Israel’s Interior Ministry is refusing to follow through with any changes precisely because of the suggested street names. The list include streets named after Palestinian icons who are deemed "enemies" of the state of Israel. Jonathan Cook draws attention to how the struggle over street signs is part of the resistance against the process of linguistic cleansing and erasure of Palestinian history.
Palestine Marathon Puts Spotlight on Right of Movement, by Anne Paq Thousands have attended the sixth edition of the Palestine Marathon, with people participating from all over the West Bank and Jerusalem, as well as abroad. The forty-two kilometres race requires participants to complete two loops of the same route to avoid Israeli military checkpoints or settlements. The marathon is a way to promote tourism in Palestine, but is also symbolizes solidarity and raises awareness about the Israeli occupation and the territorial fragmentation of the West Bank.
How Palestinian Women Led Successful Non-Violent Resistance, by Mersiha Gadzo According to a study of 323 major political conflicts from 1900-2006, non-violent movements are less likely to cause physical harm and typically lead to more peaceful and democratic societies. Two Palestinian women, Naila Ayyash and Iltizam Morrar describe how they led successful non-violent protests against the Israeli occupation during the First and Second Intifadas by empowering other Palestinian women to participate in civilian resistance.
Seeds of Resistance: The Woman Fighting Occupation with Agriculture, by Joshua Leifer In this interview, Vivien Sansour talks about her project, the Palestine Heirloom Seed Library, which is set up to preserve Palestinian agricultural heritage. She sees her project as part of resisting the occupation’s impact on Palestinian agricultural practices, and the global movement to preserve and enable local varieties of farming and biodiversity. “I speak about the occupation within a global context because it does not exist in isolation from global trends,” Vivien Sansour says. “Farmers who can produce their own food and make their own seeds represent a threat to any hegemonic power that wants to control a population. If we are autonomous, we really have a lot more space to revel, to create our own systems, to be more subversive,” she adds.
Inspirational, Courageous and Never Losing Hope…The Story of Maimouna al-Aammar from Eastern Ghouta – Damascus, by Liberated T This is a profile on Syrian activist and social worker, Maimouna al-Aammar. It is written by the members of the advocacy group Liberated T (تمتحررة) which aims to change gender stereotypes by highlighting the work and influential contribution of Syrian women. Once such woman is al-Aammar, who has spent years helping children all over Syria. She is currently working in the Child Protection Network offices in Eastern Ghouta and Daraa.
“We Are Here to Resist:” Tunisia’s LGBT Community Demand Change, by Alessandra Bajec Tunisian activists have launched a series of bold cultural projects to push public debate on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) issues. The campaigning work for the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the country has been ongoing since the start of Tunisia's Jasmine Revolution, and has now materialised in the Mawjoudin Queer Film Festival and Radio Shams. While the these initiatives still face opposition by the Tunisian government, religious figures and conservative political groups, they have been raising awareness and acceptance of the LGBTQI community in Tunisia.
Protests Over Morocco’s “Death Mines” Rage on Despite Intimidation, by Farid El Mohammadi The people of Jerada have been left jobless since the Morocco Coal Mine, formerly the economic lifeblood of the city, closed some twenty years ago. Their demands include an economic alternative to the illegal mines, lower water and electricity bills, and the prosecution of the “coal barons” who they say exploit their misery. Their demonstrations make up a part of the social movements from Al Hoceima in the Rif to Zagora since the deaths of two miners trapped in the shaft of an abandoned coal mine last December.
Why Bahraini Rights Activists Need International Support, by Tod Hodenfield In the context a sustained campaign of state repression and the sentencing of activist Nabeel Rajab to five years in prison, this article encourages international support for Bahraini freedom and democracy rights activists in order to place greater diplomatic pressure on the monarchy. International solidarity has previously made a difference, when a brutal crackdown on demonstrations in 2011 led to an inquiry by the Bahrain Independent Commission.
Young Egyptians Start Campaign to Battle Sexual Abuse, by Amira Sayed Ahmed Egyptian students at the American University in Cairo have turned their graduation thesis project into a campaign to fight against the sexual abuse of children, which is still a topic that is considered taboo in Egypt. Their campaign "Lahza,” Arabic for “moment", aims to offer support for the children who have been abused, raise children's awareness on what constitutes abuse, and to train parents and teachers on how to detect this abuse early and how to help abused children.
The “Enforced Disappearance” of Egypt’s Secular Youth, by Al-Monitor This article looks at a number of enforced disappearance cases involving secular activists in Egypt. Apart from supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian National Security Agency targets journalists and human rights activists. After being abducted, secular activists are sometimes being kept in secret places between court hearings, or even tortured and executed.
نقاشات حول المقاطعة أعد محررو مدى مصر مجموعة من المقالات تبحث في مسألة العلاقات العربية الإسرائيلية. تبحث هذه المقالات في وجهات النظر المختلفة فيما يتعلق بـ BDS التي تسعى إلى سحب الاستثمارات من إسرائيل ، ومن جهة أخرى ، المحاولات الرسمية من الدول العربية "لتطبيع" العلاقة مع إسرائيل.
عدد قياسي من النساء بالانتخابات اللبنانية يشاركن عدد قياسي من المرشحات في الانتخابات البرلمانية المقبلة في لبنان. هذه أول انتخابات برلمانية منذ تسع سنوات. تأجلت الانتخابات في السنوات السابقة بسبب عدم الاستقرار الإقليمي ولكن الآن مع قوانين الانتخابات الجديدة يشارك عدد قياسي من المرشحين ، بما في ذلك الصحفيات والناشطات.
آلاف المغاربة يتحدون حظر التظاهر في مدينة جرادة المغربية تم تجديد الاحتجاجات في مدينة جرادة ، المغرب. بدأت الاحتجاجات في ديسمبر من العام الماضي بعد وفاة شابين يعملان في بئر غير مشروعة لاستخراج الفحم. مع عدم وجود حل للنضالات الاقتصادية في المدينة مثل ارتفاع معدلات البطالة ، خرج السكان إلى الشوارع في احتجاجات سلمية. اعتبرت الحكومة الاحتجاجات غيرقانونية و تتدخلت قوات الأمن مما أدى إلى اعتقال 14 متظاهرًا. مسيرة نسوية بتونس تطالب بالمساواة في الميراث طالبن النساء التونسيات بمساواه في قوانين الميراث في مسيرة أمام البرلمان. قد فاتح الرئيس هذه القضية في العام الماضي ، وفي الوقت الذي تم فيه إلغاء بعض قوانين الزواج التي تحظر على النساء المسلمات الزواج من أجانب غير مسلمون ، ما زالت النشطات يناضلن من أجل العمل فيما يتعلق بالمساواة في الميراث.
“خمسة عشرعاماً على النفس الأخير لراشيل كوري: "كن إنساناً مرت 15 سنة منذ وفاة الناشطة الأمريكية راشيل كوري. كانت كوري عضوًا في حركة التضامن الدولية وأمضت سنوات في الدفاع عن القضية الفلسطينية . تتحدث هذه المقالة عن حياتها وموتها وتأثيرها الدائم في فلسطين وأيضا في الخارج.
Art & Culture
47Soul’s Balfron Promise: A Critical Look at the Politics of Movement, by Peter Holslin 47Soul is made up of four Palestinian musicians, who lived in London’s iconic Balfron Tower for over a year since 2015, as part of an artist-residency program. While they are aware of their role in the gentrification process, they produced their album Balfron Promise, which combines dabke rhythms, whirling synth riffs and thoughtful lyrics, sung in both Arabic and English. The members of 47Soul also discuss the difficulties they have encountered in performing across the world, due to tour and concerts thwarted by visa requirements and travel restrictions.
Palestinian Film Festival Seeks to Challenge Israel’s Cultural Erasure, by Rami Younis The third annual Haifa Independent Film Festival will show Palestinian films alongside movies from across the Arab world. This year, the organizers voted to not include a film by Jerusalem Director Muayad Alayan, who had cast two Israeli actors, Ishai Golan and Sivane Kretchner, in the movie. This decision was made according to the violation of one of the BDS movement's principles, and in order to adhere to a clear Palestinian identity for the festival.
