Links for 10.29.09 to 10.31.09

Daily News Egypt - In Focus: The Brotherhood Crisis | Khalil al-Anani's take on the Brothers' troubles. ✪ Frontlines: Who will be the next leader of Egypt? | Front Lines - the week that was | Jerusalem Post | Funny how much traction Amr Moussa's comments have made in Israel, where they remember vividly his criticism of Israel. ✪ Is this the man to follow Mubarak as Egypt's next president? | World news | guardian.co.uk | On Amr Moussa. ✪ Powerful Islamic movement sees leadership struggle | On MB's woes. ✪ War and Peace | New blog from Rob of Arabic Media Shack, focusing on war, history and strategy. ✪ Lesson Unlearned | Foreign Policy | Nir Rosen says the 1983 attacks on Us Marines in Beirut was the fault of senior Reagan officials who intervened in Lebanon's civil war on the side of Christian militias. ✪ A Witness In Palestine | Anna Baltzer, Jewish-American pro-peace activist. ✪ A search engine with a mind on settlements | Antony Loewenstein | I'm switching to Bing, and I hate Microsoft: "Jewish Billionaire, Sergey Brin, one of the founders of Google, donated $1 million to the so-called Hebrew national Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) which heavily encourages Jews around the world to immigrate to Israel and the United States. The organization is one of the biggest supporters of illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories." ✪ In Afghan Village, French Outreach Yields an Ambush - WSJ.com | On French Foreign legion in Afghanistan: "Some Legionnaires, like a pensive Italian art history graduate, had enlisted for adventure. Others, like a thin Estonian, signed up to escape potentially lethal problems at home. The Legion wipes out minor criminal records and provides new identities and a French passport in exchange for a five-year contract. "Believe me, I feel safer here in Afghanistan," the Estonian said." ✪ Alaa Al-Aswany: When women are sinners in the eyes of extremists - Commentators, Opinion - The Independent | On Somalia and extremism, among other things. ✪ BBC NEWS | Technology | Egypt seeks ethical mobile users | Code says "don't annoy people by having loud conversations", "choose non-annoying ringtone", etc. Akhiran! Wonder if it says, "Don't sit at qahwa trying different ringtones for an hour" or "Answer phone quickly or put it on silent rather than stare at it for 10 rings". ✪ Squaring the circle and erasing the margins | Good commentary on the recent J Street conference. ✪ YouTube - ‫لقاء اليوم - ريتشارد غولدستون‬‎ | Khaled Daoud interviews Richard Goldstone on al-Jazeera. ✪ Lebanon: Israel arranged Katyusha fire to keep tensions high - Haaretz - Israel News | Suleiman was praised by West before, will he be listened to now: "Lebanese President Michel Suleiman on Thursday suggested that Israel had arranged for collaborators in his country to fire Katyusha rockets at the Galilee earlier this week, in a bid to keep tensions high in the area." ✪ 'Israel's Self-Described Greatest Concern' - Jeffrey Goldberg | More poisonous Jeffrey Goldberg: anti-Zionist Jews are not real jews, they're anti-Zionists with Jewish parents; the Leveretts are apologists for Tehran. No sense of irony here about Golberg's sycophancy towards Bibi Netanyahu here. ✪ West Bank land belongs to Jews, says Israeli army judge | These people are insane: ""But over the past quarter of a century, the Israeli army lawyer and then military judge at the forefront of arguably the most significant battle in the occupied West Bank – the confiscation of Palestinian land for the construction of Jewish settlements – has come to see himself as in service of a higher duty. In an unusually frank interview, which offers insights into the melding of religion, politics and law that underpins land seizures in the occupied territories, Agassi has laid out his belief that Israel has a biblical claim to territory beyond its borders and that he, even as an immigrant, has a right to live on it when those born there do not. `When we [Israelis] say that this is a political conflict, then we lose the battle,` he told the Guardian, adding that it should be remembered that the ancient land of Israel is `given to us by the Bible, not by some United Nations`. ✪ Tens of Thousands of Palestinian Children at Risk of Forced Displacement in OPT | "Whilst most attention has focused on home demolitions and community evictions, new research by the children`s charity Save The Children has revealed intolerable living conditions are driving families to abandon their land and homes, even though most will be worse off once they do so."
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Sundry items on the Goldstone report

