Links for Feb 18-25 2010

 A collection of observations, and the usual links.

✩ Take a look at how long it takes for Roger Cohen to come to this modest conclusion:

It's time for Obama to ask such tough questions in public and demand of Israel that it work in practice to share the land rather than divide and rule it.

✩ ElBaradei as Don Quixote. ElBaradei meets Amr Moussa. ElBaradei forms coalition for change (but no heavy-hitters there). Magdi Gallad, the editor of al-Masri al-Youm, worries that ElBaradei might lose his significanceAndrew Sullivan calls the movement behind ElBaradei "the green of Egypt" and potentially sees it as " a slo-mo Arab version of the Iranian democracy protests -- and unlike in Iran, the US can actually have an impact here." 

✩ A UNICEF report on child poverty in Egypt finds poor children deprived of many rights. Also, another report says there are diminishing opportunities for Egypt's youth.

✩ How social networking theories were used to track down and capture Saddam Hussein.

✩ Disputes among Brothers ahead of parliamentary elections as Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh proposes a 20-year moratorium against electoral participation. It makes sense that things have reached this point, for now while some Brothers have political careers to think about, the costs of participation are prohibitively high and the rewards very uncertain for the group. But a boycott would best work symbolically if it was joined by the other parties.

✩ The ElBaradei campaign Facebook group is growing at 13 new members per minute.

✩ We haven't always been fans of the reporting of the LAT's Jeffrey Fleishman. But his recent stories on ordinary Egyptian lives scarred by suicide or police torture are extremely well done vignettes. Kudos to him for writing about this stuff as well as the big picture — both are essential and these types of stories will sensitize American audiences to the lives of ordinary people in the region (and their tax money's role in making them worse).

✩ Italian journalist Paola Caridi's book on Hamas is now available in English. Here's the blurb:

The book tells the story of Hamas using a combination of news and archival sources, describing settings, and giving voice to its protagonists. And, for the first time, it tries to reveal some of the unknown characteristics of an organization that in some ways is still clandestine or that has, over the last few years, gone back to being partially secret. There are well-known issues such as terrorism. But there is also the much less well-known aspect of welfare, set up well before the rise of a Hamas presence from within the social and religious framework of the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood. There is the political organization, structured like mass-based European parties. And then there are the militants, the leaders, the silent supporters and those many Palestinians who voted for Hamas without sharing its ideology. Putting together all these pieces reveals a far more complex picture than the one described by the media so far.

✩ It's illegal for migrant workers in Israel to have children. Migrant workers are terribly treated in much of the Arab world, but at least there's no legislation against reproduction.

✩ More trouble with settlers and Israeli expansionism in Hebron.

Why do I boycott Israel?

✩ Is Arabic a dying language? No, but patterns of education have marginalized it.

✩ The rise and rise of Ben Ali's son-in-law in Tunisian business.

✩ Son of Hamas leader spied for Israel, converted to Christianity and now lives in California:

He is the son of Sheikh Hassan Yousef, a senior Hamas figure from the occupied West Bank who was a Palestinian MP and is now in an Israeli jail serving a six-year term. Yousef junior supplied intelligence to the Shin Bet during the height of the second intifada, the Palestinian uprising that began in late 2000, and according to Ha'aretz his information led to the arrest of two senior Hamas figures, Ibrahim Hamid and Abdullah Barghouti, as well as the influential Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti.

Khali balak min al-brobaganda, though.

✩ This book looks interesting: For Better, For Worse: The Marriage Crisis That Made Modern Egypt.

✩ Gallup poll on desire for emigration in the Arab world

Young Arabs who have a job are more likely than those who do not to express the desire to emigrate permanently. Across Arab League member countries surveyed, 31% of respondents who already work full time compared with 17% who are not in the workforce say they would like to leave their country permanently, if they had the opportunity.

✩ Another Gallup poll: American perceptions of countries prominent in US foreign policy. 58% favorable to Egypt, 67% favorable to Israel, 35% favorable to Saudi and 10% favorable to Iran.

Israelis don't like to see Palestinian growth, even when it's not even in their country:

Right-wing activists have begun organizing a campaign against the new Palestinian city of Rawabi, which recently began taking shape in the West Bank. The activists claim the new city will cause traffic jams, pollution, security issues and will only benefit Palestinian elites. 

And then some more:

Comment

Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.