Art Meets Activism in Ai Weiwei Show in Qatar, by Sara Khairat Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei is showing in the Middle East for the first time, with an exhibition titled 'Laundromat' on the global refugee crisis at the Fire Station art gallery in Qatar's capital, Doha. The director of the gallery, Khalifa al-Obaidli, hopes that exhibitions such as these will inspire young artists to make art that focuses on social and political issues.
Amazigh Awakening: Libya’s Largest Minority Wants Recognition, by Jamie Prentis The Amazigh, or Berbers, Libya's largest minority group, experienced harsh treatment under Moammar Gadhafi's regime. Gadhafi's so-called cultural revolution in 1973 criminalized Amazigh traditions, prohibited the use of their native tongue, Tamazight, and declared the Amazigh to be Arabs despite their being indigenous to the land. Until today Amazighs’ demand for equality and recognition remain unfulfilled. Amazigh officials are currently threatening to boycott parliamentary elections and a referendum on the new constitution later this year if their rights and culture are not recognized.
858: Archiving As a Tool of Resistance, by Mada Masr This interview is with the Mosireen collective, whose members collected 858 hours of footage in the center of the Tahrir sit-in during the 2011 revolution. Questions of authorship, curation, audience, reanimation, and dissemination arose in discussing how the archive can represent the revolution and narratives of resistance within it. Documentation and archival practices here, are a subversive act in itself because of Egypt's political context.
Meet the Tunisian Drag Queen Defying the Odds, by Chouaib Elhajjaji On the frontline of the LGBTQIA movement in Tunisia, Khoukha, a trans non-binary drag queen is revolutionizing and leading the fight for equal rights. In this interview, Khoukha tells her story and discusses the struggle to change LGBT perceptions in Tunisia.
Tunisia’s Next Revolution, by Ines Mahmoud Mahmoud describes new formations of workers rights activists organising in a tradition of a resistance that has only strengthened since the Tunisian revolution, against dramatic neoliberal austerity measures implemented by the government. These movements share the transparent and horizontal decision making structures of leftist youth movements, and occur across the energy, agricultural, education, health care, welfare and housing sectors.
Protests Across Bahrain on 7th Anniversary of Uprising, by AFP Dozens of Shiite protesters took to the streets of Bahrain on February 14 to mark the seventh anniversary of an Arab Spring-inspired uprising, witnesses said, reporting clashes between demonstrators and police. Protesters, including many women, chanted anti-regime slogans and paid tribute to the "victims of repression" languishing in the Gulf state's jails, the witnesses added.
Violence Against Women at Sudan’s Universities Has Been Tolerated For Far Too Long, by Hala Al-Karib By focusing on the case of Al-Ahfad University – a private women’s university – Hala Al-Karib writes on violence against women and sexual harassment in Sudanese Universities. She also criticizes international organizations for focusing mainly on female genital mutilation and ignoring other important issues Sudanese women face, such as violence.
One Woman Tackles Two of Gaza’s Toughest Challenges, by Karama Fadel Majd al-Mashharawi, a twenty-four year old recent graduate in civil engineering, is tackling two of Gaza Strip's most pressing challenges: patriarchy and electricity shortage. After researching solar options in use in Africa and India, where electricity blackouts are also common, she ended up with the SunBox solution: a small solar energy collection kit. Before this, she was the one who “figured out how to turn ash and rubble – of which Gaza has a lot – into a material she calls “Green Cake” that can replace cement.”
Gaza: Facebook Is “Complicit” with Israel, by Al Jazeera Dozens of Palestinian journalists have staged a demonstration outside the UN office in Gaza City to protest Facebook's practice of blocking Palestinian Facebook accounts. Demonstrators held banners saying "Facebook is complicit in [Israel's] crimes" and "Facebook favours the [Israeli] occupation." Palestinians journalists and activists have created their own social media watch group, called Sada Social. Sada Social was launched in September 2017 by three Palestinian journalists, with the aim of documenting "violations against Palestinian content" on social networks such as Facebook and YouTube, and to liaise with their executives to restore some of the pages and accounts that have been shut down.
Palestinians Determined to Reopen West Bank Mushroom Farm, by Tessa Fox Palestine's first mushroom farm, Amoro, proves that “agriculture plays an important role in resistance to the Israeli occupation,” in that generating local produce allows for the choice to buy Palestinian products over Israeli products. The enterprise has faced various bureaucratic and financial difficulties from Israeli importers such as arbitrary delivery delays for spores or compost, but are working on solutions that allow them to self-manage import/export processes.
Jerusalem’s Holy Sepulchre Church Reopens After Protest, by France24 One of the holiest sites in Christianity was shut down for three days in protest at new Israeli laws enforcing tax on church property. The tax plan has been temporarily suspended. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said a professional team, including representatives from the Jerusalem municipality as well as government ministries, was being established to negotiate with church officials to "formulate a solution." The closure seemed to be the longest since at least 1990.
Jordanians Protest Price Hikes But in Surprisingly Small Numbers, by Osama Al Sharif Sharif attributes the small numbers at recent protests against the Jordanian government's sales tax increase on essential goods and the lifting of bread subsidies to a lack of political will to fight corruption, when there are no political reformers in the government at present. He suggests that there is a high correlation between worsening economic conditions and the rise in crime and social violence.
Neoliberalism and Iran’s Protest Movement, by Amin Bozorgian Amin Bozorgian argues that the recent protests in Iran are a result of neoliberal policies. Iranian Women Must Remain United to Advance Rights, by Leila Alikarami “A new form of protest in Iran against mandatory veiling has received much attention in the press and social media in recent weeks. The bold waving of veils on sticks by women who have no apparent affiliation with any movement has not only provoked questions among politicians and even forced some to react, but has also pushed women activists to clarify their position on this issue. Not all activists, and especially those who have a long history of struggle in advancing women's rights, have welcomed the public protests.”
“Girls of Revolution Street” Appear in Many Other Cities, by Radio Farda A viral video clip of a woman who removed her head scarf and began waving it in the air in Tehran last December, known as the “Girl of Revolution Street,” has inspired several other protests in Mashhad, Esfahan and Shiraz. More recent hijab protests have also been filmed and shared on social media, with varying legal consequences and online responses to the women involved.
Turkey’s Graffiti Artists: Businessmen by Day, Rebels at Night, by Nazlan Ertan If the high point of the graffiti and street art was the Arab Spring for artists in the Middle East, for Turkish graffitists that moment came with the 2013 Gezi Park events, the largest wave of protests in recent Turkish history, where hundreds of thousands took to the streets to oppose the demolition of a park in Istanbul. Despite the police brutality, tear gas and water cannons, the demonstrators found creative ways to protest for months, including with scribbled slogans and stenciled images.
Exhibition Pays Tribute to Prolific Lebanese Cartoonist, by Florence Massena Pierre Sadek, Lebanon’s pioneering satirist, acquired indisputable fame over fifty three years of working for Lebanese newspapers and television. Sadek, armed with a sharp eye and an even sharper pen, used his caricatures to reflect his political analyses until his death in 2013. “Picturing History,” an exhibition at the Sursock Museum in Beirut created in partnership with the Pierre Sadek Foundation, displays 720 of his drawings.
Events & Conferences
Contested Identities and Conflicting Alliances in the Arab World, 28 April 2018, Graduate Conference, University of Cambridge, UK. (Call for Papers Deadline: 26 February 2018)
Oman Jobs Protest Spreads to Other Cities as Arrests Reported, by Joe Gill Over the last three weeks, hundreds of Omanis have been protesting high unemployment among the country’s youth. The protests have spread from Oman’s capital to provincial cities Salalah and Sur. The protests, which are rare in the heavily policed Gulf state, were followed by a number of arrests. The government has issued a statement reaffirming plans to increase jobs for nationals over the next six months.
Women’s Organizations in Northern Syria Have Come a Long Way, by Kachya Othman Women’s organizations in northern Syria have campaigned for womens' rights, specifically on violence against women, challenging all forms of gendered discrimination, as well as empowering women socially and encouraging them to learn new skills. Although these groups have come long way in raising women’s awareness about their rights, social constraints as represented by a patriarchal society remain.
