[This is a monthly 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 monthly roundup to DARS@jadaliyya.com.]
News & Commentary
The Palestinian Resistance and Its Enemies, by Tariq Dana
Division is not new in Palestinian national politics. Political and ideological disagreements have been features of factional politics within the Palestinian national movement since its inception. However, during moments of resistance to intensified Israeli aggression, these fissures used to close up, to be replaced with a sense of unity and shared destiny. Unfortunately, recent years have undermined this tendency. Resistance is no longer seen as a unifying umbrella under which Palestinian factions leave behind their disputes.
As the Gaza Crisis Deepens, Boycotts Can Raise the Price of Israel’s Impunity, by Rafeef Ziadah
After twenty-one days of bombing, Israel still refuses a comprehensive ceasefire that meets the minimal, unified demand of all Palestinians – to let people lead normal lives. If governments refuse to act, then the vast international support that Israel enjoys must be tackled by international grassroots civil society, using the same methods that isolated South Africa during apartheid. Since its launch by Palestinian civil society in 2005, the boycott, divestment and sanctions (B.D.S.) movement has won support from trade unions, political parties and grassroots movements, and from vast numbers of people all over the world expressing their ethical commitment by boycotting all Israeli products, not just those from the occupied territories. As a result, B.D.S. pressure is now starting to have significant impacts.
Gaza Anonymous Hacking Attack Shuts Down “Hundreds” of Israeli Government Websites, by Louise Ridley
The hacking collective Anonymous has warned it will launch more attacks on Israeli government websites after apparently disabling more than five hundred, in a wave of cyber offensives which it says are in retaliation for Israel’s bombardment of Gaza. The hacking onslaught began at the weekend, with Anonymous claiming to have broken through complex cyber security for sites including some connected to Israeli Defence Force and Mossad, the Israeli secret service. Its attacks are being focused on websites using the gov.il and .il domains, the collective says.
U.K.’s Student Union Condemns Israel, Calls For Boycott, by Asa Winstanley
On Monday 4 August, the National Executive Council (N.E.C.) of the Nation Union of Students (N.U.S.) voted to pass a motion in solidarity with Palestine, and for an arms embargo against Israel. The N.E.C. motion condemned Israel’s lethal assault on and blockade of the Gaza Strip. It also called on the N.U.S. membership, comprising seven million students, to boycott “corporations complicit in financing and aiding Israel’s military, including G4S and Hewlett Packard.”
Palestinian Resistance: An Icon For Those Who Long to Live Free, by Susan Abulhawa
Palestinians have done it all. We choose resistance, always, in all its forms. We resist because it is our right. Because we are the indigenous people of the land and we have nowhere else to go or belong. Because our parents, grandparents, great grandparents and on and on are buried in this soil. Because we are right and our cause is just. We resist passively and actively. We resist violently and non-violently. It is our legal and moral right to resist with whatever means available to us against what has been accurately called “incremental genocide.” We have tried everything to gain the simplest of human dignities.
Gaza: Palestine First and Last, by Alain Gresh
More than a thousand Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s latest assault on Gaza, against some forty Israelis, and the numbers are rising. But Gaza, the birthplace of Palestinian nationalism, has a long history of resistance.
Rejecting Victimhood: The Case for Palestinian Resistance, by Rana Baker
Resistance rockets fired from the Gaza Strip provide a necessary counter-discourse. The Israeli Jewish public must understand that there shall be no security so long as they do not turn their anger and frustration at their very supremacist privilege and ideological system which is embodied in the Israeli government, left-wing, centrist, or right-wing. No one is asking them to leave, but they must accept Palestinian resistance insofar as they accept the arrogance which characterises the Zionist ideology. The radical potential of Palestinian rockets, of sirens going off, lies in these rockets` ability to disrupt a system of privilege which Israeli Jews enjoy at the expense of colonised and displaced Palestinians. Rockets, in other words, are a radical declaration of existence and unmediated expression of self-determination.
New Gaza Flotilla to Sail From Turkey With Old Flagship, by Amira Hass
The international Freedom Flotilla to Gaza coalition decided its new flotilla to the Gaza Strip will include the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, the same vessel that participated in a maritime protest against the siege on Gaza in 2010, during which nine of its passengers were killed by the Israel Navy. The new flotilla will not, however, be a humanitarian convoy for transporting aide and medication to the Gaza Strip, but will embody a message of political protest against the ongoing blockade of the Strip and Israel’s operation there.
Palestinians Killed in West Bank Gaza Solidarity March, by BBC
About ten thousand protesters marched from Ramallah towards East Jerusalem, where they were met by Israeli forces. At least two Palestinians have been killed and two hundred wounded in the West Bank during protests against Israel`s campaign in Gaza, officials say. The protest at Qalandia, outside Ramallah, saw Israeli border police use "riot control measures" and live fire. Protesters also used live ammunition, Israel said. The demonstration was called for by a group of youths on Facebook, among them the son of the popular imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti.
