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إسرائيل الثقافة نوشيروان مصطفى: تاريخ مكتوب بدماء The Master Plans of Baghdad: Notes on GIS-Based Spatial History رسالة إلى كامو Media on Media Roundup

New Texts Out Now: Sami Hermez, War is Coming: Between Past and Future Violence in Lebanon

Sami Hermez, War is Coming: Between Past and Future Violence in Lebanon. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017. Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book? Sami Hermez (SH): I wrote this book because I felt there was a ...

[Image from Wikipedia.]

Yemen's War [Ongoing Post]

[This is an ongoing post that will be updated regularly. It was first published on 6 December 2016. The updates appear at the bottom.] The conflict in Yemen seems set to intensify as 2016 draws to a close. The deposed president Abd ...

[نوشيروان مصطفى. الصورة من ويكيبيديا]

نوشيروان مصطفى: تاريخ مكتوب بدماء الضحايا

مات نوشيروان مصطفى (١٩٤٤-٢٠١٧) الذي كان نائباً للسكرتير العام للاتحاد الوطني الكردستاني، ومن ثم أسّس حركة التغيير «گوران». وبموته تطوى صفحة أخرى من صفحات الجريمة التي كتبت بدماء الضحايا، فكانت عرضة للتجاهل والنسيان!  موته يفضح دنس ...

[A Painting by the Iraqi Artist Ahmad al-Soudani]

When I Failed to Say Farewell to You…

It was winter and my Berlin nights were crowded with people yet full of loneliness. I don’t know what year it was. Maybe 2008. I was working as a journalist and producer for a German television station in Berlin.  My schedule used to ...

Football and Violence in Jordan

[From left to right: logos of the al-Faysali and al-Wihdat teams. Image from]

On Friday December 10, 2010, Jordanian and international media reported on “clashes” after a football match between two teams that make up the biggest rivalry in the Jordanian Football Association (JFA): al-Faysali and al-Wihdat, both of which serve as the main recruiting pools for Jordan’s national team. Popular support for each of the teams is at least as indicative of political allegiances as it is of football appreciation. The al-Faysali team has popularly come to represent Jordanians of East Bank origin while the al-Wihdat team has similarly come to represent Jordanians of Palestinian origin (also known as Jordanians of West Bank). While the incident itself speaks ...

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Entrapping American Muslims

[Image from Beyond the Curtain]

2010 will likely be remembered by American Muslims as the most challenging year since 2001.  While anti-Islamic rhetoric has been part of American culture for quite some time, this year brought a massive resurgence in Islamophobia.  Less than ten months before the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, civil rights for Muslims in America have perhaps never been in greater peril than they are now.  In addition to hate crimes like pipe bombs and arson at American mosques, recent revelations of FBI counter-terrorism “sting” operations that appear to discriminate against Muslim American communities is a cause for great concern.  After “stings” in Maryland ...

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Neoliberal Pregnancy and Zero-Sum Elitism in the Arab World (Part 4)

[Image from (oh yes)]

Implications of the New Nexus of Power This is the fourth and last installment in a series of posts on the new nexus of power in the Arab world, between the political and economic elite (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3). Alternatively, we can call it the new elitism, characterized by neoliberal political-economic features that pervade much of the rest of the world, including the global north. But there’s at least one serious difference: the new elitism in the developing world, and certainly in the Arab world, is emerging at the expense of the rest of society, with hardly any benefits to the overwhelming majority of concerned populations. While close observers are aware that ...

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The Modernization of Bribery: The Arms Trade in the Arab Gulf

[Image from]

The New York Hall of Science in Queens is currently showcasing “1,001 Inventions,” an exhibit documenting scientific advances made in the Islamic World while Europe was mired in the Dark Ages. The standards are all there – the advances in surgery, astronomy, and mathematics without which we might still be engaged in trepanation, the reading of animal entrails and addition by abacus. But there is another pioneering regional development not on display: the modernization of the ancient art of bribery. Predictably, this innovation involves the global arms market, which by all accounts is the source of more bribes than any other sector. And although most ...

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A Legal Guide to Being a Lebanese Woman, Part 2

[wedding rings. Image from unknown archive]

In Part 1 of A Legal Guide to Being a Lebanese Woman, I represented graphically a number of the laws that constitute Lebanese male and female citizens differently. I meant to show how the Lebanese legal system as a whole is built to produce categories of citizenship that are differentiated according to sex. In this post I build on this argument and question why religious personal status is often posited as the “problem” for women in countries where the secular state is just as, if not more, discriminatory. I illustrate this point with a comparison of how the Lebanese state differentiates between married and unmarried female citizens within particular laws.  Despite ...

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Neoliberal Pregnancy and Zero-Sum Elitism in the Arab World (Part 3)

[Image from]

This is the third and next to last entry in a series of posts on the emergence and consolidation of a new nexus of power between the political and economic elite across much of the Arab world (See Part 1, Part 2). This development extends far beyond the Middle East, influenced for the most part by the overlap of interests between global neoliberal economic policies/institutions and various manifestations of local power structures (primarily political and economic).[1] For instance, both international financial institutions and local elites after the 1980s were interested in having markets play a bigger role alongside the state—irrespective of the “democracy” ...