Women’s Campaigns Flourish Beyond Iran Protests, by Stefania D’Ignoti Through the perspectives of various academics and activists, this article serves to correct the perception that women's empowerment and protest in Iran is only about standing up against compulsory hijab. It is emphasised that women's concerns are the same as men's – on rising prices, corruption, and lack of transparency. Nevertheless, the veil is still considered a “crucial driver of Iranian women's resistance” and social campaigns.
A “Blue” Generation and Protests in Iran, by Aghil Daghagheleh and Zakia Salime Popular frustrations over lack of economic trickle down have been building up in Iran spurring the recent protests across the country. Yet, as the authors of this article argue, economic imbalances are not the only driving force behind the protests. Another largely ignored aspect is vital to understanding the situation, namely “the shifting sensibilities of a new generation of Iranians.” Young middle-class Iranians, known as the “blue generation” are increasingly alienated from the ideology and emotional attachments of post-revolutionary Iran. This generation has appropriated different tropes of nationalism and has used social media outlets particularly the messaging service Telegram, to both avoid and undermine dominant ideology. Yet the “blue generation” lacks coherency and organization and therefore could fall victim to political manipulation.
Tunisia Is Back on a Knife Edge – And Here Is Why, by Pamela Abbott and Andrea Teti Abbott and Teti, also authors of The Arab Uprisings in Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia (Palgrave Macmillan 2018), argue that “Tunisia, like the other countries in the region, is unstable because it has failed to address the very issues that fuelled the revolution of 2011. […] roots of the current protests are not merely economic but also political; borne of repeated political failure. Ignoring citizens’ concerns and embracing the quick and easy path of repression will only further destabilise this country – be it through revolution, radicalisation or the return of dictatorship.”
Young Tunisians Know 2011 Changed Nothing: the Revolution Goes On, by Ghassen Ben Khelifa and Hamza Hamouchene Initiated by the youth movement Fesh Nestannew, violent protests against recent austerity measures (that will lead to higher prices for basic foods, fuel and energy) have flared up on the seventh anniversary of the toppling of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. For the past seven years, young people across the country have organised and kept up the revolutionary fervour to maintain Tunisian sovereignty against foreign interest and free market ideology.
How the Muslim Brotherhood’s Women Activists Stepped Up in Egypt, by Anwar Mhajne In recent times, women activists of the Muslim Brotherhood have focused on mobilising political and financial support for the imprisoned male members, running media campaigns during national parliamentary elections, building on women's access to people via mosques and welfare organisations, and campaigning against human rights abuses of Sisi’s regime against women. While their increasing public visibility is met with violent consequences via state targeting, it has also made it impossible for the male leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood to ignore women's demands for a bigger role in the organisation and its structure.
From Revolution to Powerlifting, by Lina Attalah Every anniversary of Egypt’s revolution, Mada Masr publishes some stories on individuals that took part in this moment of history, as a way to reflect, and look into “how losses and disappearances from that moment in our past continue to shape their lives today.” This is the story of Sarah Carr, a personal trainer, journalist, and blogger.
How Ahed Tamimi Became an Icon to Palestinians, by Ahmad Melhem While sixteen-year-old Ahed Tamimi became an internet icon after a video showing her slapping an Israeli soldier went viral in December, she was already an icon in her Palestinian community. The author interviewed relatives of Ahed, who talk about her and how she grew to become part of the popular resistance, as well as her dreams of becoming a professional soccer player and ambitions to study law at Birzeit University.
Hundreds Protest in Nabi Saleh to Demand Freedom for Tamimi Women, by Haggai Matar Led by strong female leadership, around three hundred Palestinians, Israelis, and internationals marched in the West Bank village on Nabi Saleh to demand the freedom of Ahed and Nariman Tamimi, as well as other detained members of the popular resistance committees. The demonstration hosted speeches, but was eventually dispersed by the Israeli army.
الحالمون بالعدالة: صور للعمال في انتصاراتهم وانكساراتهمفاطمة رمضان تكتب الناشطة في الحركة العمالية في مصر فاطمة رمضان عن قيادة الحركة العمالية ومحاولات العمال قبل و بعد ثورة يناير ٢٠١١ لاستعادة الشركات العامة من أيدي مستثمري القطاع الخاص. العمال و الاتحادات يستخدمون وسائل متنوعة في استرداد حقوقهم في العمل. تكتب رمضان عن عدد من قضايا العمال في مصر مثل العمال في شركة النيل لحلج الأقطان في محافظة المنيا وعمال طنطا للكتان كما تتحدث رمضان عن الناشطة في دمنهور عيشة أبوسامدا المعروفة بلقب "أم العمال".
ضد زيارة سعد الدين إبراهيم لجامعة تل أبيبأساتذة بالجامعة الأمريكية بالقاهرة في هذه الرسالة من عدد من الأساتذة في الجامعة الأمريكية بالقاهرة يستنكرون وينتقدون زيارة الأستاذ سعد الدين إبراهيم لجامعة تل أبيب في اسرائيل سابقا في هذا الشهر. ويقولون إن زيارته لإسرائيل تخالف القرارات التي اتخذتها الجامعة الأمريكية في عام 1979 ومرة أخرى في عام 2008 «لدعم للأكاديميين الفلسطينيين» و الشعب الفلسطيني. أيضا زيارته تتناقض مع حركة مقاطعة إسرائيل (BDS) ومبادئ نشر الديمقراطية و حقوق الانسان التي يلتزم بها في منصبه كأستاذ سابق في الجامعة الأمريكية ورئيس مركز «ابن خلدون للدراسات الإنمائية"
الشرطة الجزائرية تفرق احتجاجاً للأطباء في وسط العاصمة بالقوةعثمان لحياني حاول عدد من الأطباء الجزائريين تنظيم مسيرة من مستشفى في وسط العاصمة احتجاجا على أوضاعهم المهنية. و لكان تدخل الأمن الجزائري منع خروج الأطباء إلى الشارع و استخدام القوة من الأمن أدى إلى إصابة عدد من المتظاهرين الأطباء و اعتقال عدد أخر.
تونس.. غضب يتصاعد مقابل الغلاءهذا التقرير يتحدث عن أسباب تجديد النهج الثوري في تونس و أسباب نزول المتظاهرون إلى الشارع خلال هذا الشهر. أحد الأسباب المهمة هي غلاء الأسعار في أعقاب المصادقة على قانون المالية 2018. ارتفاع أسعار المنتجات الأساسية مثل البنزين و السكر و الأدوية من بداية رأس السنة الجديدة أدى لخفض القوة الشرائية للتونسيين. بالإضافة إلى البنود الواردة في قانون المالية لهذه السنة التي تضمن خصم الأجور.
تظاهرة حاشدة لموظفي "أونروا" في غزة رفضاً للابتزاز الأميركيجهاد عويص نظم اتحاد الموظفين العرب بوكالة أونروا في قطاع غزة مسيرة حاشدة لموظفي الوكالة احتجاجاً على التهديدات من الإدارة الأمريكية لإغلاق الوكالة. خرج أكثر من 13 ألف متظاهر إلى الشوارع في مسيرة غاضبة على الإدارة الأمريكية التي تهدف إلى إيقاف المساعدات للاجئين الفلسطينيين. وقال المدير العام للأونروا إن حماية الوكالة مهمة انسانية لأنها منظمة تقدم الخدمات اليومية الأساسية للاجئين في المنطقة. تقدم الأونروا الخدمات إلى 6 ملايين لاجئ في غزة والضفة الغربية و سورية والأردن ولبنان، و فيها 30 ألف موظف.
دعوات بمصر لمقاطعة الانتخابات الرئاسيةأصدر عدد من السياسيين المصريين البارزين بيانا يدعو الشعب المصري إلى مقاطعة الانتخابات الرئاسية القادمة. وأدان البيان ممارسات الأمن المصري في منع المنافسة النزيهة و"محاولة إفراغ الساحة من كل المرشحين" كما حدث مع المرشح سامي عنان منذ قريب. لهذه الأسباب يوصفون الانتخابات ك "مسرحية هزلية.”
Meet Yemen’s Street Artist: “We Want Peace,” by Gouri Sharma Since the start of the revolution in 2011, Murad Subay has been using street art to campaign for peace in Yemen. His mural campaign ‘The walls remember their faces’ on the forced disappearances not only pushed the issue onto the political agenda, but also helped to find and locate some of the people who had gone missing. Through his campaigns, Subay works to involve the community collaboratively, to give them hope and to give them a voice.