Good interview with Goldstone on Al Jazeera English: Here's the second part: Zeev Sternhell writes in Haaretz:
It is not the Goldstone report that has opened another painful phase in the erosion of Israel's credibility, but rather the cavalier attitude here toward the heavy Palestinian losses. In broad circles of Western European and American intelligentsia - in the universities and among cultural and media figures - Israel arouses ever-deepening hostility.
The London Review of Books' Adam Shatz writes about the "mobile phone wars" behind Mahmoud Abbas' early decision to postpone consideration of the Goldstone report:
In the Western press, Abbas’s blunder was widely described as an act of realpolitik that backfired in the court of public opinion, but the real story may have more to do with a mobile-phone company called Wataniya, a joint venture set up by a group of investors from Kuwait and Qatar (57 per cent share) and the Palestine Investment Fund (43 per cent), whose head is Abbas’s chief economic adviser, Mohammad Mustafa. In July 2008, Tony Blair brokered a deal between the PA and Israel that would have allowed Wataniya to become Palestine’s second mobile-phone operator, with a bandwidth of 4.8 MHz; the launch date was meant to be 15 October this year. In divided Palestine, economic development is factional politics: Wataniya had to succeed, if only to provide proof that Palestinians are better off under the PA in the West Bank than in Hamas-controlled Gaza. It’s an argument Netanyahu has also been keen to make, in the hopes that middle-class West Bankers can be bought off, the Gazans forgotten, and statehood consigned to oblivion. But on 15 September, Richard Goldstone released his findings. According to Jonathan Cook in the National, Israel warned Abbas that unless the Palestinian Authority withdrew its draft resolution on the report, it would deny Wataniya all of its radio frequencies; the PA promptly fell into line, requesting a six-month delay on the resolution. It isn’t hard to imagine what Abbas and his associates were thinking: if the deal collapsed, the PA would have to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties, and would also suffer a major loss in investment and jobs (more than 2000). Why should war crimes in Gaza get in the way of the West Bank telecommunications industry? Couldn’t this wait another six months? The PA made its second U-turn, in response to Palestinian public opinion, on 6 October: the resolution on the Goldstone Report wouldn’t be postponed after all. On 15 October, the day Wataniya was set to launch, Israel ‘re-awarded’ it 3.8 MHz of airwave frequency spectrum. This was still 1 MHz shy of the 4.8 MHz it needs to be fully operational – Israel’s three major mobile-phone firms each have between 20 and 46 MHz. Why the shortfall? Israeli officials say it’s because the PA has failed to honour certain unnamed ‘commitments’; one of those commitments may have been deferring to its wishes on Goldstone.
Harpers' Ken Silverstein interviews Desmond Travers, one of the four members of the UN fact-finding mission led by Goldstone:
4. Critics have also said that Hamas deliberately inserted its fighters among civilians and that doing so increased the civilian toll. Did you find that to be the case? We found no evidence that Hamas used civilians as hostages. I had expected to find such evidence but did not. We also found no evidence that mosques were used to store munitions. Those charges reflect Western perceptions in some quarters that Islam is a violent religion. Gaza is densely populated and has a labyrinth of makeshift shanties and a system of tunnels and bunkers. If I were a Hamas operative the last place I’d store munitions would be in a mosque. It’s not secure, is very visible, and would probably be pre-targeted by Israeli surveillance. There are a many better places to store munitions. We investigated two destroyed mosques—one where worshippers were killed—and we found no evidence that either was used as anything but a place of worship. There is a sinister and foolish notion among certain proponents of insurgency warfare that to fight an insurgency means that civilians will inevitably be killed. But if you give the state authority to be indiscriminate with the lives of civilians in pursuing insurgents, it plays into the hands of the insurgents. Dead bodies are grist to the insurgents’ mill: if the dead are on your side they represent insurgent victories and if the dead are on their side then they have martyrs. 5. What is your view of the claim by Israeli officials that the IDF is the most “moral” army in the world? Given the tactics, the weapons used, and the indiscriminate targeting, I think this is a dubious claim. 6. What other issues do you think need to be addressed? We were disturbed by the lethality and toxicity of weapons used in Gaza, some of which have been in Western arsenals since the Cold War, such as white phosphorous, which incinerated 14 people, including several children in one attack; flechettes, small darts that are designed to tumble upon entering human flesh in order to cause maximum damage, strictly in breach of the Geneva Convention; and highly carcinogenic tungsten shrapnel and dime munitions, which contain tungsten in powder form. There is also a whole cocktail of other problematic munitions suspected to have been used. There are a number of other post-conflict issues in Gaza that need to be addressed. The land is dying. There are toxic deposits from all the munitions that have been dropped. There are serious issues with water—its depletion and its contamination. There is a high instance of nitrates in the soil that is especially dangerous to children. If these issues are not addressed, Gaza may not even be habitable by World Health Organization norms.
I have to say that while I appreciate Judge Goldstone's professionalism (as shown in various interviews), I find it rather inappropriate for him to keep on repeating that he is a Zionist and loves Israel (as he has done on occasion.) Not just because, for me, Zionist is a dirty word that implies racism and the denial of the existence of a Palestinian people. But rather because Goldstone and his peers are meant to be professional assessors of the recent conflict in Gaza; they should keep their political views to themselves.
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Arab Knowledge Report 2009

