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Essential Readings

Essential Readings: The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood

[In this 16 January 2010 picture, Muslim Brotherhood former supreme guide Mohammed Mahdi Akef (left) and senior member Essam al-Erian (second left) gesture during a press conference in Cairo Egypt under a billboard showing the group's founder Hassan al-Banna (top right) and its supreme guides. Arabic reads “The Muslim Brotherhood.” Image by Amr Nabil via Associated Press.]

For all the press attention it has received over the last two decades and especially since the 25 January uprising that overthrew Egypt’s longstanding ruler, there has been comparatively little rigorous scholarship on the Society of the Muslim Brothers of Egypt. This is partly a consequence of the fact that the research of historians and political scientists who specialize in the Middle East has tended to be state-centric in the examination of forces that shaped modern societies in the region. Independent social actors have been given comparatively limited agency in these analyses, due in part to the fact that movements like the Muslim Brotherhood do not lend themselves ...

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Essential Readings: Iran

[Image by Farhad Rajabali]

In recent years, there has been a deluge of popular English-language writings by Iranians in exile, as well as hand-wringing public policy books by U.S.-based think tank pundits, all insisting on the same basic message: Iran represents a geo-political problem of unparalleled importance. While the stated goal of these books and organizations is to educate the English-reading global public about Iran, very often the message comes laced with support for militarily enforced regime change and full-scale neo-liberalization. Case in point: the mission statement of the Iran Democracy Project, a well-established California-based think tank, claims that its “central goal is to ...

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Review Roundtable Part I: Goldstone and International Law

The Goldstone Report gained its prominence because of its UN auspices and the high credibility of Richard Goldstone as the Chair of the Fact Finding Mission appointed by the Human Rights Council. Other reputable inquiries (John Dugard’s parallel mission set up by the Arab League, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch), aside from a host of journalistic and credible eyewitness accounts, converged on the overall criminality under international law of Operation Cast Lead. The video reports, together with the 100:1 casualty ratio, reinforced this impression, which has since been further validated by the testimony of IDF soldiers, diaries of persons living in Gaza at the ...

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Review Roundtable Part III: Goldstone in Political Context

The political dymamics surrounding the report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (commonly known as the Goldstone Report) provide a number of interesting insights into the recent evolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It bears recollection that the report was produced during a period when the Palestinian leadership was engaged in what has been characterized as serious permanent status negotiations with Israel. Yet the vast majority of Palestinians seemed more interested in the deliberations of Judge Richard Goldstone than those of President Mahmoud Abbas. This reflected more than widespread Palestinian indifference to diplomacy ...

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Roundup on the Goldstone Controversy

[Justice Richard Goldstone. Image from Getty Images.]

While the impact of Justice Goldstone’s op-ed on accountability and justice remains to be seen, one thing has already been made clear: his contentious and vague editorial has worked to place Israel’s Winter 2008/09 offensive back on center stage. Like Israel’s fatal attack on the Mavi Marmara in May 2010 that inspired heated debate on the legality of Israel’s Gaza blockade, Goldstone’s editorial has produced a watershed of commentary on Gaza’s ongoing submission to a debilitating blockade and the escalating drumbeats of a renewed Israeli attack on the 360 square mile Strip. Significantly, this media cycle has been just as intrigued by the editorial’s implications as ...

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Essential Readings: Counterinsurgency

[U.S. Army Maj. Robert Holbert takes notes and drinks tea with local school administrators during a cordon and search of Nani, Afghanistan in June 2007. Image by Staff Sgt. Michael L. Casteel, U.S. Army.]

This Essential Readings post is written by Laleh Khalili. [Editors' Note: This is the second in a series of "Essential Readings,"  in which we ask contributors to choose a list of must-read books, articles, and new media sources on a variety of topics. These are not meant to be comprehensive lists, but rather starting points for readers who want to read more about particular topics.

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Essential Readings: Reading Lebanon

My dissertation studies intersections and impasses between law and citizenship in Lebanon. I do so through examining two phenomena, activism for a secular personal status and/or civil marriage law, and conversion between sects and/or religions in order to make use of different personal status laws—a practice I call “strategic conversion.” Because of this emphasis on law and citizenship, my project is in conversation with literature on secularism and religion, the relationship between law, the state, and ...

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Jadaliyya Review Roundtable on "The Goldstone Report: The Legacy of the Landmark Investigation of the Gaza Conflict"

“Reports come and go. This is one of the tragic truths of the literature of human rights violations. Hard-working researchers scour the rubble of war zones for fragments of evidence — of war crimes, crimes against humanity, other violations of life and freedom — only to watch their findings sink into the oblivion of forgotten documents.” So begins the editors’ note to the collection The Goldstone Report: The Legacy of the Landmark Investigation of the Gaza Conflict, edited by Adam Horowitz, Lizzy Ratner, ...

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Review Roundtable Part II: Goldstone and Accountability

On December 27, 2008, Israel began aerial strikes on the Gaza Strip, home to 1.5 million Palestinians, three-quarters of whom are refugees, who could not, because of Gaza’s sealed borders, become refugees of war. Within a week, amidst the rubble of hospitals, mosques, government ministries, factories, and schools, Israel initiated a ground offensive that no more distinguished between civilians and combatants than did its “smart” bombs. On the fourteenth day of the offensive, in the run up to a buoyant ...

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Essential Readings: Reading Pakistan

Here are the stripped down facts: Pakistan is roughly 165 million people. Most of us are young: 69 percent of the population is under age 30. And we’re poor. Almost a quarter of the people here live below the poverty line. As I write, the quarter-finals for the cricket world cup are underway. Pakistan’s unpredictable and occasionally magnificent team is playing the West Indies. The sport, which was a kind of civilizing project to teach Victorian mores, has become a national obsession.   Beyond ...

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Essential Readings: Bahrain: Origins of a Crisis

This Essential Readings post is written by Sandy Russell Jones. [Editors' Note: This is the third in a series of "Essential Readings," in which we ask contributors to choose a list of must-read books, articles, and new media sources on a variety of topics. These are not meant to be comprehensive lists, but rather starting points for readers who want to read more about particular topics.   Sandy Russell Jones, a Fellow at the Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis and a lecturer in ...

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Essential Reading: State Building and Regime Security in Jordan

[Editors’ Note: This is the first in a series of “Essential Readings,” in which we ask contributors to choose a list of must-read books, articles, and new media resources on a variety of topics. These are not meant to be comprehensive lists, but rather starting points for readers who want to read more about particular topics. Ziad Abu-Rish, a Co-Editor of Jadaliyya, provides a list of readings focusing on state building and regime security in Jordan. Some of Abu-Rish’s own writing on Jordan can be found ...

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