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DARS Media Roundup (March-April 2017)

[Protest in support of hunger-striking prisoners, Megiddo prison, Israel, 24 April 2017. Image by Activestills, via Flickr] [Protest in support of hunger-striking prisoners, Megiddo prison, Israel, 24 April 2017. Image by Activestills, via Flickr]

[This is a bi-monthly roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on Resistance and Subversion in the Arab world and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the DARS Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each monthly roundup to DARS@jadaliyya.com.]     

News & Comments

Why We Are on Hunger Strike in Israel’s Prisons, by Marwan Barghouti
In his op-ed article in the New York Times, jailed Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti, described the daily struggle of Palestinian prisoners. He explained the reasons that led to the hunger strike that Palestinian prisoners started, and what their demands are. Barghouti accused Israel of conducting "mass arbitrary arrests and ill-treatment of Palestinian prisoners," and wrote that a hunger strike is "the most peaceful form of resistance available" against these abuses.

Palestinian Prisoners Enter 20th Day of Hunger Strike, by Ma’an News Agency

Some one thousand and six hundred Palestinian prisoners entered their 20th day of a mass hunger strike demanding humane treatment in Israeli prisons and an end to Israel's policy of imprisoning Palestinians without charge or trial, as more Palestinian prisoners have joined the strike amid an ongoing crackdown by the Israel Prison Service (IPS) on the hunger strikers.

Hunger Strikes Highlight Isolation of Palestinian Prisoners, by Omar Shakir
Human Rights Watch’s Israel and Palestine Director, Omar Shakir, reports on Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike.

The “Beautiful Resistance” of Aida Camp, by International Solidarity Movement
Dr. Adbelfattah Abusrour is the founder of the non-profit Alrowwad, an “independent, dynamic, community-based” bastion of culture and empowerment in Aida camp. He describes the organization’s vision for the people of Aida camp: “We believe it is important to introduce creative elements for the children. Games, theater, photography, painting. I call this beautiful resistance.”

Why Support for Syria’s Nonviolent Fighters Is Key to Ending the War, by Maria J. Stephan
There have been multiple analyses of why the nonviolent resistance in Syria failed to achieve its ultimate goal — the removal of the Assad regime — before the onset of civil war. Although historically nonviolent campaigns have been twice as effective against violent campaigns in removing central governments, Syria was a tough test case for nonviolent resistance. 

Saudi Women in Silent Walking Protest Over Right to Drive in the Kingdom, by Rachel Roberts
Women campaigners in Saudi Arabia have filmed themselves silently walking in the street without male companions as part of their fight for the right to drive. The campaign is part of a growing protest against sweeping restrictions which prevent women from doing everyday activities unless they are accompanied by a male guardian. The silent footage of the women carries the hashtag #resistancebywalking on social media.

Protests in Egypt Following Government Decision to Cut Subsidized Bread Quotas, by The Middle East Media Research Institute
In March 2017, protests have erupted in Egypt following reports that the government has decided to cut the daily quota of subsidized bread from five loaves per capita to only three loaves, due to the deep economic crisis the country is suffering.

Supply Ministry Rescinds Cuts in Bread Subsidies Following Protests, by Mada Masr
Egypt’s Supply Minister Ali Meselhy announced during a press conference on 7 March, that the Supply Ministry would rescind the planned reduction in the quota of subsidized bread allocated to those without subsidy smart cards. The press conference came after protests erupted in several governorates in reaction to the proposed subsidy cuts. 

Egypt’s Coming Revolt of the Poor, by Zeinab Abul-Magd
The bread riots are symptoms of a crisis tracing back to last November, when the International Monetary Fund approved a loan of twelve billion US dollars to Sisi’s regime. The loan agreement requires Egypt to fix its chronic budget deficit through substantial cuts in subsidies and other forms of public spending. The agreement also necessitates steps to encourage the private sector to boost job creation and growth. But the Egyptian army has used the agreement to punish the lower classes while maximizing its commercial gains.

Between Repression and Resistance: Egyptian Workers’ Struggles, by Mostafa Bassiouny and Anne Alexander
The authors assess the current state of the Egyptian workers’ movement and the potential for its revival. They argue that the workers’ movement remains the most important potential location for effective popular resistance to the neoliberal policy agenda, reflecting organised workers’ capacity to paralyse sections of the economy and the state apparatus itself and the legacy of over a decade’s sustained experience in self-organisation. Despite the regime’s efforts to break this tradition, current levels of strike action and attempted strike action suggest that it has not succeeded.