AKR09_Full_English.jpg The Arab Knowledge Report 2009 is out. From the press release:
Dubai – Arab societies need nurturing institutions and supportive policies to experience a significant boost in knowledge production and creation, according to The Arab Knowledge Report 2009. The report, launched today, maintains that political, institutional, cultural and intellectual reforms, as well as reform of the media and information technologies are vital if Arab societies are to bridge the knowledge gap. The Arab Knowledge Report 2009: Towards productive intercommunication for knowledge, emphasises two central and mutually dependent premises. The first is the connection between knowledge, development and freedom. The second is the close relationship between the demands of development and the building of the knowledge society. “With solid commitment and long-term vision, the route to the knowledge society will not be impossible,” asserted Adel El Shared, Vice Chairman and Managing Director of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation. “This is what we have sought to achieve over the past two years, emphasizing our commitment to the purpose and objectives for which the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation was established – strengthening the knowledge economy in the Arab world, which can only be achieved through close cooperation with serious partners who share our vision and objectives. Today we are happy to launch the fruit of such a collaborative effort with UNDP: the Arab Knowledge Report 2009: Towards productive intercommunication for knowledge,” he elaborated. The Report addresses the factors that impede the establishment of a knowledge society in the Arab world and assesses the state of education, information and communication technologies, research and innovation in the region. It concludes with a roadmap for action so that the Arab world can integrate itself in a rapidly globalising knowledge society.
via Brian Whitaker. Here's the link to the full 300+ page report in PDF. Glancing quickly through the report, and as the PR blurb above shows, much of the report is about creating a "knowledge society" and developing ICT. It contains a lot of turgid language about moving towards that. I would have liked to see (but may very well have missed in the report) a section looking at syllabus content, teaching techniques, and why so many countries that have expressed a need for primary and secondary educational reform have thus far done so little (and also the politics of teachers and reforming teachers' training, a big issue in Morocco and Egypt and I'm sure elsewhere.)
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Mustafa Barghouti on Daily Show

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive - Anna Baltzer & Mustafa Barghouti Extended Interview Pt. 1
www.thedailyshow.com
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And here's the second part:
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive - Anna Baltzer & Mustafa Barghouti Extended Interview Pt. 2
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
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Due to the sheer insanity of the pro-Israel community in America, this pro-peace, pro-nonviolence interview has generated tons of protests. The guest alongside Dr. Barghouti, Anna Baltzer, writes:
Anna Baltzer: Daily Show needs letters of support for having Barghouti & me on Dear friends, Last night Dr. Barghouti and I were on “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart talking about Palestine. The show was overwhelmed with angry emails and phone calls prior to the appearance, and up until the last minute it seemed like they might cancel. During the taping the show had it's only heckler in 11 years. The entire staff was very nervous and may come to regret the monumental decision (and not make it again) as they will surely be inundated now that the show has aired. That is why it is CRUCIAL that the show receive letters of support from anyone who appreciated the interview.
Once again, kudos for Jon Stewart for having these people on. Update: Angry Arab writes that Anna Baltzer had large chunks of the interview edited out:
The show was overwhelmed with angry emails and phone calls prior to the appearance, and up until the last minute it seemed like they might cancel. During the taping the show had it's only heckler in 11 years.The entire staff were very nervous and may come to regret the monumental decision (and not make it again) as they will surely be inundated now that the show has aired..Many of you who watched the show on TV noticed that everything of real substance that I said was edited out. The major issues cut out were (1) the US role in aiding Israel, (2) the lack of adequate coverage in mainstream US media, and (3) the Palestinian-led movement for Boycott / Divestment / Sanctions (BDS) to nonviolently pressure Israel to comply with international law."
Stewart has done a lot in the past to get a sane view of the conflict on the air, in his modest way (after all he is on Comedy Central and never claims to be a serious news journalist.) It's a shame if one of the most daring shows on mainstream US television is really this terrified of talking about the US-Israel relationship and BDS.
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Cairo 2010

