[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 Boycott Is Our Palestinian Non-Violent Resistance, by Hanan Ashrawi
Initiated by Palestinian civil society and sustained by solidarity groups and people of conscience worldwide, including within Israel itself, the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement is, in several respects, modelled after the long but efficacious struggle to end apartheid and institutional racism in South Africa. This global movement represents an effective and responsible way of dealing with the escalation of Israeli violations, particularly its settlement activities, the confiscation of Palestinian land, the demolition of Palestinian homes, the military blockade of the Gaza Strip, and the annexation and isolation of Jerusalem. It also constitutes a proactive method of nonviolent resistance that is essential to the Palestinian struggle for equality and freedom.
Losing the Propaganda War, by Hirsh Goodman
The Palestinians and their supporters, particularly the young generation, have come to realize that the stones of the first intifada and the suicide bombers of the second are yesterday’s weapons in yesterday’s war. Boycott, divestment, and sanctions are now the way they seek to end the Israeli occupation. Their message has started to resonate with trade unions, churches, universities, and international companies in Europe and the United States, who see Israel as oppressing Palestinians and violating their human rights.
Failed Palestinian Peace Talks Will Hit Every Israeli in the Pocket, by Ian Deitch
Israel’s finance minister has warned that the country could be targeted by an economically costly boycott if peace talks with the Palestinians fail, signaling that concerns about growing international isolation have moved center stage in Israel’s public discourse. The minister Yair Lapid stated that even in the case of a limited boycott that reduces Israeli exports to the European Union by twenty percent, the damage would amount to about twenty billion shekels ($5.7bn) in exports annually. European officials have recently warned that Israel could face deepening economic isolation if it presses forward with the construction of Jewish settlements.
Defenders of SodaStream Confuse Boycotts of Israeli Settlements With Movement to Boycott Israel, by Robert Mackey
In a televised debate with SodaStream’s chief executive, Ben Phillips, Oxfam`s director of policy, on the BBC stated, “Oxfam doesn’t support a boycott against Israel—we’ve been very, very clear about that.” However, Phillips also said that: “This factory and the settlements are not in Israel. That’s the position of international law, and the settlements hurt Palestinians.” As the debate fueled by actress Scarlet Johansson’s resignation from the charity as a "brand ambassador" has unfolded, defenders of Israel’s settlements seem to have made a concerted effort to discredit Oxfam’s stance against SodaStream.
Inside SodaStream Factory, Machines Whir Through Boycott Controversy, by Christa Case Bryant
Israeli company SodaStream is the largest private employer of Palestinians in the West Bank. Employing a few hundred of the more than two million Palestinians in the West Bank does not excuse the fact that the factory operates in an Israeli settlement, the establishment of which the United Nations has declared a violation of international law. Supporters of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, aimed at ending Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, are calling on consumers not to buy products from companies like SodaStream.
The Third Intifada, by Thomas Friedman
The Third Intifada is underway. It’s the one that Israel always feared most — not an intifada with stones or suicide bombers, but one propelled by nonviolent resistance and economic boycott. It’s led by the European Union in Brussels and other opponents of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank across the globe. Regardless of origin, though, it’s becoming a real source of leverage for the Palestinians in their negotiations with Israel. This Third Intifada, in my view, has much more potential to have a long-term impact.
The B.D.S Threat, by Roger Cohen
Despite the Israeli government’s public indignation over Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent comment that the increasing “delegitimization” campaign against Israel is rendering the status quo unsustainable, Israel’s own finance minister, Yair Lapid, has already said it: The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement is beginning to bite. In theory, BDS might be a positive factor, but I do not trust the BDS movement. Its stated aim is to end the occupation, secure “full equality” for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, and fight for the right of return of all Palestinian refugees.
Defiance and Sadness as Palestinians Forced Off West Bank Protest Site, by Ian Black
Hundreds of police and troops returned on 7 February to force some 270 Palestinians off the site close to Jericho and the Dead Sea, after a week of peaceful direct action designed to dramatize their claim to the land and to protest against peace talks they fear will consolidate rather than end the Israeli occupation.