A Profile of the Activist Outside His Prison, by Alaa Abd El-Fattah
Egyptian blogger and political activist Alaa Abd El-Fattah draws the “profile” of Egyptian civil rights defenders.

Internet Revolution Egypt Facebook Admin Released on Bail, by Mada Masr
Ahmed Abdel Naby, an administrator of the Internet Revolution Egypt Facebook page who was arrested in Alexandria after the page published documents detailing former government discussions to block and surveil VoIP services that allow users to make voice and video calls on the internet, was released on bail on 29 April. 

Egypt’s resilient and Evolving Social Activism, by Amr Hamzawy
With the decline of party politics in Egypt, social activism is becoming increasingly relevant in the fight against the government’s new authoritarian policies and tactics. While Egypt’s ruling generals have developed a tight grip on power in virtually every sector of society, various activist groups have had at least some success in holding the government accountable for human rights abuses. It will take many more victories to counteract the entrenched repression, but these groups offer the best hope for changing Egypt’s current reality.

Thousands of Yemenis Rally in Sanaa on War’s Second Anniversary, by Reuters
Thousands of Yemenis packed a square in the capital Sanaa on 26 March on the second anniversary of a war that has claimed the lives of more than ten thousand people and pushed the impoverished country to the brink of famine. It was the biggest gathering since a Saudi-led coalition of Arab states entered the conflict in 2015 to try to restore President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to power after he was ousted from Sanaa by the Iran-aligned Houthis.

 

“The Oppression Is Brutal:” Morocco Breaks Up Western Sahara Protest Ahead of UN Talks, by Mohamed Samid Ould Brahim
Moroccan police forcibly broke up a pro-independence demonstration in El-Aaiun on 15 April, beating dozens of activists. Saharawi demonstrators from all walks of life took to the streets to protest occupation and demonstrate solidarity with political prisoners languishing in Moroccan jails. Protest is a permanent feature of Saharawi life, taking place despite constant police siege and an embargo imposed on all activity advocating independence and the respect of Saharawi rights. Saharawis cling to peaceful demonstrations as a tool to raise awareness about their plight and the endless quest to bring justice to the people of Western Sahara.

Hundreds Protest in Beirut Against Lebanon Tax Hike, by Middle East Monitor
On 19 March, hundreds of people protested in central Beirut against proposed tax rises that the Lebanese parliament is considering to fund a new wage increase for public employees.

Environmental Justice Atlas
The environmental justice atlas project documents and catalogues social conflict around environmental issues around the world, including the Middle East. 

Art

Mohammad Sabaaneh’s Dangerous Cartoons, by Marguerite Dabaie
White and Black: Political Cartoons from Palestine, published by Just World Books, offers a rare opportunity for English-language readers to become familiar with Mohammad Sabaaneh’s stark black and white images, printed in newspapers across the Arab world. These political cartoons are foremost a form of solidarity with ordinary Palestinians in their daily struggle for survival and ongoing battle for justice.

The Walled-Off Hotel Controversy: How Banksy Universalizes the Palestinian Struggle, by Jamil Khader
The author provides an analysis of Banksy’s newest installation in Bethlehem, that has sparked controversy. Khader argues that the new installation-hotel is a powerful anti-colonial statement about British colonial history, Zionist settler colonialism, Israeli occupation and apartheid politics in Palestine. It exposes, subverts and lampoons the naïve international liberal fantasy frame, through which many Western tourists to the region view the Palestinian struggle for freedom. 

Events & Conferences

#Keffiyeh Day – 11 May 2017
World Keffiyeh Day was thought up by a Palestinian student who wanted to use what is considered the most iconic symbol of Palestine, the Keffiyeh, as a visual means to raise awareness about the Palestinian cause and their right to justice and dignity. With the strong backing of Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) – a student-run organization at Concordia University – Montreal, Canada, World Keffiyeh Day was established.

A Century of Youth Engaging Politics in the Arab World Conference, 16–19 May 2017, University of Manitoba, Manitoba, Canada. 

Empire, Capital, and Translational Resistance Conference, 13–15 September 2017, University of Brighton, UK. 

Rethinking Pacifism for Revolution, Security, and Politics Conference, 22–24 November 2017, University of Otago, New Zealand. 

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