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Arab Studies Journal Announces Spring 2017 Issue: Editor's Note and Table of Contents

Arab Studies Journal Volume XXV, no. 1 (Spring 2017) EDITOR'S NOTE Since the November 2016 elections, the dying gasps of US exceptionalism has meant the intensification of attacks on the lives and movement of people from the Arab ...

[Cover of Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi, Foucault in Iran: Islamic Revolution after the Enlightenment]

Foucault, the Iranian Revolution, and the Politics of Collective Action

Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi, Foucault in Iran: Islamic Revolution after the Enlightenment. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2016. [This is part five of a book symposium on Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi's Foucault in Iran: Islamic ...

[Helen Zughaib's Syrian Migration series #2 (2017). Image copyright the artist]

April Culture

The great American Pop artist James Rosenquist (who died on 31 March) once said "History is remembered by its art, not its war machines." With this in mind, Jadaliyya's Culture Bouquet returns with new art reviews, ...

[Left to right: Brian Edwards and Bassam Haddad.]

Bassam Haddad and Brian Edwards Discuss Middle East Studies and Public Scholarship

This conversation between Bassam Haddad of George Mason University and Brian Edwards of Northwestern University addresses the role of public scholarship and its relation to print publication within the climate of Middle East Studies. The ...


Gynecology, Honor, and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon

[Lead Investigator of the STL D.A Bellmare: Image from Unknown Archive, Female Reproductive System: McGraw Hill Companies]

Last week Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah gave a speech on honor. However, this speech was not about the honor of resisting occupation or the honor of the Palestinian cause. The Sayyed’s speech, rather, focused on how the Special Tribunal For Lebanon had threatened the honor of Lebanese citizens by requesting gynecological files from a women’s clinic in the southern suburbs of Beirut. The day before, when the STL investigators arrived at the women’s health clinic, a group of women attacked them and confiscated one of their briefcases. Finally, the STL investigators retreated. Of course, when the Sayyed said that the honor of Lebanese citizens had been violated by the STL, he ...

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The Increasing Absurdity of the "Terrorism" Accusation . . . in Light of “Democracy” and Resistance

[Image from Unknown Archive]

The only thing more sickening than the United States cracking down on groups/human beings it does not like in the name of fighting terrorism is when Arab regimes do it. The same goes for Israel except that one should be increasingly prepared to expect literally anything, no matter how morally or politically reprehensible, from its governments. In any case, for those interested in the struggle for any number, or kind, of rights in the Arab world, that phony specter has come to reek of hypocrisy and imbecility. For at least three decades now, from Jordan to Egypt, and from Morocco to Bahrain, government crackdowns on dissent have run out of any semblance of excuse and are ...

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Aftermath . . . America's Wars in the Middle East (Part 1)

[Bombed building in Baghdad, 2003. Image from

In my new book “Aftermath: Following the Bloodshed of America’s Wars in the Muslim World,” I look at sectarianism, civil war, occupation, resistance, terrorism and counterinsurgency from Iraq to Lebanon to Afghanistan. While half of the book looks at how the civil war in Iraq began and how it came to an end, other chapters look at the Taliban, the American military in Afghanistan and the Afghan police. The two chapters I am proudest of however deal with Lebanon, where I lived with my wife and son during the period I reported from there. I found that while the country was oversaturated with journalists (both local and foreign) and during times of crisis even more ...

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Register: Exile + 1

[Image from guardian.co.uk]

The hallway felt increasingly smaller, tighter. Every minute drew in the baby blue trimmed walls closer to one another compressing me and my breath in between their administration. I tried to distract myself in David Harvey’s analysis of neoliberalism—yes uneven geographical development in China, Deng like Reagan like Thatcher...accumulation of wealth or was it capital accumulation or does he mean all out theft? The theories couldn’t embrace my imagination which fought against itself as it flew to the outer limits of a horizon of worst case scenarios whose farthest tip was etched with a merciless stamp weighed heavy by memories of present absentees and refugees lined up ...