Thanks to Laila Lalami's blog for pointing us to this very very interesting introduction by Brian T. Edwards (a professor of literature at Northwestern University) to an issue of the magazine Public Space dedicated to contemporary Egyptian fiction. Edwards has spent a lot of time in the offices of one of our favourite publishers, Merit, and it was a pleasure to read him describe the often irreverent, sometimes impassioned and always smoke-wreathed atmosphere there. The issue focuses on the work of young Egyptian writers like Ahmad Al Aidi (the author of Being Abbas Al Abd), Magdy Shafee (the author of Metro) and other authors whose titles I've noticed but who I'm not familiar with. Edwards tentatively classifies this generation of authors as "Cairo 2010" and sees something distinct in "the way they encounter and depict the Cairo of today, the globally inflected and locally congested space of the megalopolis." I tend to question the inclusion of Mohammed Al Fakharani, whose novel فاصل للدهشة I studied closely in my Masters thesis research, and which, while fascinating if you're interested in the contemporary tropes about عشوائيات (Cairo's informal neighborhoods, or slums), is sloppy and melodramatic both in its social analysis and its writing. On the other hand, I am now eager to find out more about many of the other authors mentioned by Edwards. Unfortunately it's all only available with subscription.
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Links for 10.28.09

FT.com / Middle East - Wait goes on for Dubai’s £10bn bond | "Where is Dubai’s $10bn bond? The question has been making the rounds in Dubai business circles, as bankers and executives wonder when the emirate will bite the bullet and ask the United Arab Emirates central bank – which is bankrolled by Abu Dhabi – for the second tranche of a $20bn bail-out agreed earlier this year." ✪ FT.com / China / Economy & Trade - Qatar targets increased gas exports to China | China hydrocarbons imports from ME increase. ✪ Almasry Alyoum | Standing Up To Garbage | Interesting story about garbage collection problem, reveals govt. spending very little, military stepping in with recycling. ✪ Almasry Alyoum | NDP Promotes Gamal Mubarak On Facebook | Facebook users paid LE1500 to promote Gamal. ✪ Brown: Asking the wrong questions about Palestinian elections | Marc Lynch | Makes some good points about elections in the Arab world in general and the Palestinian ones in particular. ✪ Dar Al Hayat - The “Brotherhoodization” of the Arab World | Argues MB arrests only reinforce ideological core of the group and increases its popularity, allowing them to spread their intolerant populist message rather than engage in genuine politics. ✪ Arab winds of change | Brian Whitaker | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk | Whitaker provides a short take on his new book, which I will be reviewing shortly: the Arab malaise is not just the regimes, but also the people. ✪ The disabled Palestinian standup helping refugees find their funny side | Stage | The Guardian | Very nice story on Palestinian disabled standupcomics: "I am officially the most oppressed person in the world," Maysoon Zayid recently told an audience in California. "I'm a Palestinian Muslim with cerebral palsy." ✪ Israel rations Palestinians to trickle of water | Amnesty International | Amnesty's report on Israel cutting off water to Gaza. ✪ Envisioning an alternative Egypt, post-Mubarak - Haaretz - Israel News | Zvi Barel on Heikal and succession. ✪ bt - Waiting for a Trickle | "The boom, spurred by private and foreign direct investment, has paid off primarily for the country’s richest, according to the new report by the General Authority for Investment (GAFI)." ✪ The Race for Iran | New blog about the geostrategy of Iran, contributors include Flynt and Hillary Everett. ✪ Gaza water supply at 'crisis point' | "Amnesty International says Israeli policies and practices are denying Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip their fair share of the region's scarce water supplies" ✪ Amr Bargisi and Samuel Tadros: Why Are Egypt's Liberals Anti-Semitic? - WSJ.com | WTF is the Egyptian Union of Liberal Youth? This argument is stupid, you take the liberals you have, not those you wish you had. And how do these people get into the WSJ op-ed page? ✪ Brother of Afghan Leader Is Said to Be on C.I.A. Payroll - NYTimes.com | No wonder Matthew Hoh resigned: "KABUL, Afghanistan — Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of the Afghan president and a suspected player in the country’s booming illegal opium trade, gets regular payments from the Central Intelligence Agency, and has for much of the past eight years, according to current and former American officials."
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(Very dark) "Tales from Dayrut"