Little Gandhi: A Syrian Movie About Peaceful Activism, by Rob Reynolds For the first time, Syria had an Oscar nomination in the Best Foreign Language Film category: a documentary called Little Gandhi. The documentary is centred on the uprising that began in 2011 and tells the story of Ghiyath Matar, a young Syrian activist.
Palestinian Artist Draws Vivid Picture of Women’s Suffering, Rage, by Rasha Abou Jalal Palestinian artist Hanaa Hamash was featured at the exhibition “13 Million” in Gaza city, which focused on the strength of Palestinian women who live in harsh conditions under occupation. Hamash highlights in her work women's active role in the Palestinian artistic and resistance movements.
Book Reviews Dancing in Damascus: Creativity, Resilience, and the Syrian Revolution, by Miriam Cook In this audio interview, Nadirah Mansour interviews author and scholar Miriam Cooke on her new book titled Dancing in Damascus: Creativity, Resilience, and the Syrian Revolution (Routledge, 2017). This book looks at how artists have creatively portrayed the war in Syria through various mediums of art since the beginning of the revolution in 2011 and the intersections of oppression, art, and memory.
Putting Balfour on Trial, by Selba Dabbagh Dabbagh reviews two books: J.M.N. Jeffries's Palestine the Reality: The Inside Story of the Balfour Declaration 1917-1938 (Olive Branch Press 2017), and Colin Anderson's Balfour in the Dock: J.M.N. Jeffries and the Case for the Prosecution (Skyscraper 2017). While Jeffries’ book functions as collated primary source material, meticulously constructed to present a weighty critique of the Balfour Declaration and its legacy, Anderson's work makes a case not just for the prosecution of Arthur James Balfour, but also in defense of Jeffries and the commentary around him.
لماذا يمانع العرب الاستقلالية النقابية؟غسانصليبي جزء من الكتيب بعنوان" "النقابات المستقلة في المنظمة العربيّة" سيصدر قريباً عن الاتحاد الدولي لنقابات الخدمات العامة. يتحدث عن استقلال النقابات في العالم العربي ونضالها عبر التاريخ من أجل الاستقلال.
My Daughter, These Are Tears of Struggle, by Bassem Tamimi In this article, Bassam Tamimi, recounts the events that led to the arrest of his daughter, Ahed Tamimi. He also writes how his daughter is part of a new generation of Palestinians, that will lead the resistance against the Israeli occupation, and the old generation should not stand on their way.
A Girl’s Chutzpah: Three Reasons a Palestinian Teenage Girl is Driving Israel Insane, by Gideon Levy Gideon Levy discusses the case of Ahed Tamimi and how she defied the Israeli military apparatus. He ends his analysis by saying: “if only there were many more like her. Maybe girls like her will be able to shake Israelis up. Maybe the intifada of slappings will succeed where all other methods of resistance, violent and non-violent, have failed.”
How Mainstream Media Gets Palestine Wrong, by Mariam Barghouti “The mainstream media focus is always on Palestinian reaction and not on Israeli action and it insinuates that Palestinians are on the offence when in fact they are on the defence. […] Today, as we are supposedly in the "post-colonial" age, settler colonialism is considered a thing of the past. Yet, colonial bias still dominates mainstream portrayal of Palestinians. In the past few decades, Israel has been quite successful in maintaining a grip on the general narrative and ensuring that the bias persists.”
The Thorns that Exist and Resist: Black-Palestine Solidarity in the Twenty-First Century, by Andy Clarno According to the author, over the last three years “movements for black and Palestinian liberation have intensified the bonds of solidarity.” He argues, that “the political imaginary of contemporary black-Palestine solidarity […] is grounded in an analysis of similar yet distinct structures of domination connected through a global network of imperial power. Similarly, the visions for liberation emphasize the importance of conjoined struggles.”
Confronting Israel with Stones and Courage, by Rami Almeghari Almeghari provides a brief history of the first intifada through oral testimonies of people from Gaza. In the face of violent occupation, Palestinians have shown great courage and resourcefulness when resisting their occupier. This first manifests through the act of throwing stones, as well as organising within their communities.
Palestinians Are Winning the Online Battle for Jerusalem, by Yousef Alhelou Since Donald Trump's Jerusalem announcement on December 6, there have been live footage and reporting on social media, mobilised by Palestinians who continue to fight for their own online visibility and make their voices heard. Citizen journalists find innovative ways to distribute material, despite Israeli surveillance, censorship, and punishment of Palestinian social media activity.
“Local Call” Wins Award for Social Change, by +972 Magazine Hebrew-language website Local Call wins the Dror Prize for social change for its persistent coverage of the joint feminist struggle between Arab and Jewish women against gender violence. Notably, in 2017, Local Call (a project of “972-Advancement of Citizen Journalism, Just Vision, and Activestills) has brought to light police harassment, proliferation of weapons, and murder cases in Israeli society, while also being present at demonstrations organized by Arab women in major cities.
Algeria’s Berbers Protest for Tamazight Language Rights, by Jilian Kestler-D’Amours This article reports on the call to promote and preserve the indigenous language from Berber communities in Algeria, after the state rejected a budget amendment to formalize the teaching of the Tamazight language in local schools. The protests come from a tradition of historical struggle as part of the fight for Berber identity rights.
Women Take to Streets to Demand End to South Sudan War, by Al Jazeera On December 9, “hundreds of women covered their mouths with tape as they took to the streets in South Sudan’s capital, Juba, to demand an end to their country’s war and the suffering of its people. Carrying posters and signs that read ‘Bring back our peace now!,’ ‘Save my future, stop the war’ and ‘Enough of the bloodshed,’ women of all ages expressed their anger at a conflict now entering its fifth year.”
In Turkey, Academics Asking for Peace Are Accused of Terrorism, by Judith Butler and Başak Ertür Butler and Ertür describe the dire consequences academics are facing for signing the Academics for Peace petition in January 2016. They analyses how the indictment distorts the intention of the petition to accuse signatories of terrorism, and calls for international solidarity in supporting academics who have been dismissed, as well as to keep an eye on the upcoming proceedings of the trials.
Twitter Suspends More Accounts of Egyptian Activists, by Sherif Azer On December 12, 2017, Twitter shut down the account of prominent Egyptian cyberactivist Wael Abbas (@waelabbas), along with subsequent accounts he set up. Abbas is well known for his work on exposing corruption, human rights violations and challenging social norms online. Just before his account was closed, he criticized Alaa Mubarak, ousted president Hosni Mubarak’s son, on Twitter. The closing of Abbas’ account by Twitter is believed to be in response to a large wave of violation reports by accounts linked to supporters of Mubarak’s regime. Sherif Azer argues that “the closing or suspending of accounts by activists seeking social and political change adds to the repression and suffering they are already experiencing under authoritarian regimes. Social media sites should apply more discerning methods for reporting abuses, rather than automated responses to mass reporting.”
Searching for a Battle: Why Boycotting the Presidential Elections Is a Bad Idea, by Amr Abdel Rahman Amr Abdel Rahman argues that “a decision to engage in the elections may provide democratic groups with an escape from the current paralysis of Egypt’s political sphere, and a chance for politics to move away from the duality of ‘military vs. Islamists.’ Many politically engaged people have frozen in time since the bloody summer of 2013, amid the crackdown on civil society and general dissatisfaction with economic and social policies. The elections could provide an opportunity to revive their organizational structures and discourses, particularly given their inability to protest — or even express a clear desire for an alternative.”
Thousands Protest After Two Brothers Die in Morocco’s “Mines of Death,” by France24 Two brothers died in a tunnel accident, 85 metres (90 yards) below ground, sparking days of mass protests in the impoverished city of Jerada. On December 26, thousands of people protested against economic marginalisation, accusing authorities of "abandoning" them. "The people want an economic alternative," demonstrators chanted, carrying Moroccan flags on their shoulders and insisting that their protests were peaceful.
