DARS Roundup (March 6)
[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
At AIPAC, Netanyahu Launches “Desperate” Attack on B.D.S. movement, by Ali Abunimah
In his keynote speech to the annual gathering of the powerful Israel lobby group AIPAC in Washington DC, Netanyahu told the cheering delegates that “one movement that’s definitely on the wrong side of the moral divide is the movement to boycott Israel, the so-called BDS.” This speech is Netanyahu’s highest profile attack on BDS. Furthermore, Israel is placing dedicated anti-BDS operatives in its foreign embassies. In recent months, top ministers in Netanyahu’s government have repeatedly declared that BDS is the “greatest threat” Israel faces.
Full Text of Judith Butler and Rashid Khalidi’s Open Letter Condemning Censorship of Israeli Critics, by Haaretz
Whether one is for or against Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) as a means to change the current situation in Palestine-Israel, it is important to recognize that boycotts are internationally affirmed and constitutionally protected forms of political expression. As non-violent instruments to effect political change, boycotts cannot be outlawed without trampling on a constitutionally protected right to political speech. Those who support boycotts ought not to become subject to retaliation, surveillance, or censorship when they choose to express their political viewpoint, no matter how offensive that may be to those who disagree.
As Israel Boycott Picks Up Steam, Students at UC Davis Offer New B.D.S. Course, by Haaretz
Students at the University of California Davis, can now study a course on the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement taught by a pro-Palestinian student organization. Students for Justice in Palestine, a student movement in the United States and Canada, said the new course, which does not count toward college credit, covers the history of the BDS movement and tactics for anti-Israel boycott activism.
Hundreds Commemorate Nine Years of Popular Struggle in Bil’in, by Haggal Matar
Approximately five hundred demonstrators gathered in the village of Bil‘in on Friday to mark nine years since village residents began their popular, unarmed resistance against the separation wall. Over the years, Bil‘in has become a symbol for the Palestinian popular struggle - a place for joint, unarmed activism by both Palestinians and Israelis, and an example of how resistance and cooperation can work on a larger scale.
Jerusalem Completely Cut Off as Half a Million Ultra-Orthodox Rally Against Draft, by Yair Ettinger
A massive demonstration by ultra-Orthodox Jews against the government’s proposed military draft law brought hundreds of thousands of Haredim to Jerusalem on Monday 3 March, virtually closing off the city. Leaders along the entire spectrum of the Haredi community, from the Sephardi Shas party to the anti-Zionist Eda Haredit, called on their followers to attend, and they responded. No speeches were planned, or made. Instead, the rally took on a religious flavour. Shofars were blown, and rabbis representing the various communities, Ashkenazi and Sephardi alike, recited from Psalms.
Did Nonviolence Fail in Egypt? by Mark Engler and Paul Engler
The Egyptian revolution should be recognized as a perfect case study both of what can be accomplished by mass mobilizations that harness the power of disruptive protest - and of the limits of these mobilizations. Rallying mass public sympathy, bringing people onto the streets in staggering numbers by “breaking the fear barrier”—as a popular expression among Egyptian activists puts it—and ousting an entrenched regime are all remarkable accomplishments. The challenges of establishing a more free and just social order after a revolution are hardly unique to nonviolent movements. Studies have found that when a regime has been toppled, the post-transition states have been far more likely to become democratic when the transition was led by coalitions employing tactics of unarmed civil resistance.
The Police and the People: One Hand, for Now, by Nour Youssef
There is something new about the general attitude towards security forces. After all, they went from having to withdraw from the streets after failing to quell protests against Mubarak in 2011 to receiving shoulder rides and kisses for handing out water to anti-Morsi protesters rather than spraying them with it in 2013. The change in police activity and popularity here - as videos and reports of continued police abuses suggest - is not the fruit of quick and radical police reforms, but rather the result of the popular reconciliation with them and the military in the wake of their overthrow of the unpopular but elected president Mohamed Morsi.
