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Joel Beinin

Jadaliyya Contributor

New Texts Out Now: Joel Beinin, Workers and Thieves: Labor Movements and Popular Uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt

[Cover of Joel Beinin,

Joel Beinin, Workers and Thieves: Labor Movements and Popular Uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2015. Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book? Joel Beinin (JB): I lived in Cairo for most of the time between September 2004 and December 2008. During this period, the wave of strikes and collective actions by Egyptian workers escalated dramatically. Workers invited me to visit factories and other workplaces where strikes were underway ...

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Can Arabs Be Human Rights Defenders?

[10 October 2009, portrait of Andrei Sakharov by Dmitry Vrubel. East Side gallery, Berlin, Germany. Photo by Ana Raquel S. Hernandes via Flickr]

In September the Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL), a caucus of fifty-two members of the European parliament from nineteen political delegations and fourteen countries, nominated Mouad Belghouate, Ala Yaacoubi, and Alaa Abdel Fattah to receive the Sakharov Prize. The award, named after the late Soviet physicist and human rights activist Andrei Sakharov, was established by the European Parliament in 1988 to honor individuals and groups ...

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Racism is the Foundation of Israel's Operation Protective Edge

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On 30 June Ayelet Shaked, chairwoman of the Knesset faction of the ultra-right wing ha-Bayit ha-Yehudi (Jewish Home) Party, a key member of the coalition government led by Prime Minister Netanyahu, posted on her Facebook page a previously unpublished article written by the late Uri Elitzur. Elitzur, a pro-settler journalist and former chief-of-staff to Netanyahu, wrote: Behind every terrorist stand dozens of men and women, without whom he could not engage in ...

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On Revolutions and Defeated Revolutionary Movements: A Reply to Brecht De Smet

[6 May 2011, graffiti in Mohammed Mahmoud Street, Cairo, Egypt. Image originally post to Flickr by Hossam el-Hamalawy.]

I thank Becht De Smet for replying to my critique of his “Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Egypt.”  Theoretical debates seeking to evaluate the applicability of general social science concepts to Middle East studies are all too rare.  Engaging in them de-exceptionalizes the region and may help make it legible to a broad intellectual audience beyond the ranks of specialists.  For that reason it is important to clarify that De Smet and I do not disagree at ...

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History and Consequences

[Graffiti in Arabic reads:

Brecht De Smet begins his recent article on “Revolution and Counter Revolution in Egypt” by demurring from my statement on Jadaliyya on the occasion of the second anniversary of the 25 January 2011 Egyptian popular uprising that, “The January 25 Revolution is not over.  Rather, it has not yet occurred.” De Smet does not, in fact, disagree with the substance of my judgment about the balance of political forces in Egypt. Neither of us believes that Egypt has experienced a ...

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New Texts Out Now: Joel Beinin, Mixing, Separation, and Violence in Urban Spaces and the Rural Frontier in Palestine

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Joel Beinin, “Mixing, Separation, and Violence in Urban Spaces and the Rural Frontier in Palestine.” Arab Studies Journal Vol. XXI No. 1 (Spring 2013). Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this article? Joel Beinin (JB): It grew out of a conference on late Ottoman Palestine at the University of Lausanne. I was invited to make a link between the democratic possibilities opened by the 1908 Young Turk Revolution and the state of affairs one hundred years later. We tend to think ...

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Was There A January 25 Revolution?

[Textile workers rounded up by Egyptian police and troops squat outside the Misr spinning factory at Kafr el-Dawar, Egypt on 21 August 1952, following rioting there in which nine people, including a policeman and two soldiers, were killed. Photo Source: AP]

The “January 25 Revolution” has already taken its place in Egyptian national historical memory along with the “1919 Revolution” and the “July 23 Revolution.” Assigning dates to these events, whose significance in the modern history of Egypt is undeniable, is perhaps a necessary convenience. Calling them all “revolutions” emphasizes their popular character and, at least in 1919 and 2011, the political mobilization of large parts of the nation. However, this form of dating and ...

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In Search of a New Political Language

[Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi announced Egypt's president. Image originally posted to Flickr by Johnathan Rashad.]