Many years ago, our dear friend Robin Moger (a translator and Arabic professor today) came bounding out of his room in the Arabist household, waving a book and raving about an Egyptian writer he's just discovered and who he described as funny, dark, twisted and utterly original: Mohamed Mustagab. He made such a fuss over the guy that I never forgot the name. Last year, AUC Press put out the first translation of Mustagab's work into English, by the (seemingly omnipresent and omnipotent) Humphrey Davies. "Tales from Dayrut" includes stories from the collection "Dayrut el-Sherif" (Dayrut was Mustagab's hometown) and "The Secret History of Nu'man Abd al-Hafiz"--it's hard to know if the works have included in their entirety or have been excerpted (I suspect so) because there is no introduction. The late Mustagab, one of Egypt's great satirists, was born in Asyut in 1938 (he died in 2006). Mustagab was largely self-educated (he only had a high school degree). He moved to Cairo, found employment at the Academy of the Arabic Language, and published his first short story in 1969. Mustagab's work is indeed original to the point of being queer; dark to the point of being terrifying; and often wickedly funny. Some of the stories have mythical, magical elements, perhaps inspired by the way events are explained or recounted in the place of Mustagab's childhood. In other stories, the author takes life in his small, rural, upper-Egyptian home-town and exposes a fantasmagorically dark underside. In "Bughayli Bridge," a village policeman decides he wants to actually solve a murder, and has the river dredged--which leads to dozens of bodies, all the murder victims of recent memory, being fished out in front of the assembled and increasingly hysterical village. That story opens with this citation (from the back cover of the book), one of my favourites:
"From the beginning--and even long before the beginning--we have had to put our faith in the fact that fish dwell in water, bats in ruins, teachers in schools, peace of mind in death, foxes in fields, monks in monasteries, falsehood in books, seeds in cracks, poison in menstrual blood, and wisdom in the aftermath of events; and the best of you, good gentlemen, is the one who is spared either the wisdom or the events."
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Ross Douthat in NYT: Islam is Christianity's "most enduring and impressive foe."

Conservative American columnist Ross Douthat in a NYT op-ed on Anglican-Catholic reconciliation finds an occasion to allude to appeasement of Islamofascists, the Eurabia idiocy, and the idea of some epic Christian-Muslim battle being played out:
But in making the opening to Anglicanism, Benedict also may have a deeper conflict in mind — not the parochial Western struggle between conservative and liberal believers, but Christianity’s global encounter with a resurgent Islam. Here Catholicism and Anglicanism share two fronts. In Europe, both are weakened players, caught between a secular majority and an expanding Muslim population. In Africa, increasingly the real heart of the Anglican Communion, both are facing an entrenched Islamic presence across a fault line running from Nigeria to Sudan. Where the European encounter is concerned, Pope Benedict has opted for public confrontation. In a controversial 2006 address in Regensburg, Germany, he explicitly challenged Islam’s compatibility with the Western way of reason — and sparked, as if in vindication of his point, a wave of Muslim riots around the world. By contrast, the Church of England’s leadership has opted for conciliation (some would say appeasement), with the Archbishop of Canterbury going so far as to speculate about the inevitability of some kind of sharia law in Britain. There are an awful lot of Anglicans, in England and Africa alike, who would prefer a leader who takes Benedict’s approach to the Islamic challenge. Now they can have one, if they want him. This could be the real significance of last week’s invitation. What’s being interpreted, for now, as an intra-Christian skirmish may eventually be remembered as the first step toward a united Anglican-Catholic front — not against liberalism or atheism, but against Christianity’s most enduring and impressive foe.
My question is: would the NYT tolerate an op-ed describing any other religion like this? Would it not condemn, say, a Christian who describes Judaism's as Christianity's foe because of the old "Jews-killed-Jesus" trope some anti-Semites and Christian ultra-conservatives like to dish out?
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Links for 10.26.09 to 10.27.09