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عودة الروح لحديث المقاطعة الوهمي [The Return Of The Illusory Boycott Rhetoric In Egypt]

[نواب الإخوان يعترضون على تجديد قانون الطواريء في الدورة الماضية؛ لن تتكرر مثل هذه الفعاليات الاحتجاجية داخل البرلمان بعد إسقاط كل نواب الإخوان والمستقلين في الانتخابات الماضية-مصدر الصورة غير معروف]

تمر الساحة السياسية المصرية الآن بصدمة ما بعد الانتخابات، التي تتجلى في أشكال عدة وتفرض نفسها على كافة المستويات. فلأسباب لازلنا نجهلها شعر غالبية الناس بصدمة شديدة بسبب ما حدث من تزوير، وذلك على الرغم من ترقبهم مقدما لانتخابات مزورة بشكل غير مسبوق. فلم تزد نسبة الذين تطلعوا إلى انتخابات نزيهة عن ٥٪ في كافة استطلاعات الرأي التي أجريت قبل الانتخابات، لكننا رأينا كيف شاعت مقولات من نوع <<شفت اللي حصل>> في كل مكان لتعكس رد فعل مصدوم من تكرار نفس التزوير الذي ظل ينظم حياتنا السياسية على مدار ثلاثة عقود. وفرضت هذه الصدمة نفسها على المثقفين أيضا، فأنهكتهم في تحليل ما حدث من تزوير، وإذا بهم يتبارون في إعلان زوال شرعية النظام، ويختلفون حول تحديد سبل التعاطي مع ...

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The Story of Accountability So Far, At Home and Abroad: Time to Turn a New Page?

[Image from unknown archive]

The ACLU’s Supreme Court challenge to the lower court decision dismissing a lawsuit against Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen Data Plan Inc. (about Jeppesen’s complicity in extraordinary rendition) provides a welcome opportunity for several branches of the U.S. government to build a culture of responsibility, alongside private company Jeppesen, for actions undertaken in the “War on Terror”. The federal government could start to move towards accountability by refusing to intervene in the Supreme Court, as it did in the lower court, to argue that the case should be dismissed on “state secrets” grounds. The “state secrets” doctrine violates the separation of powers, ...

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Liberal Elite Discourse and the "Realities" of Jordan


For over a decade now, a diverse array of English-language publications have emerged in Jordan, which in turn have reflected and facilitated discussions amongst the country’s liberal elite circles. Despite a diversity of specializations as well as differences in readership, these publications, which include magazines and blogs, have coalesced around a dominant narrative about contemporary dynamics in Jordan. This narrative, which I refer to as the liberal elite discourse, positions Jordan (its government and society) as moving towards modernity through the implementation of neo-liberal economic reforms and the expansion of the parameters of permissible speech. In ...

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On Representational Paralysis, Or, Why I Don't Want to Write About Temporary Marriage

[Image from unknown archive]

For the past few years, I have been working with a colleague on a collaborative project about leisure in the southern suburb of Beirut. Along the way, there was a moment when we thought that new ideas about temporary marriage among Shi‘i Muslim youth would be a significant part of it. We eventually abandoned that possibility, for reasons that included changes in our primary interests and the difficulties of interviewing young people about what remains for the most part a socially stigmatized practice in Lebanon. But the most powerful reason impacting our decision to write less about temporary marriage has to do with our hesitance to contribute to an ...

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The American Granddaughter (A Review)

[Cover of the English version of The American Granddaughter, image from Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation website]

Many Iraqis returned to their country after the American invasion in 2003 as members of the entourage that accompanied the invading army and helped it administer its occupation. Some of them were translators recruited by companies back in the US where they were living either as refugees, residents, or Iraqi-American citizens. Some bought into the “liberation” narrative and believed they were helping the old country get back on its feet. Others were simply in it for the six-figure salary. Zina, the protagonist of In`am Kachachi’s second novel, al-Hafida al-Amrikiyya (Dar al-Jadid, 2008), short listed for the 2009 International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF or “The Arabic ...

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It Is Raining Documents, Hallelujah!

[Image from Pirhayati]

Today’s document dump of over 250,000 US diplomatic cables, courtesy of WikiLeaks, is like Santa Claus came early. These confidential cables were exchanged between 250 US embassies and the State Department, a handful dating back to the 1960s and 1970s but most from the last few years. They contain harsh and diplomatically embarrassing assessments of foreign leaders, information about diplomatic arm twisting and bargaining, and under-the-wire politics such as the request by the Saudi regime for the US to bomb Iran. Twitter is aflutter with links to various cables, and Facebook is flush with commentaries on the revelations. Good times! The readers of Jadaliyya might ...