عهد التميمي.. حلمت بكرة القدم فركلت الاحتلال تم اعتقال الناشطة الفلسطينية الشابة عهد التميمي في الأيام الماضية و محكمة عسكرية إسرائيلية تمددت اعتقاله عشرة أيام بتهم مقاومة جنود الاحتلال. الكاتب محمد النجار يكتب عن حياة و عائلة عهد و احلامها كشابة فلسطينية و نشاطها السياسي ضد الاحتلال الإسرائيلي.
غضب القدس مستمر في الضفة وغزة مراجعة أحداث بعد اليوم الحادي عشر من الإحتجاج الفلسطيني عن اعلان الرئيس الأمريكي بالقدس عصمة لاسرائيل. معلومات عن مواجهات بين الجيش الأسرائيلي و المتظاهرين في مدن الضفة الغربية و اقتحامات القوات الاحتلال و اعتقالات.
المستعربون... السلاح الإسرائيلي في العمق الفلسطيني هذا التقرير يوضح دور المستعربين. هم جنود اسرائلي يتسربون إلى المقاومة الفلسطينية لغرض القتل أو إعتقال المتظاهرين. بهذا الطريقة الاحتلال الاسرائلي يحاول يضعف المقاومة بانتشار الشك مابين الصفوف الفلسطينية.
«اتحادات الطلاب».. العودة لقواعد ما قبل 25 يناير بمناسبة إنتخابات الاتحادات الطلابية في جميع جامعات المصرية الكاتب مصطفى محي يكشف عن الوضع الحالي لاتحاد الطلاب و نشطاء الطلاب تحت تأثير قوانين جديدة و تدخل من الأمن و إدارة الجامعة باسلوب تقييدية
كيف امسكت المرأة الكردية السلاح؟ انتشرت صورة المقاتلات الكرديات في السنوات الماضية في الاعلام و الكاتب يبحث عن كيفية وصول المرأة لهذا الدور. الثقافة السياسة و التاريخ الكردي عناصر مهمة في هذا الواقع المختلف بنسبة الصورة العامة للمرأة في الشرق الأوسط.
استقالة رئيس برلمان إقليم كردستان العراق رئيس برلمان كردستان علان استقالته إحتجاجا على إحتكار السياسي و الفساد و الفشل الحكومي في الأقليم. في بيان الاستقالة دعا الرئيس إلى "تشكيل جبهة واسعة للإنقاذ الوطني".أيضاً إنتقد اعضاء حزب حركة التغير، الحزب التي الرئيس ينتمى إليها، تصرف قوات الامن الكردية نحو المتظاهرين و عتقال 600 شخصا بدون أساس قانوني. بين 250 و 300 من هؤلاء المعتقلين مازالو في السجون.
هذه المشكلات الاجتماعية فجرت تظاهرات كردستان العراق المشاكل الاجتماعية مثل الفقر و البطالة و الفساد في حكومة الأقليم و قلة الخدمات الحكومية أدت لاحتجاج واسع في مدن كردستان العراق. بحسب النشطاء خرج الشعب الكردي إلى الشارع لهذه الأسباب و يطالب بإصلاح سياسياً و إجتماعياً.
A Battle for Existence: How the Combined Forces of Censorship and Security Shaped Egypt’s Music Scene in 2017, by Hessen Hossam The restrictions imposed by the [Egyptian] state on musicians and their art throughout 2017 have been numerous and wider than even in scope and reach […].” Apart from the arrests that followed the concert of the Lebanese indie band Mashrou’ Leila, where members of the audience raised a rainbow flag, other concerts were cancelled (e.g. Egyptian rock band Cairokee, Algerian musician Souad Massi, Moroccan singer and songwriter Oum and Palestinian band 47 Soul), and the Censorship Board rejected certain songs from being released. Nevertheless, artists find ways to overcome these bans and make their music available to the public.
Egyptians Tell Stories of Abuse, Harassment on Stage, by Menna A. Farouk Since 2006, BuSSy (the Egyptian version of Vagina Monologues) has used theatre and storytelling as an avenue for women to share their experiences of abuse and sexual harassment. In 2010 the program was expanded to include both men and women.
Egyptian Director Sticks Tongue Out at Movie Kisses, by Ahmed Fouad Ahmed Amer's satirical movie "Balash Tebosni" (Don't Kiss Me) follows the efforts of a young director in filming the perfect kiss scene and the struggles that ensue. Amer critiques Egyptian cinema but also takes aim at censorship laws regarding kissing and sex scenes in film and television. While he was given permission to shoot the film, it is still unclear whether it will be screened in Egypt at all.
Women’s Theater in Gaza Breaks New Ground, by Rami Almeghari Almeghari profiles the work of women-led Bozour Culture and Arts theater group, through the voices of directors Wissam El-Dirawie, Manal Barakat and Ola Salem Deeb, and some young actors involved. The article draws together the beginnings, difficulties, and successes of Bozour as it operates in Gaza.
Turkish Feminist Artist Takes on Mount Qaf, by Ayla Jean Yackley Turkish artist CANAN’s exhibition at Istanbul’s Arter Gallery, “Behind Mount Qaf,” takes its motifs from Islamic cosmology, Western literature, and traditional fifteenth century aesthetic forms. CANAN combines the surrealist imagery with the politics of her own body to comment on how the mechanisms of power constrict Turkish society, and how arriving at Mount Qaf is the story of self-discovery that allows one to resist and heal.
*Image credits: “Free Ahed Tamimi” ad at a London bus stop. Image by pannotticom, via Flickr.
November 2017 News & Commentaries
The Colonial Gas Machine, Teargas Grenades, Secular Humanist Police, and the Intoxication of Racialized Lives, by Dariouche Kechavarzi-Tehrani Based on a comprehensive discussion on teargas grenades and the “spectacle of the explosion,” Dariouche Kechavarzi-Tehrani, provides an insightful account of the “riot control” weapons industry and “humanist” forms of repression. He writes “A teargas grenade explodes with an aura of spectacle, appears during a clash and supposedly in response to a given event. Although the metropolitan leftist activist may occasionally experience the effects of teargas grenades, the latter do not compose an everyday aspect of their life. Toxicity, in our colonial context, is an event only for the privileged while it composes a fundamental aspect of life for the colonized.”
Jineology: From Women’s Struggles to Social Liberation, by Brecht Neven and Marlene Schäfers In this interview, Necîbe Qeredaxî, a journalist and advocate for Kurdish rights, discusses the concept of jineology, its emergence and aims. Jineology is “a framework of radical feminist analysis that the Kurdish movement has been developing since 2008, [trying] to transfer the advancements of the Kurdish women’s movement into society.”
Syria’s Arab, Kurdish Women Join Forces to Fight for Future, by Amberin Zaman Scores of women from Arab and Kurdish backgrounds are joining an “all-Arab women’s force that was formed earlier this year as part of the Syrian Kurdish Women’s Protection Units (YPJ), the globally acclaimed women’s militia”. This multi-ethnic and highly diverse group of women is challenging patriarchy, gender inequality, and ethnic divides in the region.
Syrian Refugees End Two-Week Hunger Strike in Athens, by AFP Fourteen Syrian refugees were on hunger strike in front of the Hellenic parliament for two weeks, asking to be reunited with their families in Germany. They ended their hunger strike, after the German Consul and officials from the Greek Migration Ministry assured them that they will be accepted in Germany soon.
On Warraq Island, Popular Democracy Defies Secret State Plans, by Heba Afify After the public announcement in June of the Egyptian state’s plan to vacate Nile islands, and in particular the Warraq Island, the inhabitants of the island started mobilized to defend their lands. “They have expanded their actions beyond the immediacy of street resistance and moved toward developing negotiation strategies with the state and maneuvers to counter smear campaigns.” They formed the Warraq Islands Family Council, representing all the families of the island, to voice their concerns in a more organized manner and eventually negotiate with the state.
Egyptians Highlight Human Rights Abuses as Government Campaign Backfires, by Shahira Amin Internet activists hijacked a campaign launched by the Egyptian government to promote the World Youth Forum via the conference hashtag #WeNeedToTalk, to highlight human rights abuses in the country under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s regime. Shahira Amin explains that this had occured within a broader government crackdown on dissent, that initially targeted Muslim Brotherhood leaders and supporters but later expanded to include liberal activists, members of civil society organizations, intellectuals and journalists critical of government policies.