Iara Lee on Global Justice, Activism and Palestine, by Charlie Hoyle
Charlie Hoyle interviews Iara Lee, an activist, filmmaker and founder of the Cultures of Resistance Network on global resistance, activism and Palestine.
Report: “Women in Palestine Are Planting Seeds of Resistance,” by Eleonora Gatto
On 31 January, Nabi Saleh`s inhabitants challenged the mobile checkpoints that were blocking the main roads to Ein Hijleh. After taking a secondary road and deceiving the Israeli police, they triumphantly arrived to revitalize the abandoned village of Ein Hiljeh. What immediately caught the viewers` eyes was the high presence of women and children. In fact, the particularity of Nabi Saleh village is the fundamental role of women in the popular struggle. They are the driving force of the nonviolent movement in Nabi Saleh. Direct nonviolent actions such as Ein Hijleh have a powerful resonance: they raise consciousness and use creative tension as a mean to bring down an unjust system.
The Syrian Opposition Is Disappearing from Facebook, by Michael Pizzi
Ammar Hamidou, who fled Syria last year, was one of the first to take to the streets in his hometown in early 2011. Nowadays, his activism takes place on his computer. In a country where foreign and independent journalists are barred, and the regime’s network of citizen-spies makes public discussion of the revolution dangerous, Facebook was one of the first refuges for Syria’s dissidents. But now the regime is pressing Facebook into closing their Facebook pages. Facebook’s community standards are designed to deter cyberbullying. But where such “bullying” impacts the future of a country, the social network is entering uncharted territory.
Pirate Radio Gives Voice to Syrian Opposition, by Ben Hunnard
Radio Watan is one of more than a dozen opposition radio stations that have sprung up since the start of the revolt against the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad. The stations are run by young civilian activists who played an important role early in the uprising but have since been targeted by government forces, sidelined by Islamist rebels ,and attacked by extremist groups who consider them infidels for airing music and women’s voices. As these activists have lost ground inside Syria, they have increasingly resorted to the airwaves to maintain their voice.
The War on Journalists, by Sharif Abdel Kouddous
In Egypt the journalists accused in the case targeting Al Jazeera are being treated as terrorists—that is to say, inhumanely. Two of the detained Al Jazeera English staff, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, are being held in Al-Akrab, the maximum security wing of Tora prison, alongside jihadis and militants. The Committee to Protect Journalists ranked Egypt the third deadliest country for journalists in 2014 and among the world`s top ten worst jailers of journalists.
Protesting Against Egypt’s Crackdown on the Press. Let Them Out, by D.H.
Peter Greste, Al Jazeera English`s East Africa correspondent, and his two Egyptian colleagues, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Muhammad, have been detained in Egypt for more than a month, arrested on 29 December for attempting to give a balanced account of the tumult in Egypt by talking to all sides. Egyptian courts have mentioned allegations of aiding a terrorist organization and spreading false information, but official charges have yet to be made. A hundred journalists marched to the Egyptian embassy in Nairobi on 4 February to demand the release of Greste and his colleagues.
Egypt’s Attack on the Media Gives Little Cause for Hope, by Sarah Carr
Egypt is in the middle of a massive crackdown primarily targeting members of the Muslim Brotherhood and anyone associated with it. A major front has also been opened against the media. On 29 January, twenty journalists, including four foreigners, were facing charges of joining or aiding a terrorist group and spreading false news. Amid the continuing mass arrests and detentions, these incidents have had a chilling effect. Journalists must now contend with both the threat of being shot, or detained, or attacked by members of the general public who have been told that Al Jazeera and foreign journalists are out to spread chaos in Egypt.