LRB · Nicolas Pelham: Diary | Nic Pelham's diary about Gaza. ✪ Almasry Alyoum | NDP Talks Youth | Second in a series on youth and the NDP in Egypt: “We have to use the Internet, especially with so many people trying to turn our achievements into failures and to tarnish the reputation of public symbols. We have to be present online to correct those misconceptions.” Now who could they be talking about? ✪ Almasry Alyoum| Gamal Mubarak: Nepotism "Unknown To Private Sector" | In this story, Gamal says nepotism "is part of Egyptian culture." You don't say. ✪ Chomsky Receives Highest Pentagon Honor | Chomsky book "Interventions" banned in Gitmo. ✪ YouTube - Slackistan Trailer | This is a good and funny idea - you could do it in the Arab world, too. ✪ Inanities: The Gamal Show | About Gamal's Sharek event: "The Gamal Show is Gamal Mubarak’s attempt to convince us that he’s Barack Obama." ✪ Bakchich: Interroger des… interrogatoires | Accounts of police interrogations of non-fasters in Morocco, interrogates them about Abou Bakr Jamai (prominent editor forced into exile), and more. Thoroughly depressing. ✪ Arab Media & Society | The end of the beginning: The failure of April 6th and the future of electronic activism in Egypt | About online activism, its failure so far, and how to move beyond cynicism. ✪ Almasry Alyoum | Gamal Mubarak And The Power Of Web 2.0 | First in a series of articles about the NDP's efforts to attract young Egyptians to politics. This one focuses on Gamal Mubarak's "Sharek" (Participate) online Q&A event. ✪ J Street's Ben-Ami On Zionism and Military Aid to Israel - Jeffrey Goldberg | A very revealing interview of J Street's Jeremy Ben-Ami which conirms my doubts about the whole project. ✪ Morocco press freedom on the decline, RSF study shows (Magharebia.com) | A marked increase in fines, imprisonement and intimidation of the press. ✪ Dar Al Hayat - A Presidential Battle without Candidates | Muhammad Salah on the Egyptian presidency.
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Beirut 39

The winners of the Beirut 39 competition (to select 39 talented Arab writers under 39) have been announced. But already there is a problem: two of the winners are Arab Israelis (Alaa' Hlehel and Adania Chibli) and since Israel and Lebanon are still technically at war, they are banned from traveling to Beirut. Hlehel told the Egyptian literary magazine Akhbar Al Adab that he is still deliberating whether to break the ban or not. Yet another example of how culturally cut-off Arab Israeli writers, whose publishers and audiences may reside in countries they can't visit.
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J Street Conference

You can follow it live via webcast on Jewcy. Some interesting discussions there, for instance on Goldstone panelists just said that Israel and the US had sabotaged Abu Mazen (by pressure to postpone Goldstone at the UN) so that they would be able to say there is no partner to negotiate with. This got applause. More videos and info on J Street's conference site.
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Links for 10.24.09 to 10.25.09

Power play - The National Newspaper | M. Bazzi on Saudi-Syrian relations. Weirdly makes no mention of Lebanon. ✪ Bikya Masr (BikyaMasr) on Twitter | Report: Ayman Nour attacked by security and NDP thugs in Hurghada. ✪ Algérie-Maroc | Blog on Algerian-Moroccan relations. ✪ Un propagandiste intéressé du régime tunisien - Les blogs du Diplo | Alain Gresh takes down Antoine Sfeir over his apologia for the Ben Ali regime in Tunisia. ✪ “The State is an ostrich”: Algerian riots in the shadow of Power « The Moor Next Door | On the recent turmoil, and more generally the absence of a well-managed state in Algeria. ✪ Arms Smugglers Into Gaza Face a New Foe: Egypt – Forward.com | To Egypt's eternal shame! ✪ «الإخوان المسلمون» ينتصبون ضدّ بيونسي | جريدة الأخبار | The Muslim Brothers take on Beyoncé. ✪ Daily News Egypt -No Egyptian Films At The Cairo International Film Festival, Says Ciff President | er.... what? ✪ Reporters Sans Frontières | Tunisia: Election campaign impossible for opposition media ✪ Daily News Egypt - ‘Spinsters’ By Choice: Egypt’s Single Ladies Speak Out | About the Facebook group "Spinsters for Change". ✪ Michael Gerson - Michael Gerson on Egypt's Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa - washingtonpost.com | Rather lame column about the Mufti of Egypt makes no mention of his civil servant status. ✪ The Empire Lovers Strike Back « P U L S E | Fantastic text by Gore Vidal from the 1980s, about the Podhoretzes and the Israel lobby in the US. ✪ Israeli Exceptionalism: The Destabilizing Logic of Zionism « P U L S E | Excerpt from new book by M. Shahuid Alam.
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Bikya Masr: Ayman Nour attacked in Hurghada

Follow Bikya Masr (BikyaMasr) on Twitter for reports on an attack on Ayman Nour and his supporters by a dozen security and NDP thugs.