Rif Protests, Sign of A Wider Discontent?, by Giusy Musarò In this overview of the recent Hirak movement in Morocco, the author argues that “recognizing the Hirak movement as a movement that asks for better living conditions and not as a separatist tendency against the national integrity and security might be a first step towards reconciliation and development, considering that the initiatives undertaken against youth radicalization would benefit as well.”
A New Generation of Protests in Morocco? How Hirak Al-Rif Endures, by Mohammed Masbah Mohammed Masbah compares the 20 February Movement and Hirak al-Rif in northern Morocco. He notes that while similar structural factors underline the grievances of these two political movements, they have taken “different paths in the nature and style, their structure and organization, and their use of social media,” which in turn have contributed significantly to “the enduring character of the Hirak and the resilience of its activists.”
Bahrain Sinks Deeper in Repression of All Dissident Voices, by Dimitris Christopoulos This is an account of the struggle for human rights of Nabeel Rajab, Deputy Secretary General of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), and the price he had to pay for his activism in Bahrain. Through the story of Nabeel Rajab, the author points out the increasingly repressive treatment that many “dissident voices” have to face in Bahrain.
Balfour Declaration at 100: From Ramallah to Pretoria, by Azad Essa and Ibrahim Husseini On November 2, thousands of Palestinians marched to the British cultural center in Ramallah and the British Consulate in East Jerusalem, to protest on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration. The protesters condemned the Declaration and its legacy of dispossession, and called for an apology from Britain. Similar protests were held across the West Bank, as well as in the UK, South Africa, and Turkey.
A Message to Artists Who Play Israel, by Steven Salaita Steven Salaita writes a letter to artists who play in Israel despite calls for international solidarity via cultural boycott. He argues that artists playing in Israel have a moral responsibility and makes a strong case for cultural boycott. “How can your art bring people together when one of the parties can't even attend? Palestinian movement is severely restricted by checkpoints, segregated highways, closed borders, religious profiling, and zones of residence. Many of those lucky enough to enjoy freedom of travel don't have the resources to frequent big-ticket events.”
A Room of Our Own: Building a New Anti-Racist Space in Jerusalem, by Sahar Vardi Sahar Vardi, a young Israeli activist, argues that there is not “a single formula for creating activism and change” and she proposes two essential elements for activism: “a space for people to learn, meet others, be exposed to opinions, and formulate positions, and a space to plan and work together.” She introduces the new project Imbala, which aims to create this space for the activist community of Jerusalem.
Raised to Rebel, by Budour Youssef Hassan Through the story of the Issawi family, Budour Youssef Hassan describes the struggle of the Palestinians living in East Jerusalem’s suburb of Issawiyeh, their everyday resistance and participation in the civil disobedience movement.
One Hundred Days of Arbitrary Detention: One Thousand Elected Officials Join Call to Free Salah Hamouri, by Samidoun November 30 marked the 100th day of imprisonment without charge or trial for Salah Hamouri, the French-Palestinian lawyer and human rights advocate jailed in an Israeli prison. Hamouri is supported by a growing campaign throughout France; as the 100th day of his imprisonment was marked, the campaign for his support announced that one thousand French elected officials and fifty-six Members of European Parliament had signed to support Hamouri’s release.
Palestinians in Jabal Al-Baba Protest Israeli Expulsion Order, by Activestills Demonstrators joined the Palestinian community of Jabal al-Baba in West Bank on November 23, to “protest a new Israeli-military order that would displace the entire community.” Over the last month, “similar evacuation orders have been issued against the villages of Ein al-Hilweh and Umm Jama in the Jordan Valley. The latest orders are part of a larger trend of evictions and demolition orders issued to Palestinians living in Area C, the sixty percent of the West Bank where the Israeli military controls not only security but also civil matters.”
Women Speak Out Against Harassment in Gaza, by Mohammed Moussa A growing number of women in Gaza face sexual assault and harassment, especially by local taxi drivers. Some women say that “the situation is getting worse as a result of Gaza’s broken economy and Israel’s eleven-year blockade that is strangling the Strip. With the unemployment rate over forty percent, more young men are trying to make ends meet as drivers. Despite the “conservative societal norms,” women in Gaza are starting to speak out and demand for more regulations related to taxi drivers.
Art & Culture
Digital Archive Preserves Creative Side of Syrian Revolution, by Ak Naddaff Syrian graphic designer Sana Yazigi produced the trilingual website, called “The Creative Memory of the Syrian Revolution,” to document how Syrians spoke out and asked for their rights after 50 years of government-imposed silence. The project is an archive of cultural forms of Syrian expression, such as graffiti, murals, drawings, sculptures, videos, photos, poems, songs, caricatures, texts. At the moment there are approximately 23,000 documents archived, and available in Arabic, French and English.
The Iraqi Soundtrack to the War Against ISIS, by Alex Shams The notion of national pride is very noticeable in Iraqi culture, especially in music and music videos. “These videos reflect the hopes and aspirations of many Iraqis today: that ISIS will be defeated and peace will return to the country. They also demonstrate the enduring power of the idea of Iraq as a unifying force, with Iraqi national unity a point of hope not only in the current struggle but also for the future.”
Revisiting the Cultural Field in Morocco and Tunisia after the “Arab Spring,” by Cristina Moreno Almeida The author provides a critique of post-“Arab Spring” studies that analyze Arab rap music (and other forms of cultural production) as a homogenous phenomenon across the Middle East and North Africa. Apart from the differences between various countries, she points out in the complexity of subversive cultural production as well as its existence beyond the “Arab Spring.”
The State of Kurdish Cinema, by S.J. In recent years, Erbil, the largest city in the Kurdish autonomous region in Iraq, has seen both a state- and citizen-led cultural revival that has buoyed its film industry. This article considers the lack of infrastructure and government developments that has resulted in artist-led initiatives and self-organised groups, low-budget film- and documentary-making. Kurdish artists in the global diaspora too, are receiving attention for their works, many of which “search for a return, and probe questions of belonging.”
Lebanese Artists Voice Social Concerns, by Florence Massena Singer Yasmine Hamdan and band Mashrou' Leila are known as some of the most politicised music performers in Lebanon, both of whom speaks publicly on the changes and challenges that their country faces.
Beautifying Beirut: Making Art Out of Garbage, by Gaja Pellegrini-Bettoli Ayad Nasser is interviewed on his work of rehabilitating the neighbourhood of Ouzai. Originally from the area, Nasser returned to Lebanon and invested in the area by bringing artists to Ouzai to paint graffiti on the walls and create 'Ouzville'. He also founded an organisation called Lebnene, which is aimed to engage all citizens to bring about real change, working to become part of a new government that is lead by its involved citizens, decreasing corruption and self-interest.
Young Egyptian Artists Reflect Social Problems Through Their Lens, by Salwa Samir Salwa Samir considers the photographic work of young Syrian artists participating in 'Cairographie', a photography and videography festival. The theme of this year is 'transition', to highlight the change and transformation that has taken place in Egypt after the January 25 Revolution, and expressed through” personal experiences and/or sociopolitical topics such as Egyptian workers, the youth, daily life or architecture.”
Palestinian Artist Urges Women to Talk About Sexual Harassment, by Ahmad Melhem A project by Yasmeen Mjalli called 'I am not your sweetheart' encourages Palestinian women to speak out against sexual harassment and abuse. Despite various youth and community campaigns on the topic, “the issue of sexual harassment continues to be ignored” in Palestine. The conservative traditions, the lack of penalties for harassers in the Palestinian Penal code, and the lack of of accurate statistics and reporting, make it more difficult for women to report such incidents to the police.
Wajiha Jendoubi: “Theatre Is My Weapon,” by Al Jazeera Wajiha Jendoubi, a Tunisian actress, whose comedy shows deals with the rise of post-revolutionary extremism. She perceives Tunisia as a “free woman.” She says, “my Tunisia is the woman who speaks out. My Tunisia is the woman who is active; the militant one, the hard-working one.”
*Image credits: Kurdish YPG Fighter. Image by Kurdishstruggle, via Flickr.