Youssef: “Important to Have Other Opinions,” by Jaafar Abdul-Karim and Khaled El Kaoutit
Last year "Al Bernameg," one of the most popular TV series in the Arab world, was abruptly taken off air. Now it`s making a comeback. DW speaks with the program’s controversial host Bassem Youssef. "People should be able to listen to different opinions. If the media always presents the same views, the people will turn their back on the media. It would be better if there was a kind of political movement. But in times when anxiety and fear prevail, it`s always difficult to argue with logic, let alone with satire," says Youssef.
The Life of a Muslim Sister, by Nour Youssef
The sound of gunshots does not frighten Nadia who joins the regular student protesters’ clashes with security forces at Al-Azhar University. Nadia’s definition of peacefulness is popular in the Muslim Brotherhood (and in non-MB revolutionary circles). Ahmad Hijab, a Cairo University Brother, explained how the student protesters are completely peaceful, but that they must be because military chief, General Abdel Fatah el-Sisi, would love an excuse to have them all shot, before he casually added that he had never been to a protest without fireworks, Molotov and rocks.
Turkey’s “New Media Order” Based on Government Pressure, by Günay Hilal Aygün
Along with the controversial Internet bill which will allow the government to remove online content without a court order, the Turkish public is discussing another crucial revelation that clearly demonstrates government pressure on mainstream media outlets. A series of phone conversations that were leaked and circulated on social media revealed Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan asking for altering results of opinion polls, stopping broadcasts of the opposition leaders, and allegedly firing the three journalists who criticized the public health system.
Police Intervene Against Protest in Istanbul Denouncing Trial of Gezi Victim, by Hurriyet Daily News
Police used tear gas and water cannons against a group of protesters gathered in Istanbul’s Kadıköy district on 5 February to denounce the hearing into the death of the first victim of last year’s Gezi protests. The crowd gathered after a court suspended the second hearing into the death of Mehmet Ayvalıtaş for a further investigation of evidence, despite demands from lawyers representing the victim’s family.
Moroccan Villagers Occupy Silver Mine, by WW4 Report
An occupation camp was established by Berber villagers at Mount Alebban to protest the operations of the Imiter Mettalurgic Mining Company—whose principal owner is the North African nation`s King Mohammed VI. The occupation was first launched in 1996, but was broken up by the authorities. It was revived in the summer of 2011, after students who were used to getting seasonal jobs at the mine were turned down. That led the villagers—even those with jobs at the complex—to establish again a permanent encampment blocking access to the site of Africa`s most productive silver mine.
The Campaign to Amend Article 7 of the Nationality Act demands granting Saudi nationality to children whose mother is Saudi and whose father is not. Currently, only children whose father is Saudi are granted the nationality. This means that the children of Saudi mothers, whose fathers are of another nationality, cannot benefit from public education and health coverage, among other perks.
The Square’s Jehane Noujaim on Filming a Revolution, by Matisse Bustos Hawkes
The Square, an Oscar-nominated documentary by director Jehane Noujaim, follows core activists during the Egyptian Revolution that overthrew Hosni Mubarack, and then saw the rise and fall of Mohamed Morsi. In an interview with WITNESS, Noujaim explains how the documentary was constructed from one thousand six hundred hours of footage, the role of citizen video in the making of it and how collaborative production brought the whole film together.
This Divestment Bill Hurts My Feelings, by Ali Abunimah
Poet Remi Kanazi released this video of him reading his piece “This Divestment Bill Hurts My Feelings.” Fusing together spoken word poetry and motion graphics, the visually compelling video is a collaboration between Kanazi and Suhel Nafar, director, animator, and co-founder of the hip hop group DAM.
Conferences & Events
The Third Annual Conference on the Social Sciences and Humanities, 19-20 March 2014, Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, Tunisia
Call for Papers: Protest (deadline: 24 February), University of Glasgow, College of Arts, Postgraduate Conference 2014
Call for Papers: ‘Bread, Freedom and Social Justice:’ Organized Workers and Mass Mobilizations in the Arab World, Europe, and Latin America, 10-11 July 2014, University of Cambridge, UK.