[This is a bi-weekly 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 bi-weekly roundup to DARS@jadaliyya.com by Sunday night of every second week.]
News & Commentary
The Arabs, Three Years After Bouazizi, by Rami G. Khouri
We are witnessing across the Arab world a convergence of historical dynamics: of stunted statehood and postcolonial (Western) and neo-imperial (Iranian-Saudi) interventions, with the aspirations of millions of citizens to live freely and securely in societies that respect their rights and offer them basic opportunities to live a decent life. All the accumulated distortions, crimes and incompetence of the past century of Arab history are now being flushed out into the open, in order to be replaced by something better in the business of governance, development, citizenship and statehood. For the first time ever, this process may occur according to the wishes of the citizens themselves.
Arab Spring: 10 Unpredicted Outcomes, by Kevin Connolly
Three years on from the start of the upheaval which became known as the Arab Spring, the Middle East is still in a state of flux. Rebellions have brought down regimes, but other consequences have been far less predictable. The BBC`s Middle East correspondent Kevin Connolly sets out 10 unintended outcomes.
Hunger Striker Samer Issawi Welcomed Home in Jerusalem, by Maureen Clare Murphy
Samer Issawi was greeted by family and supporters at his village today after his release from Israeli prison, where he has been held for seventeen months. Issawi was released as part of an agreement with the Israeli prison authorities reached in April after he refused food for 266 days. According to the human rights group, Addameer, Issawi had rejected attempts by Israel to have him deported as part of a release deal.
Boycott by Academic Group Is a Symbolic Sting to Israel, by Richard Pérez-Peña and Jodi Rudoren
An American organization of professors announced a boycott of Israeli academic institutions to protest Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, signalling that a movement to isolate and pressure Israel that is gaining ground in Europe has begun to make strides in the United States. With fewer than 5,000 members, the group is not one of the larger scholarly associations. But its vote is a milestone for a Palestinian movement known as B.D.S., for Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions, which for the past decade had found little traction in the United States.
Anti-NGO Legislation in Israel: a First Step Toward Silencing Dissent, by Daniel Sokatch
For several years, ultra-nationalist Israeli parties have attempted to restrict foreign financing to domestic NGOs. On 15 December 2013, a new bill that would penalize domestic NGOs at odds with Israeli government policy cleared the first legislative hurdles in the Israeli parliament, or Knesset. This proposed law takes aim at Israeli groups who support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, along with NGOs sympathetic to attempts to indict and prosecute Israeli officials in other countries, known as “universal jurisdiction.”
What’s Next for Bedouin in a Post-Prawer Israel? by Haggai Matar
The Prawer-Begin Plan, as submitted to the Israeli government earlier this year, threatened to displace tens of thousands of Bedouin citizens of Israel living in “unrecognized villages” in the Negev. The plan, which aimed to resolve all disputed Bedouin land claims, was drafted without input from the Bedouin community. The “Stop Prawer Plan” campaigners celebrate their enormous success in halting the Prawer Plan. Two weeks ago clashes between demonstrators and police in Hura and Haifa rattled the country. Activism on the ground encouraged the opposition in Knesset to be more assertive, to demand answers about the proposed bill and warn of the dangers that may await the country if it was to go forward as planned.
Israel Shelves Plan to Move Bedouins Amid Outcry, by Jodi Rudoren
The Israeli government shelved a plan to resettle tens of thousands of Bedouin citizens in the Negev desert that had drawn international condemnation, spawned street demonstrations across Israel, and in recent days lost the support of lawmakers from the governing coalition as well. The two billion dollars plan would have provided badly needed infrastructure, including basic utilities, for some villages, along with schools, clinics, job training and other services for the Negev’s two hundred thousands Bedouins, by far Israel’s poorest population.
In Act of Civil Disobedience, 150 Sudanese Refugees Walk Out of Israeli “Open Prison,” by Michael Omer-Man
One hundred fifty Sudanese asylum seekers left a new ‘open prison’ and walked six hours to Be’er Sheva in a mass act of civil disobedience protesting their continued detention without trial and demanding recognition as refugees on Sunday. The asylum seekers were transferred to the new facility, “Holot,” in recent days in line with a law passed last week. The law is an attempt by legislators to circumvent a High Court ruling, which struck down as unconstitutional a previous law that permitted the indefinite detention of asylum seekers. The new law instead authorizes their indefinite detention in “open” facilities.