News & Comments Not Another Story of Failed Liberation: Tensions in Bashur and Rojava in the Light of the Referendum, by Huseyin Rasit The author argues that “there are at least two Kurdistans: Bashur with its capitalist modernization, and Rojava and its allies with their democratic confederalism. It is difficult to say how the relation between these two projects will unfold in the long run. Yet we can say for now that the tensions in both of them have become more obvious during the referendum process. If we want the future of Kurdistan to be bright one, we need to discuss these tensions and how to move beyond them instead of focusing solely on the question of independence.”
Rainbow Flag at Gig Sparks Media Storm of Hostility, by Mostafa Mohie During a Cairo concert by the Lebanese band Mashrou’ Leila, the rainbow flag of the LGBT movement was raised. As a consequence, Egyptian authorities arrested seven people, and Egyptian media “went into a spin.” Mostafa Mohie provides an analysis of the Egyptian media coverage of the incident. He writes that “most media coverage was hostile toward those who raised the flag, […] but more notably, writers and publications seemed confused as to what language to use to describe the Lebanese band as well as those holding the flag and the event organizers. The word shawaz, meaning deviant, was perhaps the most widely used.”
Targeting the Ultras: Why Are Security Forces Trying to Erase the Memory of the Stands? by Mai Shams El Din On 16 September, Egyptian security forces arrested one hundred and fifty Ahly Football Club fans (Ultras Ahlawy) in Alexandria. The fans “were arrested for wearing shirts bearing the number seventy-four, a reference to the fans that were killed during the 2012 Port Said stadium violence.” This incident is part of a series of continuous arrests of football fans in Egypt, and it reflects security forces’ fear “over the ways in which they organize, not only to cheer on the teams, but also to mourn fans who have died.”
How Egyptian Activists Are Trying to Curb Polygamy, Rami Galal Social media activists in Egypt have been calling for an additional condition in marriage contracts, “requiring the first wife’s prior consent in the event that her husband seeks a second wife under a polygamy arrangement.” Following this social media campaign, member of parliament Abdel Moneim al-Alimi, submitted a draft law to Egypt’s parliament to amend the law regulating marriage contracts. The campaign has been very controversial and it remains to be seen if the Egyptian parliament will pass this legislation.
Egypt Detains Nubians During a Peaceful, Singing Protest, by Salma Islam On September 3, on “Nubian Assembly Day,” Nubians in the city of Aswan, Egypt, marched peacefully for the right to return in their ancestral land in Egypt. The protesters demanded that the Egyptian government delivers on a relevant article of the constitution, and revokes another decree that allowed the establishment of military zones in parts of Nubia. The protest was repressed by Egyptian security forces, and several Nubian activists were arrested.
Iraq’s Female Booksellers Turn the Page on Gender Roles, by Mustafa Saadoun Books Town, a bookstore in Iraqi city of Baqubeh in Diyala governorate, which is known for sectarian violence and the Islamic State. Tayseen Ameer, the young woman who owns Books Town, is one of several women who opened bookstores in Iraq. Many of them consider the “presence of women in bookselling – a role that has been reserved traditionally for men – a defiance of the traditions and norms that have contributed to the isolation of women.”
Turkey’s “Resistance Media” Refuses to Buckle, by Sibel Hurtas While Turkey’s repression of the media continues, popular news sites, such as Sendika.org, are resilient in the state’s harsh crackdown. After each government order blocking access to their sites, they create a new site. Sendika.org, for example, since 2015 has been revived sixty-one times so far.
The Israeli Algorithm Criminalizing Palestinians for Online Dissent, by Nadim Nashif and Marwa Fatafta Israeli intelligence has developed a predictive policing system – a computer algorithm – that analyzes social media posts to identify Palestinian “suspects.” The algorithm-based program monitors tens of thousands of young Palestinians’ Facebook accounts, and those of relatives, friends, classmates, and co-workers of recent Palestinians killed by Israel to assess their potential risk. The authors argue that “even if such algorithms deter attacks, imprisoning Palestinians based on a probability created by a machine is a clear violation of Palestinians’ rights. The expansion of the Israeli occupation’s oppression of the Palestinian people, now in its fiftieth year, to the cyber sphere is an alarming trend. Every and any Palestinian is now a suspect simply by exercising their freedom of expression online.”
Surveillance of Palestinians and the Fight for Digital Rights, by Nadim Nashif “Surveillance of Palestinians has always been part of Israel’s colonial project, but new technologies have made this surveillance even more intrusive and widespread. Israel particularly uses social media to monitor what individual Palestinians say and do, as well as to gather and analyze information on attitudes among the Palestinian public more broadly.”
Palestinian Campaign to Force UK to Cancel Balfour Celebrations, by Middle East Monitor The Popular Conference for Palestinians Abroad and a number of Palestinian groups are gearing up for a coordinated digital campaign to mark 100 years since the Balfour Declaration was issued by Lord Arthur Balfour, promising the Jews a national home in Palestine. Using the hashtag #Balfour100, social media users will be calling on the UK government to apologize for the Balfour Declaration and the British colonization of Palestine and demanding the cancellation of one of the largest Zionist celebrations of the Declaration, set to take place on 7 November at the Royal Albert Hall in London. The social media activity is part of a broader campaign launched by PCPA two months ago entitled “Balfour: A Colonial Project.”
“It Is Being Done to Intimidate Us:” Israeli Anti-Occupation Groups Face Crackdown, by Peter Beaumont Israeli MPs are considering two initiatives “aiming at shutting down one of the country’s most high-profile anti-occupation groups, Breaking the Silence, which records the testimonies of Israeli soldiers operating in Palestinian territories. […] The moves come amid increasingly harsh rhetoric from Israel’s right wing, which has sought to cast Breaking the Silence and other anti-occupation groups including B’Tselem as ‘traitors.’”
Women March Through Desert for Israeli-Palestinian Peace, by Reuters Thousands of Palestinian and Israeli women have joined together to march through the desert for peace. The march was organized by Women Wage Peace, an organization established after the fifty-day Gaza war of 2014 when more than 2,100 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed. Israel put the number of its dead at sixty-seven soldiers and six civilians.
How Can Women “Wage Peace” Without Talking About Occupation? by Orly Noy Orly Noy provides a thorough criticism of the Women’s March organized by Women Wage Peace. While he welcomes a mass movement of women in support of peace, he is critical of what was absent in the activists’ calls for peace, and especially that the word “occupation” was entirely absent from this group that aims to end the conflict.
Palestine’s First Female-Run Cookery School is “A Labour of Love,” by Naima Morelli Bait Al Karama, the first Women’s Centre in the hear of Nablus, combines a culinary social enterprise with art and cultural activities. Through its activities, the centre is trying to preserve the traditions of Palestinian cuisine, challenge gender roles, and resist movement restrictions throughout the West Bank.
In Morocco, Press Freedom Shrinks With Hirak Protests, by Ilhem Rachidi Since the start of the Hirak protests, the repression of journalists has increased dramatically in Morocco. In the absence of clear laws and a just judicial system, journalists often hinder their own opinions in a practice of self-censorship to ensure the continuity of their work and publications.
Why Tunisia Just Passed Controversial Laws on Corruption and Women’s Rights to Marry, by Nadia Marzouki On September 14, President Béji Caïd Essebsi announced he would repeal a 1973 law that prevented Muslim women from marrying non-Muslim men. This announcement came one day after the Tunisian parliament passed another piece of legislation granting amnesty to corrupt civil servants, which triggered a nation-wide wave of protests. While these current “legislative battles” suggest that while the old regime tactics remain active in Tunisia, movements like Manich Msamah, civil society organizations and the “collective public energy of the 2011 revolution is still alive.”
The Socio-Economic Roots of Syria’s Uprising, by Alice Bonfatti In this piece, Alice Bonfatti provides an overview of the various socio-economic factors that contributed to the “inevitable” uprising in Syria in 2011. Among those are: the emergence of a state bourgeoisie, the impoverishment of rural areas, the increasing growth in unemployment, the strengthening of the military and security apparatus, and the repression of freedom.
Art Constructing and Echoing Social Perceptions: Gay Characters in Egyptian Film, by Adham Youssef This survey of films argues a lack of progress in when it comes to filmic depictions of LGBTQI characters. This essay was written in the wake of a media ban on the appearance of homosexuals and homosexual “slogans,” that came amid arrests, prison sentences, anal examinations, public shaming, accusations of mental instability, and general incitement against people based on their perceived sexuality, an attack that started after rainbow flags were raised at a concert on 22 September in Cairo.