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Collective Punishment or Not, Gaza Blockade Illegal (Part I)

Image of Palestinian boys protesting the blockade of Gaza, BBC

Israel’s blockade of Gaza is illegal irrespective of the manner in which it is imposed because a blockade is an act of war and an occupying power cannot declare war upon the territory it occupies. To do so would conflate the right to initiate war (jus ad bellum) with the laws of occupation (jus in bello) and render useless the distinction of the permissible use of force in each case. This analysis is different in kind from the one that characterizes the blockade as illegal for its contravention of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibiting collective punishment.    The prohibition on collective punishment stipulates that if indeed Israel is ...

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Choking Mecca in the Name of Beauty--and Development (Part I)

[Abraj Al Bait Towers from inside the Grand Mosque. Image from author's archive]

In the last decade, Mecca, Islam’s birthplace, has been the target of some of the world’s largest commercial development schemes. Over one hundred buildings are under construction around the Grand Mosque (Masjid al-Ḥarām) and will soon replace the historical, architectural and socioeconomic landscape of this rapidly developing city. Whole neighborhoods have been completely gutted out, their residents displaced to the outskirts of Mecca and other neighboring cities.[i] The once-heroic mountains on which they stood have been reduced to man-made craters, en route to being turned into the next largest shopping mall, hotel, or luxury residential building. Some have ...

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A Meditation on the Importance of the Perpetrator-Centered Perspective to Theorizing about Justice

[Image from Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal]

My research and writing tends to focus on gross injustices, specifically on gross crimes—war crimes, torture, crimes against humanity and genocide. The perpetration of most kinds of crimes—and certainly these—is, by definition, “legal injustice.” While we may quibble about and legitimately criticize various standards and models of criminal justice, when it comes to gross crimes, as I argue here, the prosecution of perpetrators is an essential if elusive means to produce “justice.” To tip my hand to where my argument is going, I advocate a “tough on crime” approach to gross crimes. By doing so, I attempt to link a progressive perspective on justice to an often reactionary ...

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حاضرون غائبون: الفلسطينيون في الداخل

[ يافا Image from unknown archive]

  حاضرون غائبون: الفلسطينيون في الداخل (١)  وكأن لون البحر اليافاوي انعكس في لون عينيه فازدادت زرقتهما زرقة. قطع عقده السادس واقترب من السابع وما زال يعمل في البناء ليؤمن لإبنه الأصغر الذي يدرس في جامعة تل أبيب جزء من تكاليف التعليم الباهظة. جامعة تل ابيب الواقعة في منطقة رمات افيف، الشيخ مونس. الشيخ مونس إسم محفور في ذاكرة أبو حسن ويذكره كلما ذكر  إسم الجامعة، حتى ليبدو وكأنه إسم مرادف لإسم الجامعة. أسماء وأسماء، بعضها محفور على اللافتات والبعض الآخر في الذاكرة. بين إسمين يعيش الفلسطينيون في الداخل. بين إسم كان وإسم أصبح لكل ما حولهم وفي وطنهم. يتذكر أبو حسن منطقة الشيخ مونس جيداً عندما كانت في غالبيتها أراض زراعية جاء للعمل بها في الخمسينيات وكان أغلب ...

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Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject

[Cover of Saba Mahmood,

Saba Mahmood, Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005. Much of the implicit political background—the staging-point—of Saba Mahmood’s highly acclaimed ethnography of the women’s mosque movement in Egypt, Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject, is laid out in the brief preface to the book. In a couple of pages, Mahmood discusses the sense of embattlement and alienation experienced by an entire generation of men and women on the secular left all over the Middle East in the face of the rising tide of neo-colonial and Islamist politics and policies of the 1970s and 1980s. The ...

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Guilty of Being Muslim: Review of “Entrapped”

[Image from Democracy Now!]

Review of "Entrapped" (Produced by Anjali Kamat and Jacquie Soohen) The new documentary “Entrapped,” which was aired as a special report by Democracy Now! on October 6 and is due to be released on DVD by Big Noise Films, is that rare documentary that not only informs us about an issue, but in doing so, actually transforms our understanding of this issue.   “Entrapped” is a thirty-five-minute documentary that encapsulates months of investigations and interviews by the filmmakers — Anjali Kamat, a producer at Democracy Now!, and Jacquie Soohen, a member of the Big Noise Films collective — involving cases of government surveillance aimed at Muslim ...