Repression, Paranoia Increases in Egypt, by Stephen Zunes
Since the military coup in Egypt against Mohammed Morsi last July, more than a thousand regime opponents have been killed, thousands more have been hauled before military courts on political charges, and a repressive anti-protest law has been enacted. The targets of this crackdown have not just been supporters of the ousted Muslim Brotherhood government, but liberal secular activists whose calls for democracy and social justice have put them at odds with both the Islamists and the military leadership. The younger generation of Egyptians will not likely be satisfied with military rule any more than they were with Mubarak or the Muslim Brotherhood.
Journalists Hold Global Day of Protest Over Al-Jazeera Staff Held in Egypt, by Dugald Baird
Media organisations around the world have taken part in a day of protest against the detention of al-Jazeera staff in Egypt. The international day of action was sparked by the imprisonment of three al-Jazeera journalists in Egypt: Peter Greste, Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and Baher Mohamed. Protesters gathered in London’s Trafalgar Square and in other cities around the world including Beirut, Cairo and Berlin to voice their concern.
First Woman to Head a Political Party in Egypt Says it Proves the Revolution Has Changed Attitudes, by Patrick Kingsley
Hala Shukrallah was elected leader of Egypt`s Dostour ("Constitution") party, which was founded by Mohamed El Baradei, the exiled Nobel laureate many hoped would lead post-revolutionary Egypt. Shukrallah is the first woman - and first Christian - to lead a major Egyptian party. At a time when the 2011 uprising seems to have achieved little, her election is a reminder of the seismic social shifts the revolution unleashed.
Western Sahara Activists Feel Full Force of Moroccan Intimidation, by John Hilary
Police heavily intimidated a peaceful Saharawi demonstration - the latest in a series of monthly protests called by human rights groups to demand the release of all Saharawi political prisoners being held in Moroccan jails. Saharawi human rights groups had duly informed the Moroccan authorities of the protest in advance, but because all Saharawi organisations are banned, they were denied permission to hold the demonstration. Any call for Saharawi independence is considered a crime against the integrity of the Moroccan state, as is showing the Saharawi flag in public.
A Woman’s World in Post-Revolution Libya? by Tamsin Walker
Three years ago Libya was hurtling headlong into the revolution that culminated in the death of Moammar Gadhafi. Having played an active role—as fighters, doctors and correspondents—in the events leading up to the fall of the regime, Libyan women were emboldened and hopeful the country they were helping to redefine would be a place of liberal values and reasoned thought. While some have fared well, women in the east face greater restrictions on their freedom than elsewhere in the country
Libya: Benghazi Youths Protest Assassinations, by Nadia Radwan
The killings of two more policemen in Benghazi sparked protests by angry young residents. Citizens shut streets and blocked access with burning tires, damaged traffic signs and make-shift barriers. The youths called on the residents of Benghazi to declare a state of civil disobedience to protest the deteriorating security situation and increase in assassinations.
Turkey Under Erdogan - From Gezi to Internet Ban, by Arzu Geybulla
The Gezi Park protest showed the side of Turkey many thought was forgotten - popular dissent, unity, and solidarity. For the first time in years in a country of some seventy million, people rose against their government and the gripping authority of the ruling Justice and Development party and its leader, the Prime Minister Erdogan. Then Turkey witnessed a mass corruption scandal in December, which involved many of the ruling party ministers. As a result the new Internet law should come as no surprise in a government’s attempt to prevent any future such challenges.
Turkey Opposition Holds Protest Rallies, by Al Jazeera
Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in Turkey after the president signed a controversial bill tightening controls on the judiciary, deepening opposition resentment towards a government already struggling with a corruption scandal. Police used tear-gas to disperse protesters in the capital Ankara on Wednesday, while in Istanbul demonstrators gathered on central Taksim Square, the scene of protests that have dogged the government for months.
The French Intifada: How the Arab Banlieues Are Fighting the French State, by Andrew Hussey
The rioters at the Gare du Nord train station in Paris often describe themselves as soldiers in a "long war` against France and Europe. The so-called "French intifada", the guerrilla war with police at the edges and in the heart of French cities, is only the latest and most dramatic form of engagement with the enemy. The catalyst was a series of confrontations between immigrant youth and the police in the Parisian banlieue of Clichy-sous-Bois. As the fighting between police and the banlieues are intensified, riots broke out in major cities across France.