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Divine Failure & A Letter to my Ancestor

Divine Failure He always sat in the front row in that divinity school in a faraway galaxy. He listened devoutly to the teacher and wrote every word that came out of his mouth. He was a diligent god who memorized all the secrets and tricks of creation by heart, but he lacked talent. And thus, when he was given all that space after graduation, he took a jab at creating the Sun, just as he’d learned in Genesis. But he created dead stars instead and dumped them into the garbage bin of eternity. After ...

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The Year in Torture

As 2010 winds to an end, it is time to reflect on the year in torture. Let’s review, shall we? January marked the end of Barack Obama’s first year in office; while the president may still be smoking cigarettes, he did keep his 2009 New Year’s “looking forward, not backward” resolution not to prosecute any US officials for the crime of torture. Unaccountability for all, and a happy new year! What about his promise (enshrined in a 2009 executive order) to end torture? Depending on how one looks at it, the ...

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A Day in the Wilderness of Judea

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 to put a fence in the middle of ...

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The Problem is the Israeli Occupation: al-Nabi Saleh

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 hope to deter people from ...

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Zapping and Groping are Bad Enough Already; Emulating Israel Will Only Make Them Worse

About a month ago, one of my colleagues was describing to me a forthcoming trip, when he paused and reflected, “I’m still not sure whether I want to be groped or zapped.” It is a question many Americans have contemplated in recent weeks, “groping,” of course, being the instantly-infamous “enhanced pat downs” airport travelers can opt for if they refuse a “zapping,” the new X-ray backscatter or millimeter-wave machines that provide TSA shockingly clear body images. Both types of machine are ...

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Locations [Gone to Palestine: 5]

We chose the hamlet of Beit Jeez in from the hundreds of Palestinian villages that were cleansed in 1948. Maryam was scouting locations for her film, and she was looking for a ’48 village where one scene in particular needed to be shot. It was the scene where the protagonist and his girlfriend go after robbing the bank, the place they hole up while they decide whether to continue going on with their crime spree, or to leave for good. It was important that it take place in the ruins of a ’48 village. Her ...

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Urban Scars, An Unfinished Essay: Jaffa/Tel Aviv

Urban scars, cutting deep into the flesh of the city. Lines of division that linger through the civic body, long after their political and social meaning was lost. Areas of inexplicable void within a thriving city. Areas that are constantly on the drawing tables of architects and city planners, who seek to redeem the past, to bring closure to whatever conflict there were, to move on, god dammit. The property value is huge. The return on investment promising. So why do they still stand empty and dead, ...

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Howl [Gone to Palestine: 4]

Howl Considering the fact that our literature workshop at Birzeit almost didn’t take place at all, it was a real success. We’d applied for a grant to teach a workshop to Palestinian university students through a fund administered by the US Department of Education and the State Department’s Public Diplomacy program. Despite the contacts that the consul in East Jerusalem had set up with our colleagues at Birzeit, we had a difficult time making arrangements. The department chair was away for the summer and ...

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A Legal Guide to Being a Lebanese Woman (Part 1)

For the past four years I have been researching the histories and the applications of the Lebanese legal system. An understanding of this legal system, which is the architecture of the Lebanese state, has been vital to my dissertation. I have spent thousands of hours poring over legal texts and legal histories, putting together the puzzle of how, when, and why laws are promulgated, amended, and put into practice in Lebanon. I have met with countless lawyers, judges, plaintiffs, clerks, and ...

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Mardomi-Nejad VS. The Greens: Iran's Political Struggle Captured in Election Posters

Iran’s hotly contested 2009 presidential elections and its tumultuous aftermath have been a source for numerous op-eds, policy speeches, and activist events from Tehran to New York and everywhere in between--to this day. The mass protests and violence that followed the announcement of Ahmadinejad’ s victory overtook the several weeks of campaigning that preceded the June 12 elections that brought 85% of the electorate to the ballot boxes.  One of the vehicles for expressing the platforms of ...

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Neoliberal Pregnancy and Zero-Sum Elitism in the Arab World (Part 2)

In the first post (here) I introduced the topic of the new Arab elitism, or, more accurately, the emerging nexus of power between the political and economic elite. In the next post (sorry about posting another series) I'll discuss ways to pursue research on the topic. But below I will start by debunking some anticipated counterclaims regarding this phenomenon, particularly the claim that some on the left assert--ironically. The new elitism that is sweeping the Arab world deserves close ...

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Why The Wafd Has To Participate In The Upcoming Elections (Part 3)

[See Part 1 here and Part 2 here] The way to critique the Wafd As per the rules of our méconnaissance, most, critical analysts tend to critique the Wafd for whitewashing a brutally rigged election only. That is to say, they limit the problem of the Wafd’s participation to normalizing false elections. So, while the Wafd is committing a mistake, it remains a victim of rigging, nonetheless—as if it were like the Brotherhood or Karama. For some reason no one wants to say that the Wafd, and its siblings, ...

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