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Good Morning Palestine

Image From Unknown Source; A View From The South

For four days last week, I drank my morning coffee while gazing at Palestine. I was spending the weekend with friends at a house in a border village between Lebanon and what is now the State of Israel. Every morning, I walked from the bed I was sleeping in, to the kitchen to make a cup a coffee, then out onto the balcony where there was a cool breeze. The village is old, its remaining permanent inhabitants are mostly old, but its roads are new. The asphalt is still black in its newness, and its geometric shapes are drawn map like. It snakes through the landscape, cutting a path through the stone houses, the hills they border, the village square, until finally, the ...

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American Innocence and Its Victims (Part 2)

[Image from Granta.com]

[See Part 1 here]   For a literary editor, Chotiner is quite selective in his application of interpretative skills. When the Granta contributors touch on what we are already programmed to understand as the ills of Pakistani society—misogyny, for example, or religious fundamentalism—he is fully prepared to accept this as a transparent rendering of “the crueler, more vicious aspects of Pakistani society.” When the same writers represent the widespread discontent with the role played by U.S. foreign policy in fostering and maintaining this situation, however, this suddenly becomes their subjective “critique of American foreign policy.” He never actually dismisses this ...

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Aftermath . . . America's Wars in the Middle East (Part 2)

Over the years it seems like every time I visited Iraq I had to remove names of friends or contacts from my mobile phone because they were dead. Perhaps so death seemed as foretold as that of Abu Omar, an Awakening leader I met in Baghdad's Aadhamiya district in 2009. His predecessor (also called Abu Omar) was killed by a suicide bomber. When I first met Abu Omar he seemed confident and marched around like the local warlord that he was. In February of 2010 I had to meet him in hiding, his son sneaking me ...

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The Politics of Reconciliation: Secularism and Tolerance

Looking at recent events in Iran, we may contrast the predominant views of Green Movement activists participating inside Iran and the attitudes of many Iranians observing these events from abroad. Iranians inside Iran show no strong interest in defining the movement in totalizing terms as either Islamic or secular, and nor do they oppose the movement to secularism or Islam. By contrast, many Iranian intellectuals and activists outside of Iran (and other interested intellectuals) are visibly eager to ...

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Present Absent: Palestinians in Israel (Part 1)

The color of the Jaffa sea was reflected in his blue eyes so that they were even bluer. He had six decades behind him and was in his seventh, but was still laboring as a construction worker in order to pay for his youngest son's tuition at Tel-Aviv University. The campus of Tel-Aviv university is in the Ramat Aviv area or, as he calls it, Al-Shaykh Mwannis. Al-Shaykh Mwannis is a name engraved in Abu Hasan's memory. Whenever he mentions the university's name he mentions it, as if it were a synonym. So ...

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Reporting From Guantanamo: The Prison Tour (Photos)

Twenty-five journalists flew on a chartered plane down to Guantánamo Bay on October 22, 2010, to report on the case of Omar Khadr, the Canadian 24-year-old who has been in US custody for one-third of his life. We would have been on the island (Cuba) a week earlier but for a sudden change of plan—again. The original original plan, let’s call it Khadr Trial 1.0, had a start date of August 12, and indeed the trial did start on that day. But at 4:00 p.m., Khadr’s military defense lawyer, Lt. Col. Jon ...

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Beyond Ghailani: The Implications of Kaplan’s Ruling for Ahmed Abu Ali’s Case

At one level, Judge Lewis Kaplan’s decision, to render coercively procured evidence inadmissible in courts, can be read as unremarkable. After all, the ruling naturally extends from the fifth-amendment right that protects against self-incrimination. Public responses to Kaplan’s ruling, however, suggest otherwise; the decision seems to have come as a surprise to folks on all sides of the political spectrum, suggesting that many have become accustomed to the idea that terrorism-related issues elicit ...