The story of a Girl Activist – Egypt, by Anna Leach
Yara Hady started teaching girls science in an under-privileged area of Cairo after the Egyptian revolution. "Women`s rights in Egypt may be slightly better than the rest of the Middle East, but the way women are treated is still nothing short of disgraceful," stated Yara. She is teaching young girls science, particularly physics, and several expressed interest in pursuing a higher level education in aerospace engineering. "I`m fighting for: peace, civil rights, freedom, justice, women`s rights – I`m fighting for my utopia," said Yara.
Despite Risks, Women Continue to Protest in Egypt, by Enas Hamed
Egypt has gotten no respite from demonstrations and protests by citizens demanding various rights and freedoms. Members from all social groups continue to take part in such demonstrations. The women and girls who participate confront specifically gender-related problems, so they have been taking special care and making arrangements for their safety before they join demonstrations. As the security forces` counterdemonstration tactics have evolved, so have women`s preparations.
Egypt’s Women Fight Back, by Daniel Lansberg-Rodriguez
The growing public perception of limitations on women in the public sphere and rampant sexual harassment is now inspiring many ordinary Egyptians to become active parts of the solution. Rebbeca Chiao, the co-founder of HarassMap, a leading effort to address sexual harassment and assault in Egypt, notes that more than fifty per cent of her volunteers are now men, who are increasingly lending their own strength to a coalition of women that is ever more insistent and assertive in defending their rights and proliferating messages of gender equality and justice.
Egyptians Mock Ads Promoting New Constitution with Typos and Stock Images, by Robert Mackey
A campaign to win support for a draft of Egypt’s new constitution got off to a rocky start when observers noticed that a banner promoting the document misspelled the word for “Egyptians” in Arabic and used stock images of foreigners to stand in for representative citizens. Omar Robert Hamilton, a founder of the Cairo film collective Mosireen, which was formed to document protests against authoritarian rule in Egypt and takes its name from the word for “determined,” joked that his group welcomed the endorsement.
Egyptian Police Fire Teargas and Water Cannon on Protesters, by Reuters
Egyptian riot police fired teargas and water cannon to disperse hundreds of pro-Islamist protesters demonstrating near the headquarters of the ministry of defense in Cairo. Egypt has been witnessing almost daily protests by supporters of elected Islamist president Mohamed Mursi since the army removed him in July after mass protests against his rule. Mursi`s removal opened the bloodiest chapter in Egypt`s modern history. Security forces have since killed hundreds of his supporters, while some two hundred soldiers and policemen have been killed.
More Worrying Violations of Freedom of Information, by Reporters Without Borders
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the Egyptian government`s continuing crackdown on news media and journalists. "We are concerned about the many contradictory signals that media personnel are getting from the Egyptian authorities," RSF said. "It is becoming harder and harder to work as a journalist in Egypt. Arrest, imprisonment on spurious charges and an increase in prosecutions are having a major deterrent effect on journalists.”
Libya’s Brigades, by Juliana Ruhfus
Just over two years after the fall of Gaddafi’s regime, there are concerns that Libya is breaking apart. And now the revolutionary brigades who fought to liberate the country are being blamed for destroying it. Tripoli is home to several large militia bases, many of which are located in Gaddafi’s enormous old military installations. A new government plan is being put into action to reverse the enrolment of the security forces away from the commanders and towards individual brigade members. Meanwhile, groups in the east of the country have occupied oil installations and have brought Libya’s lucrative oil flow to a virtual halt.
Saudi Passes Anti-Terror Law, Banning Defamation, by Associated Press
Saudi Arabia’s Cabinet approved on Monday a new anti-terrorism draft law that criminalizes acts that disturb public order, defame the reputation of the state or threaten the kingdom’s unity, raising concerns by activists it could be used to quash political dissent. A rights activist and a rights lawyer denounced the law as too broad, saying that besides terrorists, it targets civil society activists calling for democratic reforms. They spoke anonymously for fear of retribution.