Jailed Kurdish Leader Keeps in Touch with Supporters Through Arts, Literature, by Sibel Hurtas For Selahattin Demirtas, leader of Turkey’s main Kurdish political movement, art and literature have become a form of resistance. He has produced paintings, poems and most recently a collection of stories, in resistance against his own incarceration and Turkey’s increasingly authoritarian government despite behind bars on terror-related charges for almost a year.
Palestinian Orchestra Uses “Music As Resistance,” by Nigel Wilson The Palestine Youth Orchestra (PYO) was founded in Birzeit in 2004 and its members live in the occupied Palestinian territories, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, but also Australia, and are aged 14 to 26. However, reading the orchestra’s headquarters at the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music in Birzeit, or joining concerts within or outside the occupied Palestinian territories is always a challenge due to entry and travel permits. Zeina Khoury, PYO manager, says “It’s not easy to make this happen. It’s our message to the world, music if our form of resistance, and making it happen in Palestine.”
“Less-Lethal” Weapons in Jerusalem: “The Purpose of These Bullets Isn’t Corresponding to the Reality,” an opendemocracy interview with Tali Mayer Israeli photojournalist Tali Mayer, 28, was shot by a black-tipped sponge bullet while reporting on a demonstration. This led to her project with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), photographing Palestinians injured by these crowd-control bullets. The ultimate goal of the project is policy change regarding the use of these bullets. In this interview, Mayer speaks about the use of these “non-lethal” weapons by Israeli security forces, their impact on people’s bodies and lives, and the lack of state regulations.
How Art Is Blooming Amid the Gaza Wasteland, by Donald Macintyre In this excerpt from his book Gaza: Preparing for Dawn, Donald Macintyre demonstrates the richness of art and culture in the Palestinian enclave of the Gaza Strip.
News & Comments Freedom in the Middle East: There Are Still Reasons to Be Positive, by Rayan El-Amine The author argues that despite the failure of the Arab uprisings, there has been a return of grass-roots protests in the Middle East, that signifies “the revival of bottom-up politics in the Arab world.” The social mobilizations in the northern Rif region of Morocco is one example of this return of protest politics.
How the World Missed a Week of Palestinian Civil Disobedience, by Edo Konrad The Israeli government’s decision to install metal detectors at the entrance to the Al-Aqsa compound sparked outrage and protests, and eventually led to the deaths of four Palestinians and three Israeli settlers. However, the media’s coverage neglected the nonviolent aspect of the protests.
Al-Aqsa Protests Unite Jerusalemites, by Daoud Kuttab The July protests in Jerusalem over the Israeli restrictions placed on the entry of Al-Aqsa mosque became “the nucleus of a new movement for Jerusalemites.” Several religious organizations, such as the Islamic Supreme Committee, were in the forefront and provided “moral and philosophical leadership.” However, the role of young people and local civil society organizations was crucial. “The five prayers a day became the focus of organized activities, media attention and public support.”
Jerusalem’s African Community Stands with Al-Aqsa, by Aziza Nofal During the July protests in Jerusalem, members of the city’s African community offered protesters water and food. They also welcomed worshippers into their homes during the protests, as the community centre is located near Al-Aqsa. Although the African community in Jerusalem is relatively small in numbers, it is “a central part of the city’s social fabric, which is composed of many different groups that all acknowledge the sanctity of the city.”
Is Morocco Headed Toward Insurrection? by Hisham Aidi Hisham Aidi provides a detailed account of protest history in the Rif region in Morocco, since the founding of the Rif Republic in 1923 by Abdelkrim Al Khattabi, until today’s Hirak movement.
In Morocco, Press Freedom Shrinks with Hirak Protests, by Ilhem Rachidi Since the beginning of the Hirak protest movement in October 2016, eight journalists have been jailed. They were arrested while covering the news in the Rif region. Over the past years the repression of journalists has been escalating. According to the author, “after a rise in press freedom at the end of King Hassan II’s rule (in the late 1990s) and during the first years of Mohammed VI’s reign, the Makhzen (Morocco’s state and administration) has progressively silenced independent newspapers through financial sanctions, boycotts and pressure on journalists.”
Morocco: the Popular Movement in the Rif Suppressed, by Mayssae Ajzannay Ben Moussa Since October 2016, the Al Hoceima region in North East Morocco has been the scene of ongoing popular protests. The peaceful movement calls for: freedom, dignity, and social justice. However, the Moroccan government has not yet met the demands of the people, but rather has been increasing its repression.
“March for Justice” Ends in Istanbul With a Pointed Challenge to Erdogan, by Carlotta Gall On 9 July, the three-week March for Justice from Ankara to Istanbul ended. The march was organized by politicians from Turkey’s opposition party, the Republican People’s Party (also known as C.H.P.) to protest the government repression against its opponents, and calling for justice. There was an emphasis on the peaceful nature of the protest, which was the largest sign of opposition since the failed coup last July.
Battle Over the Nile, by Heba Afify President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has initiated a “large-scale national campaign to retrieve illegally occupied state land.” One of the targets of this campaign has been Warraq Island, one of dozens of inhabited islands in the Nile. The residents of Warraq Island have been protesting the demolition of their houses on the island.
Egyptian Activists Face Mounting Repression, While “Thieves” Walk Free, by Sarah Freeman-Woolpert Arrests, detention, freezing of assets, and trials for charges related to participation in anti-government protests are some of the tactics used by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s regime to suppress criticism and dissent. Yet, this repression can backfire: it can reduce the regime’s legitimacy and lay the ground for another wave of activism in Egypt.
The Legacy of the Algerian Civil War: Forced Disappearances and the Cost of Amnesty, by Sofian Philip Naceur During the war of the 1990s, thousands of people were murdered or forcibly disappeared in Algeria. Until today, “Algerian authorities consistently neglect the demands of the families of the disappeared, refuse to acknowledge the magnitude of the crimes committed by the state, and instead praise their approach to end the conflict. Unsurprisingly, many of those families oppose the amnesty measures that relegate their quest for justice to the shadows, calling for rallies every year on September 29.” Yet, the government maintains an ambivalent approach toward the families of the disappeared. One the one hand, the protests are dispersed and activities are monitored; but on the other hand authorities refrain from closing down offices and pressing official charged after arrests.
Is There Any Point to Protesting?, by Nathan Heller The author discusses the aim and effectiveness of protesting by looking back at the outcomes of various social movements, such as Occupy Wall Street, the “Arab uprisings” and the Black Lives Matter, and providing a review of four recently published books: Inventing the Future by Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams (2016, Verso), Assembly by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri (2017, Oxford University Press), Direct Action: Protest and the Reinvention of American Radicalism, by L.A. Kauffman (2017, Verso), and Zeynep Tufeksci’s Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest (2017, Yale University Press).
Art The Palestinian Museum’s Inaugural Exhibition: Jerusalem Lives On 26 August, the Palestinian Museum launched its inaugural exhibition with a highly political project focusing on the living aspects of the city and support its people. According to the curator Reem Fadda, the exhibition is meant to spark discussion of “cultural resistance” to the policies of Israel.
Rights Organizations Rally to Reveal Fate of Syria’s Disappeared, by Florence Massena According to the Syrian Network for Human Rights, more than 75 thousand people have disappeared in Syria since 2011. Amnesty International started a campaign on 30 August, the International Day of the Disappeared, with the aim to push the authorities and armed groups to reveal the status of the disappeared to their families. The human rights group organized a weeklong exhibition at cultural space Station Beirut to remember Syria's missing and disappeared. The exhibition, titled “Tens of Thousands,” shows poems written by detainees and portraits of prisoners by Syrian artist Azza Abou Rebieh.
Beyond Protest Art: A New Wave of Graffiti Is Coloring the Arab World, by Zvi Bar’el In various cities around the Arab world, there have been art initiatives that aim to beautify neighborhoods, give a sense of belonging and overcome social and political divides. The article refers to examples in Beirut (e.g. the Ouzville project), Dubai (e.g. Dubai Walls), and Djerba. However, this type of graffiti seem to contradict protest graffiti that was prominent on the walls of the Middle East during the Arab uprisings.