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Two Poems by Sargon Boulus

Railroad    The glass of the subway windows is foggy. Shapes escape across it, as if from a demon, and are sorted out behind us as “bygones.”   The shrieking of the wheels on the rail. The appearance of the next station, at the bend of a tunnel full of wailing. A few vagabonds on the platform gulping alcohol from bottles hidden in paper bags.   It is the same void rising from night’s end in any city overstuffed with the living and the dead: Paris, Berlin, London, ...

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Apologizing for Human Experimentation: Not Finished Yet

On October 1, 2010, President Barack Obama issued an official apology for secret US medical experiments in the 1940s in which 696 Guatemalan prisoners were infected with syphilis and gonorrhea to test the effectiveness of penicillin. The objective of these experiments, according to Susan Reverby, the Wellesley College medical historian who uncovered documents about this study, was to keep American soldiers safe from sexually transmitted diseases. In a joint statement, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham ...

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Three Poems by Saadi Youssef

Fulfillment I used to, I often used to hope as autumn painted forests with gold walnut brown or muted crimson, I so hoped to see Iraq’s face in the morning to loosen water’s braids over me, to satisfy its mermaids with salty tears, to float over Abu l-Khaseeb’s rivulets to ask the trees: Do you, trees, know where my father’s grave is? . . . I often used to hope! Let it be . Let autumn finish its cycle. Iraq’s trees will remain naked. Iraq’s trees will remain high. Iraq’s ...

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The Predicament of Independent Opposition (Part 4-Final)

In the first three posts (1, 2, 3), I discussed two significant liberalization phases and the succession struggle/period. As promised, this is the last post where I discuss the most recent phase of liberalization as a detour into the structural limitations of change and the predicament of independent opposition. Since the adoption of the “Social Market Economy” at the 10th Ba`thist Regional Command Conference in 2005, the economic “face” of Syria has begun to change decisively, no matter what observers, ...

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"The Corpse" by Sargon Boulus

They tortured the corpse until dawn broke down and the rooster rose up in protest. They thrust nails in its flesh. They whipped it with electric cables. They dangled it from the ceiling fan.   When the torturers were finally tired and took a break, the corpse moved its little finger, opened its wounded eyes, and muttered something.   Was it asking for water? Did it perhaps ask for bread? Was it cursing them or asking for more?  

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The Egyptian Regime's Crack Down On The Media Is Much More Than What You Think

   ما يحدث الآن في مصر يتجاوز إشكالية التضييق على الإعلام بمراحل حملت الأسابيع القليلة الماضية العديد من نذر الشؤم التي تؤكد أن مساحة التعبير السياسي المستقل في مصر تدخل الآن مرحلة مقلقة للغاية. جاءنا النذير الأول عندما أكدت أحزاب المعارضة عزمها على المشاركة في الانتخابات المقبلة، وهو ما يعني المشاركة في مسرحية هزلية ومزورة بشكل غير مسبوق، وفي ذلك من تزوير للوعي كان يجب على أمثالهم التعفف عنه. وجاء النذير الثاني عندما باع <<عصام إسماعيل فهمي>> صحيفة <<الدستور>> ...

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Firing Ibrahim Eissa From Al-Dostour Exposes The Reality Of The Wafd's New President

وأخيرا خلع السيد البدوي برقع الحياء بفصله إبراهيم عيسى وطاقمه من الدستور   وحدث ما كنا نتخوف منه ونتوجس حدوثه. فقد أقال بالفعل مجلس إدارة صحيفة الدستور إبراهيم عيسى من رئاسة تحرير الجريدة أمس، ووقع القرار كلامن رئيس مجلس إدارة الجريدة د. السيد البدوي (رجل الأعمال المعروف ورئيس حزب الوفد الذي يتم تلميعه منذ شهور) والرئيس التنفيذي لمجلس الإدارة رضا إدوارد (وهو وعضو الهيئة العليا لحزب الوفد أيضا). وواجه صحفيو الدستور ذلك القرار على الفور باعتصام مفتوح بمقر الجريدة (بعد ساعات من صدور القرار)، وهو ...

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