[This is a monthly roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on Resistance, Subversion and Social Mobilization 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 & Commentaries
The Storytellers of Syria: Displaced Women Keep Tradition and History Alive with Folktales, by Catherine Cartier
Cartier interviews Syrian women in Jordan about maintaining the tradition of oral storytelling, drawing upon lived experiences combined with a long history of literature and folklore. Aisha talks about sharing stories with children at a preschool group, while Hiba suggests that her storytelling is to purposefully communicate a moral value or inspire others. While there are initiatives such as Timeless Tales, a bilingual anthology of folk-tales, to preserve this tradition, stories are vulnerable to disappearance in the context of forced displacement–which makes storytelling gatherings even more necessary and precious.
“Kafala Is Slavery:” Protesters March for Domestic Workers’ Right, by Nicholas Frakes
On 25 June, hundreds of protesters marched in Beirut calling for an end to the kafala, or sponsorship, system, and “the protection of rights for domestic worker, who face increasing abuse by employers and recruitment agencies.”
Saudis Arrest Another Women’s Right Activist, by Al Jazeera
Saudi Arabia has arrested Hatoon al-Fassi, a Saudi women’s rights activist and writer, as part of its crackdown on activists in the kingdom. “Considered a leading figure in women's rights in the region, and the kingdom, in particular, al-Fassi has long been fighting for the rights of Saudi women, including their right to participate in municipal elections.”
Champions on Crutches: Palestinians Form First Amputee Football Team in Gaza, by Maha Hussaini
In 2018, the Palestine Amputee Football Association was established. It is an initiative that highlights Palestinians’ “desire to live rather than get killed.” “Ten of the thirteen members on the team suffered amputations due to injuries sustained from Israel’s three military operations targeting the Gaza Strip between 2008-14. Others were victims of shelling incidents that have occurred sporadically since the beginning of the blockade Israel imposed on the strip in 2007.” The “Champions Team” aim to compete in international championships by challenging their current situations and breaking common stereotypes about the disabled.
“Resistance Is Female:” Gaza Women Protest for Their Right of Return, by Maha Hussaini
On 3 July, hundreds of Palestinian women and girls held the “Palestinian Women for the Return and Breaking the Siege” protest near the eastern fence separating Gaza from Israel. In the article, many Palestinian women of all ages describe the role of women in the resistance and in raising their children to defend their rights.
Gaza Women Fight for Fairer, Faster Divorces, by Ahmad Melhem
Through the experiences of Rima and Tamara, Melhem describes the difficulty for women living in Gaza to obtain a divorce and the bureaucracy and legal procedures set up to pressure them into waiving their rights. Women’s Health Center launched a campaign to address the slow and patriarchal proceedings of the courts, as part of an overall program to combat increasing gender-based violence against girls and displaced women in Gaza.
Palestinian Activists Slam Draft Law Prohibiting Filming of Israeli Forces, by Yumna Patel
On 17 June, the Israeli Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved a controversial bill calling for a “maximum five-year prison term for anyone photographing, recording or disturbing Israeli army activity on social media with ‘the aim of hurting the soldiers’ spirit,’ and up to ten years for anyone convicted of ‘seeking to harm national security.’” But for Palestinians the camera “reflects only the truth, and is a peaceful weapon” that they use against Israel’s violence.
Khan Al-Ahmar: Israel’s Top Court Freezes Demolition of Palestinian Village, by Middle East Eye
On 5 July, “Israel’s Supreme Court ordered a pause on the demolition of the Palestinian Bedouin town of Khan al-Ahmar in the occupied West Bank […]. Israel has faced mounting international condemnation as its security forces continued preparations to demolish the town.” However, it is believed that the order means just a postponement of the demolition.
“A Watershed Moment in Palestinian History:” Interview with Jamal Juma’, by Ida Audeh
Author Ida Audeh interviews Palestinian activist Jamal Juma' on the resistance in recent months in Gaza. As coordinator of the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Juma' has noticed a significant change in US/Israeli policy in Palestine since Trump's presidency, calling it a "watershed moment in Palestinian history." Juma' also discusses Trump's "deal of the century," popular mobilization is both Gaza and the West Bank, and challenges faced by Palestinian leadership.
