Readings

Where I lazily dump links to recent articles and a few notes.

- I know I can be a bit of a grouch about the American (and other) media. Actually I think the US press, especially magazines, is the finest in English -- better, in general, than Britain's in terms of the resources it devotes to serious reporting (the best newsmag is still the Economist, though.) And I certainly like the New Yorker (well apart from the fiction and cartoons and the celebrity worship). But David Remnick's recent article on the 1967 war is a case in point about bias on the Israeli-Arab conflict. The entire article discusses the emotions Israelis felt about the war -- the elation when reaching the Wailing Wall, the military planning, the change the war caused among Jews around the world and Israel's image. But there is nary a mention of the impact on the Arab world generally or the Palestinians specifically. Even if this is a book review of Tom Segev's 1967, which is about Israel, considering that the article is by the editor and came out on the fortieth anniversary of the conflict, something doesn't quite feel right. Luckily, the same issue has a great article on Tintin and another good one on Turkmenistan.

- Similarly, the Economist's coverage (it's on the cover this week) is interesting but displays the same bias in the leader (but the reporting is excellent as always on the conflict). Also don't miss the Economist's original reporting, which is a great example of the symbolic impact of the war and Israel's triumph in the Western media at the time.

- Iraqi Refugees Turn to the Sex Trade in Syria:

Mouna Asaad, a Syrian women’s rights lawyer, said the government had been blindsided by the scale of the arriving Iraqi refugee population. Syria does not require visas for citizens of Arab countries, and its government had pledged to assist needy Iraqis. But this country of 19 million was ill equipped to cope with the sudden arrival of hundreds of thousands of them, Ms. Asaad said.

“Sometimes you see whole families living this way, the girls pimped by the mother or aunt,” she said. “But prostitution isn’t the only problem. Our schools are overcrowded, and the prices of services, food and transportation have all risen. We don’t have the proper infrastructure to deal with this. We don’t have shelters or health centers that these women can go to. And because of the situation in Iraq, Syria is careful not to deport these women.”
Incidentally I am in Jordan at the moment. Yesterday I asked my taxi driver how many people lived in Amman (which is a very spread out city). He answered: "Four million. And one million Iraqis."

- Not entirely unrelated to the above, Egypt To Send 120,000 Women To Saudi As Maids:

Cairo, Egypt (AHN) - The Egyptian Minister of Labor, Aisha Abdel Hady, has signed an agreement with Saudi Arabia to send 120,000 young Egyptian women to work as maids. The signing has angered local dailies, who called the accord "a scandal" and "part of the Gulf's plan to humiliate Egypt."
- Arab powers seen taking over P.A.:

Egypt and Jordan eventually will be required to keep order in the Palestinian Authority, an Israeli official predicted.

Cabinet Minister Rafi Eitan of the Pensioners Party said Monday that Israel's current fight against Hamas will lead to foreign intervention in the Gaza Strip akin to the boosted deployment of peacekeepers in southern Lebanon after last year's war with Hezbollah.

"Today Hezbollah is no longer on our border," Eitan told Israel Radio. "The same thing, sooner or later, will happen in the Gaza Strip, with the senior partner in such a force being Egypt, because it has no choice.”

Eitan added, “We are getting there gradually; we are aiming toward that. And the same will happen in Judea and Samaria with Jordan."

Egypt controlled Gaza and Jordan controlled the West Bank before Israel captured the territories in the 1967 Six-Day War. Egypt has been active in trying to stabilize Gaza, while there have been reports in the Israeli media of a Jordan plan to re-establish administrative rule in the West Bank.
- More Muslim Brothers arrested as Egypt gets closer to the Shura Council elections. That makes it nearly 80 in the last two weeks, as well as two MPs who had their immunity lifted and the 34 facing trial in a military tribunal.

- From conservative French paper Le Figaro, just because I like the headline: Les Teletubbies sont-ils gays?

- Via Kafr al-Hanadwa, the Swiss vs. the minarets:

Across the country, there are only two small minarets, one in Zurich and one in Geneva, neither of which are permitted to make the call to prayer. In Switzerland’s capital Berne, the largest mosque is in a former underground car park…

Mutalip Karaademi, an ethnic Albanian who has lived in Switzerland for 26 years, was at first pleased when his proposal for a 5m-high (16.5ft) minaret was approved by the local authority.

But following a vociferous campaign against the plans, including a petition with thousands of signatures, the cantonal government in Berne delayed the project indefinitely. …

“We don’t have anything against Muslims,” said Oskar Freysinger, member of parliament for the Swiss People’s Party.

“But we don’t want minarets. The minaret is a symbol of a political and aggressive Islam, it’s a symbol of Islamic law. The minute you have minarets in Europe it means Islam will have taken over."
Nice moral posturing from a country whose purpose appears to be giving financial refuge to war criminals and genocidal maniacs.

- Great Satan sits down with the Axis of Evil.