The Police Are Dogs, by Fadil Aliriza
There`s something about rap`s searing disrespect for authority that spooks Tunisia`s government, and especially the police. Since the revolution, many other public figures, including political commentators, academics, and politicians, have openly criticized officialdom without serious blowback. Yet it`s Tunisia`s young rappers, many from poor neighbourhoods, who have felt the brunt of the state`s anger. "They`re afraid of what we`re saying,” says rapper Klay BBJ. Klay`s rage resonates in a country where the promise of the revolution remains unfulfilled.
Turkey’s LGBT Community Draws Hope from Harvey Milk, by Verda Ozer
Last week, the Turkish Parliamentary Human Rights Research Commission’s Prisons Subcommittee released its report on three prisons in the southern province of Antalya. The report says gay and transsexual inmates live in the same cells, suffer because of their sexual identities and that their ward is the only area without security cameras – which leaves them completely unprotected. Gay rights groups in Turkey have voiced disappointment that legislation proposed by the government to parliament in early December under the name of “democratization package” excludes crimes based on sexual orientation.
Computer Crimes in Iran: Online Repression in Practice, by Article 19
Iran`s Computer Crimes Law was approved by parliament in January 2009 and has been instrumental in the prosecution and repression of cyber-activists and bloggers. This report presents a collection of narratives from Iranian civil society activists who have become victims of the Iranian regime`s sophisticated censorship apparatus and its suppression of digital activism. It also hints at the contentious relationship between the growth of the Internet in Iran over the past two decades and the regime`s response to it.
2013: The Year in Global Protest, by David Stout
Three years after crowds in Tunisia forced long-time dictator President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali into flight, and kicked off what would later be termed the “Arab Spring,” the world’s streets remain alive with protest. The year’s first protests had been brewing for nearly a month in India, in response to the New Delhi gang rape of a female student, who later died of her injuries. During the summer, Tahrir Square was reclaimed for a series of protests that eventually resulted in a military coup and the arrest of the popularly elected President Mohammed Morsi in early July. At the year’s end, Thailand’s color-coded protests sprung to life after three years of calm. Across the world in Ukraine’s capital Kiev, demonstrators braved frosty temperatures to call for closer ties with Europe.
Saudi Women Re-Launch Campaign for Right to Drive
Saudi women activists have re-launched a campaign for the right to drive in the ultra conservative kingdom, urging women to get behind the wheel on 28 December.
What We Learned in Tahrir, by Yasmine El Rashidi
Jehane Noujaim’s documentary, The Square, tells the tumultuous story of the weeks in Tahrir Square, starting with the eighteen-day uprising against Mubarak in 2011, and ending with the events of the summer of 2013: the ousting of another president, the dispersal of an Islamist sit-in that left hundreds dead. It captures the initial coming together in Tahrir, but also the divisions that followed. The footage was taken from activists and citizens journalists, which captured not only the spirit that made Tahrir what it was during an idyllic eighteen days and for months later; it also left an unparalleled, and inevitably unwieldy, record of the uprising.
New Exhibition Features Palestinian Artwork Created Out of Israel’s Tools of Oppression, by Sarah Marusek
Palestinian activists Sami Musa and Mohammed Khatib have transformed the oppressive tools that sustain Israel`s occupation of Palestine and its apartheid policies of discrimination, and transformed them into beautiful works of art that communicate messages of love, dignity and resistance. This art exhibition called "Chic-Art-Resistance" was launched on 9 December at the Mahmoud Darwish Museum in Ramallah and then travelled to the Bethlehem Peace Centre.
Edgy Exhibit Asks Israelis to Reconsider Syrian Strongman Assad, by Christa Case Bryant
Israel`s contemporary artists Yanay Geva and Lilac Madar have done an exhibition that features everything from a gas canister to a family photo of the Syria`s Bashar al-Assad, placed on a lace-covered side table with a bowl of Arab sweets. The artists` goal was to push visitors to go beyond the one-dimensional narrative in Israel – how does the war impact Israel`s security – and puzzle over the central figure behind the war.
Conferences & Events
Bethlehem Unwrapped, 23 December 2013-5 January 2014, St. James’ Church, London, UK
She Who Tells a Story: Women Photographers from Iran and the Arab World, 27 August 2013-12 January 2014, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, USA
Creative Dissent: Arts of the Arab World Uprisings, 8 November 2013-9 February 2014, Arab American National Museum, Michigan, USA