Spectators to War, West Bank Residents Hail the Hamas Fight Against Israel, by Isabel Kershner
On Thursday 24 July, thousands of Palestinians marched from Al Amari to the Qalandia checkpoint that separates Ramallah from Jerusalem, many carrying Palestinian flags and wearing black T-shirts with the slogan “We are all Gaza.” For many in the West Bank, the geographical separation has only underscored the deep emotional bonds and the desire for closer political unity with Gaza, which is dominated by Hamas, the Islamic militant group — a demand that would further complicate relations with Israel.
Little Room For Wartime Dissent in Israeli Media, by Bettina Marx
Criticism of the offensive in the Gaza Strip is hardly being voiced in mainstream Israeli media as there appears to be little tolerance for dissenting opinions and criticism of the military elite. Journalist Gideon Levy created a frenzy recently after writing an article in the Israeli daily Haaretz in which he criticized air force pilots for their operations in the Gaza Strip. Levy wrote: "They are heroes who are fighting the weakest and most helpless of people - people who have no air force, no anti-aircraft systems, who are hardly able to fly a kite." His article brought on a serious outcry as fighter pilots are seen as untouchable heroes in Israel. The journalist has tried to explain his position in talk shows and interviews, but he is frequently interrupted by bystanders who call him a traitor.
Palestinian Intellectuals Demand “Unity” in Actions, Not Words, by Rich Wiles
Many Palestinian intellectuals say that the western media is dominated by the so-called “war” between Hamas and Israel, and is missing the real story on the ground, which is the collective upsurge of resistance and unity amongst the Palestinian community in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank. In Jerusalem demonstrations have been taking place across Palestinian areas of the city. In the West Bank, demonstrations are also taking place alongside Israeli military bases and settlements. As Palestinians demonstrate grassroots unity in the streets, the leadership remains both undemocratic and unrepresentative.
Civil Resistance Is Alive in Syria, by Zeinab Khalil
Civil resistance organizers maintain civilian agency by publicly responding to provocative situations and unfolding events. They give us glimpses into public opinion in Syria across different points in time, an especially important window, considering how little we do know of the inclinations and aspirations of the civilian population. In this way, activists pursuing civil resistance and publicly questioning the direction of internal politics open up room for debate on competing struggles in Syria, something especially crucial as extremist groups like ISIS shut down that conversation.
Turkish Women Defy Deputy PM With Laughter, by Constanze Letsch
Twitter in Turkey broke into a collective grin on Wednesday 30 July as hundreds of women posted pictures of themselves laughing. They weren`t just happy. They were smiling in defiance of the deputy Prime Minister, Bülent Arinç, who in a speech to mark Eid al-Fitr on Monday said women should not laugh in public. Thousands of women posted pictures of themselves laughing out loud, with the hashtags #direnkahkaha (resist laughter) and #direnkadin (resist woman) trending on Twitter.
Egypt: After the Revolution Comes the Battle For Revenge, by Patrick Kingsley
Since Egypt`s 2011 uprising, the country`s many factions have competed to impose their narratives on highly contested events and as a result, words used to describe the events of the revolution can have wildly different meanings. Fascinated by this lexical battleground, Amira Hanafi, an Egyptian-American artist, is travelling across Egypt. She is interviewing hundreds of ordinary people about what 160 buzzwords related to the revolution – terms such as "freedom", "coup", and even "revolution" – mean to them and is turning the replies into a book.
Libyan Airport Staff Strike to Protest Shelling, Reuters
Air controllers in western Libya went on strike to protest the shelling of Tripoli`s main airport, halting flights in much of the oil-producing country. The strike put pressure on rival militias to end four days of heavy fighting over control of the country`s biggest airport, during which at least twenty aircraft have been damaged in the worst violence in the Libyan capital for six months.
Internet Monitoring in the Gulf: We Are Watching You, by The Economist
Across the repressive Persian Gulf, social media has become an important way for activists and would-be reformers to speak out. In response, governments have tried to crack down or use this to gather information about dissidents. Citizen Lab, a Toronto-based cyberspace security outfit, said in late June that it had detected specialised spyware being used in Saudi Arabia — the first time it has seen such sophisticated software in that country. Unlike basic surveillance software, the software can also transform the device into a monitoring tool by switching on and controlling the camera and microphone, without the user noticing.
Protest and Social Movements: A Sine Qua Non For Democracy, by Cristina Flesher Fominaya and Lawrence Cox
Not enough attention has been paid to alternative media by social movements and the importance of media use to internal communication. Another problem has been a tendency to analyze online political participation separately from off-line participation and to ignore the relationships between digital media and other media in on and offline participation. Activists know that managing to get a topic on Twitter does not necessarily translate into people on the streets. So there is a danger of using things like Twitter as a proxy for movement participation.