As of 23:10:



  1. Nour has told us that he feels "endangered."
  2. Nour has stated he will remain inside until there is a response from the Hurghada General Prosecutor's office.
  3. At this time, Nour and his party remain trapped in the restaurant.
  4. Nour: ""this sinful coalition between sec. forces and NDP is the worst form of terrorism. They are punishing us for our tour in Luxor.”
  5. Statement from Nour: "The situation is really dangerous. This is a severe attack and an unforgivable escalation.”
  6. They said that they are “security forces aided by some members of the ruling National Democratic Party Council in Hurghada!”
  7. Some members of El-Ghad Party Committee in Hurghada recognized the attackers.
  8. Only a small truck of Tourism Police came to the location of the incident and left after few minutes without taking any action
  9. They tried to call the police and security forces to help them, but they never showed up
  10. Nour and colleagues were having dinner with members of Elghad Committee in Hurghada before they were to go to the airport for cairo
  11. attackers tried to steal Gawad’s camera and papers but the owner of the restaurant saved him and pulled him inside again to protect him.
  12. Nour and his assistants are still stuck inside the restaurant which is surrounded by the thugs who are shouting: Viva Mubarak, Viva Egypt!
  13. Ahmed Abdul Gawad, Nour’s media assistant was severely beaten and wounded.
  14. While leaving Star Fish restaurant in Sheraton St., in Hurghada, Ayman Nour and his assistants were violently attacked by a dozen of thugs

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Links for 10.22.09

Corruption au Maghreb: Mode d’emploi | On corruption in the Maghreb, especially Algeria. ✪ Algeria-Watch: Diar Echems ne décolère pas | If you're interested in following the recent social unrest in Algiers, Algeria-Watch is the place to do it. ✪ Tunisie: une journaliste du "Monde" refoulée à l'aéroport de Tunis | Le Monde's Florence Beaugé barred from entering Tunisia after critical reporting and ahead of presidential elections on Oct. 25. ✪ Abu Khaldoun | New blog on things Middle Eastern. ✪ Le Figaro: Alger sur une poudrière | Riots in poor area of Algiers highlight undertow of social tensions. ✪ EgyptAir guards thwart attempted hijacking of flight from Istanbul to Cairo; suspect arrested - WGN |
A Sudanese man used a plastic knife from the in-flight meal to threaten flight attendants after the plane left Turkish airspace and demanded that the flight be diverted to Jerusalem, the official said. Guards on the flight were able to detain the man and no one was hurt, he said. The flight landed safely at Cairo airport. The man was arrested and was being questioned by state security, the official said. The Boeing aircraft was carrying 87 passengers, a Cairo police official said. He identified the suspect as Mohammed Hamad Nourain, 26, and said he used a passport with a phony name to board the flight. The man told flight attendants he wanted to "liberate Jerusalem," the police official said.
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E-Agrium and environmental-social protest in Egypt

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It's great to see that someone has written an analysis piece about the protests against the E-Agrium plant in Damietta, and put it in the context of Egypt's diffused wave of social protest. Where else but MERIP:

The Damietta protests may well mark a watershed for environmental mobilization in Egypt. The coalition that emerged to oppose the EAgrium plant crossed class and occupational lines, and included representatives of voluntary associations, members of Parliament, businessmen, university professors, landowners, and members of unions and professional syndicates. These groups employed a diverse repertoire of protest tactics and mobilizing strategies, including coordinated statements, petitions, marches, vigils, litigation and strikes. The coalition also framed its concerns in ways that resonated with the vast majority of Egyptians struggling to cope with the rapidly deteriorating conditions in the Delta. Mobilization against the factory emphasized the health threats posed by polluting industries, the subsidy of foreign investors, pervasive government corruption and the lack of environmental enforcement. These concerns were diffused through Egypt’s increasingly lively public and media sphere, including new independent newspapers, private TV stations and well-known regional satellite channels such as al-Jazeera.

The diverse protest tactics employed in Damietta are part of a larger wave of social protest that has washed over Egypt in recent years. Strikes, sit-ins, petitions, road closures and demonstrations of all kinds are increasingly employed by a dizzying array of actors, including textile workers, ambulance drivers, public sector employees, syndicate members, farmers and others. Egypt’s authoritarian regime has responded with a mixture of repression and accommodation. While the regime has ringed striking workers with security personnel, often leading to arrests and skirmishes, it has also sought to placate them with wage increases, bonuses and other economic benefits. In stark contrast, protesters making political demands have invariably been met with force.