In the first round of the 2012 presidential election, more than thirty-nine percent of Egyptians voted for candidates representing neither the Muslim Brotherhood nor former President Hosni Mubarak's regime. The combined vote of Hamdeen Sabbahi and Abdel Moneim Abouel Fotouh, the biggest winners in this category, together with those of leftist candidates Khaled Ali and Abul Ezz al-Hariry, is substantially more than those who voted for Mohamed Morsy or for both Ahmed Shafiq ...

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Revolution and Repression on the Banks of the Suez Canal

[Suez Canal c. 19th century. Image from]

Many people in Suez proudly claim that they initiated Egypt’s “January 25 Revolution.” There were several demonstrations in opposition to Gamal Mubarak inheriting the presidency from his father as early as July 2010. Relations between the police and the people were tense after a police general was assassinated on November 29, 2010. On January 25, when protests in Cairo and Alexandria were relatively peaceful, the demonstration in Suez was particularly ...

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Egypt: The Struggle Continues

[Protests in Tahrir Square. Image from]

Thousands of demonstrators filled expressing anger and determination rallied in Tahrir Square on Friday, July 1. Sharp clashes between youth on the one hand and police and regime thugs on the other on Tuesday and Wednesday June 28 and 29 were the immediate impetus for the demonstration. But in addition to outrage about police brutality, which most Egyptians had hoped was a thing of the past, there is growing dissatisfaction with the limited changes since the fall ...

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The Voice Is Obama's; The Hands are Bush's

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President Obama’s June 2009 speech in Cairo was widely received as a sincere expression of his desire for a “new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world.” He acknowledged the historic injuries of colonialism, quoted the Qur’anic injunction to “speak always the truth,” recognized the plight of the Palestinian refugees, allowed for the possibility of Hamas participating in realizing the aspirations of the Palestinian people, and clearly called for a ...

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A Day in the Wilderness of Judea

Photo: Keren Manor/

Let’s say that you have a plot of land in Germany, and you don’t work it. Someone else does. You don’t pay attention because you aren’t using it. Then you return and claim the land. When the German legal authorities look into it they will say it is no longer your land. It belongs to the one who worked the land for ten years.    This is how Yochanan, a resident of the unauthorized “outpost” of Mitzpe Ya’ir explains why he has the right ...

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The Problem is the Israeli Occupation: al-Nabi Saleh

[Halamish on the hillside across Road 465 in the background. Photo: Anne Paq/

Early in the morning a car packed with Israelis and internationals leaves Tel-Aviv for al-Nabi Saleh, a small village about 30 kilometers northeast of Ramallah in the central West Bank. Our objective is to observe and participate in the weekly Friday demonstration in the village. We leave very early because Israeli military forces have been sealing off all the entrances to al-Nabi Saleh by 9:30 am, hours before the demonstration begins. The occupation forces ...

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Joel Beinin


Joel Beinin is the Donald J. McLachlan Professor of History and Professor of Middle East History at Stanford University. From 2006 to 2008 he served as Director of Middle East Studies and Professor of History at the American University in Cairo. In 2001-02 he served as president of the Middle East Studies Association of North America. He has been associated with the Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP) since 1980, serving as an editor and contributing editor of Middle East Report. His research and writing focus on modern and contemporary Egypt, Israel, Palestine, the Arab-Israeli conflict, political Islam, and US policy in the Middle East. His books include, most recently, Workers and Thieves: Labor Movements and Popular Uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt (Stanford, 2015); Social Movements, Mobilization, and Contestation in the Middle East and North Africa, second edition (Stanford, 2013), co-edited with Frédéric Vairel; The Struggle for Worker Rights in Egypt (Solidarity Center, 2010); and Workers and Peasants in the Modern Middle East (Cambridge, 2001). His articles have been published in leading scholarly journals as well as The NationLe Monde Diplomatique, Middle East ReportThe Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco ChronicleThe San Jose Mercury News, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Jordan TimesAsia Times, and several blogs. He has appeared on Al-Jazeera TV, BBC radio, (US) National Public Radio, and many other television and radio programs throughout the world, and he has given frequent interviews to the global print media.