Iranian Activist Mohammad Nurizad Attacked and Arrested, But Not Silenced, by Saeed Kamali Dehghan
Members of Iran`s intelligence services have beaten up and temporarily detained a prominent journalist and filmmaker critical of the authorities` treatment of the opposition. Mohammad Nurizad, sixty-one, was protesting in front of the Iranian intelligence ministry in Tehran when a group of its agents attacked him, and took him to Evin prison without a valid warrant for his arrest. He was later released. Every morning for the past forty-three days, Nurizad has gone in front of the ministry`s building wearing a white shirt and carrying a white flag with his demands written on it.
Saudi Female Soccer Controversy Leads to Major Discussion, by James M. Dorsey
A Saudi debate about the societal role of soccer expanded this week with controversy over a group of female American Congressional staffers being allowed to watch a match in a Riyadh stadium from which Saudi women are barred and a video in which a teacher encouraged his students to chant slogans for a soccer club rather than the national anthem. The expanded debate hooks into a broader debate about women’s rights in a country that upholds gender segregation; bans women from driving, attending sports matches and forces women’s soccer clubs to operate in a legal and social nether land; and in general provides few sporting opportunities for women.
Revolutionary Patience, by Javier Solana
The timing of successful social changes in Europe is different from those in Middle East. We cannot expect results in the Middle East in three years that have not been achieved in Europe in a quarter-century. Despite the backsliding in Egypt and the intolerable violence in Syria, the region is evolving at its own pace in a complex, changing, and unstable geopolitical context. A patient strategy and an unwavering dedication to pluralism are fundamental, whether in Kyiv or Cairo.
Recipe for Revolt: What do Ukraine, Turkey and Thailand Have in Common? by Simon Tisdall
If one lesson can be drawn from the spate of street revolts rippling around the globe from south-east Asia to Europe to Latin America, it is that every revolution is different. At the same time, it is plain that in the modern, interconnected world, grassroots uprisings cross-fertilise and often have similarities. Turkey, Ukraine, Thailand, Venezuela and Bosnia-Herzegovina are all middle-income democracies with elected leaders besieged by people angry at misgovernment, corruption and economic sclerosis. These days it is no longer just dictators who have something to fear from the crowd.
Palestine Activists, Labor and Environment Groups in US Unite Against Veolia, by Charlotte Silver
The French corporation Veolia Environment and its subsidiary Veolia Transdev have acted in complicity with Israel’s occupation and colonization of Palestinian land. This article provides an overview of the campaign against Veolia.
Saudi Women Activists Demand End to “Absolute” Male Control, by AFP
Saudi Arabia imposes a strict interpretation of Islamic law, forbidding women to work or travel without the authorisation of their male guardians. Activist Aziza Yousef told AFP that “rights activists have petitioned the Shura (consultative) Council on the occasion of International Women’s Day (on 8 March) demanding an end to the absolute authority of men over women.”
Oscar Nominated Documentary “The Square” Takes on Political Life of Its Own, by Ishaan Tharoor
The much-acclaimed documentary The Square entered Oscar weekend as a lead contender in the Best Documentary category. Drawing on footage taken by some 40 Egyptian videographers, The Square celebrates the euphoria of the revolution. Director Jehane Noujaim announced that The Square is available for free over YouTube to all Egyptian viewers. Earlier this month, Ukrainian protesters braved sub-zero temperatures in Kiev’s Maidan square and saw a dubbed version of the movie.
The Soundtrack of the Syrian Resistance, by Leila Nachawati Rego
From the beginning of the uprising, it was clear from the persecution of Syrian musicians, poets, and artists, including the satirical cartoonist Ali Ferzat, whose hands were broken during arrest last year, that one of the main targets of the regime would be Syria’s budding civil movement.
Conferences & Events
Israeli Apartheid Week 2014, February-March 2014
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: ‘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, United Kingdom.