Five Things You Can Do About Gaza, by Defence for Children International Palestine
As the child death toll in Gaza soars past 200, many people want to support Gaza from a distance, but don’t know how. Here is a list of simple actions you can take.
#StopArmingIsrael: a call for a military embargo on Israel
Israel has once again unleashed the full force of its military against the captive Palestinian population, particularly in the besieged Gaza Strip, in an inhumane and illegal act of military aggression. Israel’s ability to launch such devastating attacks with impunity largely stems from the vast international military cooperation and arms trade that it maintains with complicit governments across the world. By importing and exporting arms to Israel and facilitating the development of Israeli military technology, governments are effectively sending a clear message of approval for Israel’s military aggression, including its war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.
Palestinian Artists Illustrate the Deadly Realities in Gaza, by Mariam Elba
A Palestinian blogger from Gaza, Refaat Alareer has been collecting digital altercations of photos of Israeli airstrikes exploding over their communities. Within the clouds of smoke and debris are various pictures. Some contain nationalist Palestinian symbols, others simple drawings of faces. These faces range from having solemn expressions to those that are crying over the destruction below them. This is a trending art form called “smoke art photography.” These photos have been shared widely on social media and are windows into the dreams and imagination of Palestinian youth living under constant siege. Many of these works are anonymous. This is not the only time we have seen Palestinians turn reminders of their besiegement into art. We can look to examples such as Palestinians in the West Bank turning the tear gas canisters shot at them into potted plants, or young Palestinians practicing parkour using the dense neighborhoods they live in as obstacles.
Art for the sake of life: the history of Palestine`s Freedom Theatre, by Johanna Wallin and Zoe Lafferty
Over nine hundred Palestinians and forty Israelis have been killed in “Operation Protective Edge”. Yet despite the violence, the Palestinian Freedom Theatre continues its project of cultural resistance. It started in a Palestinian refugee camp in 2006, to use culture as a form of resistance against oppression. People who had been denounced as terrorists began to express themselves through theatre productions, short films, magazines and photographs. Leaving their guns at the door, an ensemble of artists, cultural workers and storytellers was created.
Syria’s Exiled Artists, by Angela Robson
The largest concentration of exiled Syrian painters, singers, filmmakers and artists is in Lebanon. Many artists dare not return because of the risk of arrest, torture or attack. Some use art as catharsis, making sense out of chaos; others are continuing the revolution with art as a weapon against the regime, and an antidote to the terror that groups like ISIL (the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) are spreading across the region.
Shout Art Loud: Tackling Harassment in Egypt Through Art, by Melody Patry
In the past three years Egypt has witnessed a dramatic increase in both the number of cases of sexual harassment against women and the level of violence and in response, Egypt last month approved a new law criminalizing sexual harassment for the first time. While it took until June 2014 for the Egyptian authorities to amend the law and criminalize sexual harassment and sexual assault, projects to report and denounce sexual violence have multiplied since 2011 — and artistic expression is a driving force in campaigns for change. Index on Censorship, an international organization that promotes and defends free expression, is exploring how Egyptians are using art to tackle the issue of sexual harassment and violence through a new interactive documentary. Through examples of theatre, street art, comic strips, and even rap music, it shows artists’ ability to break taboos and challenge deep-rooted social stereotypes at a time when civil society is pushing for action to fight impunity and “end the social acceptability of sexual harassment and assault in Egypt.”
Tools of Protest: Disobedient Objects, the V&A’s Subversive New Show, by Oliver Wainwright
From the pan lid that helped topple four presidents to the giant inflatable cobblestone that leaves police baffled, a fascinating new exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London celebrates the most unlikely protest objects. A battered pan lid sits next to a crudely printed teacup, alongside other odds and ends that look more like the sort of stuff you`d pick up in a jumble sale than exhibits you`d expect to see at a national museum. Yet these humble bits and bobs have helped to win rights, change laws and even topple governments. While shows of activist art are not uncommon, this is the first major exhibition to focus on the actual instruments of direct action. The exhibition also brings together objects that show how movements have learned from each other around the world.
Conferences & Events
The Role of Diasporas, Migrants, and Exiles in the Arab Revolutions and Political Transitions, WAFAW Conference, 15-17 October 2014, Tunis, Tunisia.
Call for Papers: Conference on Impact of Arab Uprisings on Citizenship in Arab World, 12-14 November, University of Balamand, Lebanon.
Beyond the Arab Uprisings: Rediscovering the MENA region, Annual Conference of the Italian Society for Middle Eastern Studies, 16-17 January 2015, Ca’ Foscari University, Venice, Italy.
Call for Contributions: Translation and the Many Languages of Resistance, 6-8 March, 2015, Cairo, Egypt. (Deadline: 15 September 2014)