The Siege and Resistance in Gaza: Interview with Toufic Haddad, by Omar Hassa
In this interview, Toufic Haddad analyzes the political and economic context that led to the recent protests in Gaza. According to Haddad, “the international order has been deaf to the cries of Gaza, so these protests de facto represent a prison riot that is attempting to put Gaza back on the table, after Western governments and Israel, together with the Arab order, thought they could bury it in a debilitating siege, and through isolation.”
Morocco: Public Outrage Over Heavy Prison Terms for Leaders of “Hirak” Protest Movement, by Agence France Press
On 27 June, Moroccans demonstrated in condemnation of the heavy prison sentences handed down to leaders of the “Hirak Rif” movement. “At the end of a nine-month trial, leader of the movement Nasser Zefzafi and three of his compatriots were sentenced to twenty years in prison for ‘undermining state security.’”
Unhappiness and Mohamed Salah’s Egypt, by Amro Ali
Mohamed Saleh is described to be more than just a hero of football, but also as a figure who has a political voice without talking politics. Saleh's popularity came when he was offered a luxury villa, which he politely declined and suggested that a donation to his village Nagrig in Gharbia would make him happier. For this move and the many charitable stories that emerged, Saleh garnered respect and international recognition for Egypt through his individual moral code.
Cross-Dressers Lead a Musical Revival, by Mariam Qamar
A band called "Cabaret al-Shaikhat" (Folk Divas) is leading a musical revival of aita music, traditional Bedouin folk music, in Morocco. The group held its first performance in 2016 and since then, their popularity has grown. The male band members seek to preserve and re-popularize aita, all the while dressed in women's traditional clothing and makeup.
On the Swift Un-Banning of Karma, and the Popular Notion of the “Dissident Artist,” by Hakim Abdel Naim
In June 2018, filmmaker and public figure Khaled Youssef’s latest and first post-2011 film, Karma, had its screening permit withdrawn and then revoked quickly. This incident is not exceptional from the history of arts and culture censorship in Egypt, by institutions such as the Censorship Board. Yet Youssef's ability to toe the line between being a “dissident artist” and “standing by his country” suggests that this incident is indeed exceptional through the ways that he has been able to engage with authorities.
Amid a Civil War, These Syrians Keep Dancing, by Heather Brady
“Dare” is a group of young dancers in Latakia, Syria, that hopes to inspire change in the face of the conflict.
New Books & Reviews
Jordan and the Arab Uprisings: Regime Survival and Politics Beyond the State, by Curtis R. Ryan
In this book, professor of political science, Curtis Ryan asks why and how Jordan remained relatively stable amidst significant changes and challenges brought about by the Arab spring. Curtis looks at the political environment in Jordan during mass mobilizations in the region and at the various tactics utilized by the monarchy in order to survive.
The Warrior and the Pacifist: Competing Motifs in Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, edited by Lester R. Kurtz
“This book looks at two contradictory ethical motifs—the warrior and the pacifist—across four major faith traditions—Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—and their role in shaping our understanding of violence and the morality of its use.”
Events & Conferences
PALFEST, 7 July 2018, London, United Kingdom
Political Violence in Syria: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives, 14-15 September 2018, Ultrecht University, Netherlands. (Call for Papers Deadline: 15 April 2018)
Cinema-Going in The Arab World: Exhibition, Distribution, and Audiences, 14-15 September 2018, Netherlands-Flemish Institute, Cairo, Egypt. (Call for Papers Deadline: 30 April 2018).
Workshop: Digital Media, Islam, and Politics in the Middle East, 28-29 September 2018, University of Basel, Switzerland. (Deadline for Applications: 5 July 2018)
The Biannual Conference of the Middle East Studies Forum: Trump and the Middle East, 29-31 October 2018, Deakin University Burwood, Victoria, Australia.
Contemporary Amman and the Right to the City, 3-4 November 2018, Institut français du Proche-Orient, Columbia Global Centers | Amman, and Studio X-Amman, Amman, Jordan.