The Damietta protests proved effective in part because they did not simply pit civil society against the state. Local economic elites and politicians played key roles in articulating a different developmental vision for the city and its environs than that promoted by the central government. To wit, they argued that the area’s economic development should rest on its natural advantages of sun and surf, capitalizing on the traditional status of Damietta and Ra’s al-Barr as premier summer resorts for Egyptians. This case was bolstered by the input of respected environmental scientists, whose opinion was solicited as part of a broader government commission of inquiry. And the movement was not merely local. When the idea of relocating the plant to Suez or Port Said surfaced in the press, protests erupted in these cities as well.

For reporting on the E-Agrium, see this BT piece.

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Security raids Ayman Nour offices during "Egyptians Against Succession" meeting

From Mohammad Maree:
واستولت بلطجية امن الدولة على جهاز لابتوب خاص بالدكتور ايمن وجهاز عرض كما قامت بتحطيم السماعات الموجودة بالمقر State Security Forces about 50-60 pigs stormed into a seminar at Ayman Nour Culture Center in Bab Al-Sha’riya, Cairo. The seminar was to discuss succession, the security thugs confiscated the all devices in the center especially the laptop of Dr ayman nour in addition to destroying the all things in the place they arrested some of El-Ghad party activists as the journalist ahmed abd-elgawad who was taken to the police station then released update:- Ayman Nour went to Bab Al-Sha’riya police station to file aclaim about the incident
Someone else emailed:
Reports are beginning to flow in, including directly from former Egyptian presidential candidate Ayman Nour, regarding an assault which occurred this evening in Cairo on one of Nour's offices in the Bab El Shairiya neighborhood by state security forces. Reportedly, 40-50 state security "thugs" stormed the office this evening (Cairo time), assaulted Al Ghad members within, and confiscated equipment, including Dr. Nour's personal computer. They reportedly arrested Nour's press secretary, Ahmed Abdel Gawad, among others. This incident took place immediately before a conference entitled "Poets Against Succession," a subgroup of the "Egyptians Against Succession (Mayohkomsh)" movement, was to take place.
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Links for 10.21.09

'Just World News' with Helena Cobban: Nozette: Pollard, 2.0? | On the latest Israeli spy scandal in the US. ✪ "friday-lunch-club": Netanyahu refuses Kouchner's request to see Gaza's destruction ... | Gaza? What Gaza? ✪ To Earn HIs Nobel Prize, Obama Will Need a "Plan B" | Stephen M. Walt | "If I were President Obama (now there's a scary thought!), I'd ask some smart people on my foreign policy team to start thinking hard about "Plan B." What's Plan B? It's the strategy that he's going to need when it becomes clear that his initial foreign policy initiatives didn't work." ✪ ذاكرة مصر المعاصرة - الصحافة | Alexandria Library's online collection of historical Egyptian newspapers, including the first issue of al-Ahram (which was founded, it must be reluctantly noted, by Lebanese.) ✪ News Analysis - Painful Mideast Truth - Force Trumps Diplomacy - NYTimes.com | Painful Media Truth: For NYT, bias always trumps journalism. Look at the language used in this piece: Palestinian violence is "very bloody" and Israel carries out "military action." Israel's plans to attack Iran are considered as legitimate. And there is a mixing of terrorism and the attacks on Israel's "legitimacy" -- i.e. the legitimacy of its landgrabs, occupations and militarism. Pure hasbara. ✪ Israel, US start major joint air defence drill - Yahoo! News |
The exercise will test the Arrow (Hetz) system, the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defence), the ship-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defence System, as well as Patriot and Hawk anti-aircraft systems, media said. It will simulate the firing of long-range missiles from Israel's foes Iran, Syria and Lebanon, and towards the end it will include a "live" missile interception, reports said.
Matthew Yglesias » Bernstein on Human Rights Watch | A good retort to the latest silly attack on HRW (by one of its former chairman) "or having the temerity to hold Israel to the same standards of international humanitarian law to which it holds every other country." But this just points to the problem of bias in the higher echelons of HRW - among former and current staffers. ✪ Almasry Alyoum | No Fly Zone | Nice story looking at the recent airport detentions of various kinds of activists. ✪ Almasry Alyoum | Pope Shenouda: "I Support Gamal Mubarak" | What a nasty little man, and what disservice he does to his flock. I hope Copts flee the Orthodox Church en masse over this. ✪ Arab states consider joint counter-terror police unit | "Arabpol." Oh Lord Have Mercy. ✪ Egyptcarpoolers | A carpooling connecting website for Cairo. ✪ Saddam Interview | Transcripts of interviews with Saddam Hussein during his captivity in 2004.
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