Links for November 17th

Links from my account for November 17th:

Read More

Links November 14th to November 16th

Links from my account for November 14th through November 16th:

Read More

Iraq documentary focused on female soldiers

I should have posted this on Veteran's Day, this past week. It's a review I recently wrote of a documentary about US service women in Iraq. The special team was called "Team Lioness" (they don't seem to have had any inkling of the implications of "lioness" in Arabic) and used to interact with Iraqi civilians in situations in which women were needed. It's a pretty good film, and one more reminder of how much Iraq (remember Iraq? Now that the election is over..) has cost. Although I think we need to always remember that it's cost Iraqis way more than it's cost our country.
Read More

Let them grope cake

Mama Suzanne says this harassment stuff is all made up:
CAIRO (AFP) – Egyptian first lady Suzanne Mubarak has played down allegations of rampant sexual harassment in her country, accusing the media, and implicitly Islamist militants, of exaggerating the reports. "Egyptian men always respect Egyptian women," the pro-government Al-Ahram newspaper on Friday quoted the wife of President Hosni Mubarak as saying in remarks aired on Thursday by Al-Arabiya television. The Egyptian Centre for Women's Rights (ECWR) released a survey earlier this year showing that 83 percent of Egyptian women and 98 percent of foreign women in Egypt are sexually harassed. "This gives the impression that the streets in Egypt are not safe. That is not true... The media have exaggerated," Mubarak said. "Maybe one, two or even 10 incidents occurred. Egypt is home to 80 million people. We can't talk of a phenomenon. Maybe a few scatterbrained youths are behind this crime. "And maybe some people wanted to make it seem as though the streets of Egypt are not safe so girls and women stay at home. This could be their agenda," she said in a reference to Islamist militants.
Of course, in her own experience, when she goes out on the street in her motorcode surrounded by bodyguards and soldiers, no one EVER gropes her. So it must apply to all other women in Egypt.
Read More

Links for November 14th

Links from my account for November 14th:

Read More

Sinai's bedouins have had enough

Since the 2004 attack on the Taba Hilton and the subsequent massive round-up of Sinai bedouins by Egypt's security apparatus, the situation of Sinai's bedouin population has gone from bad to worse. Already a marginalized group that has been even more left by the wayside by the government than Nile Valley Egyptians, Sinai bedouins have had to endure humiliating police abuse, detention without trial, and countless other abuses. Living in a poor area of the country under direct military rule, seeing the development of luxury resorts like Sharm al-Sheikh without reaping much of the profits they generate, some have even turned to remember the days of Israeli occupation of Sinai as a golden age. What worse indictment of the Mubarak era, for a president whose great claim is that he was the man who recovered Sinai, that a year or so ago young bedouins staged a symbolic march to the Israeli border? Now, as Egypt collaborates with Israel and the US to close down the smuggling tunnels to Gaza (one of the main sources of income in Eastern Sinai), they turn against the state. The signs have been coming for a while: is any of this a surprise? Also see: Three Bedouins Killed In Police Clashes Armed Clashes Between Security And Tarabeen Tribe In Sinai Detain 25 Officers And Soldiers For Hours For background and root causes see the International Crisis Group report Egypt's Sinai Question.
Read More

Links November 12th to November 13th

Links from my account for November 12th through November 13th:

Read More

Flickr needs to get its #$% together

If you haven't noticed yet, Hossam over at Arabawy has been having a lot of trouble with his Flickr account lately. For several years now, Hossam has been using his Flickr account (and introducing other Egyptian photojournalists to the service) to spread the use of photography for political advocacy, a strategy he passionately believes in and that has been an underpinning of his media-heavy blogging (which is costing us a bundle in hosting fees!) I think Hossam's style of blogging (whether or not you agree with his radical politics) is extremely innovative and a great example of how "Web 2.0" services ike Flickr or Twitter can be put to a use their founders never even imagined. It's therefore really sad that Flickr fails to see the point he has been trying to make in posting pictures by photographer friends who have given him permission to use their pics on his Flickr account. Flickr says that the account should only have his own pics. That's silly: he may not be using Flickr only to showcase his own stuff, as most Flickr users do, but as a tool to collect information (in the form of pictures) about certain events and causes. As long as he has permission to use that information (and he does), Flickr should not be reducing the usefulness of a service he paid for. For me, the troubling thing here is not just that Flickr has taken some questionable decisions, such as marking pro-Palestinian and pro-separatist Irish murals as "unsafe" (and therefore only viewable with a login) with no reason whatsoever. It's not just that Flickr seems to have arbitrarily selected Hossam's account, where he openly acknowledges and credits photos that are not his, when its millions of users could simply take credit themselves for other people's pictures and get away with it. Its great crime, unpardonable for a US company, is that it has shown very poor customer service in this case. If a customer wants to host his and others' pics - basically wants to have a group account - why shouldn't he? And if that's not possible under Flickr's account rules, then the rules are silly and should be changed, because the customer should always be king.
Read More

Links November 11th to November 12th

Links from my account for November 11th through November 12th:

Read More

Obama and the peace process

Beyond whether who he will appoint to handle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, President Obama has to choose what kind of approach he will pursue. Two Arab diplomats (a Palestinian and an Egyptian) who are peace process veterans wrote this powerful op-ed advocating a hands-on approach that shuns the "capacity-building" gradualist approach and recommends going against the Washington received wisdom (received from Zionist think tanks, that is) that there isn't much to be done:

"Experienced" advisers will point out that the issues are complex, the leaders are weak and divided, and the costs of failure are formidable. They will urge you to take small steps and let the parties lead. The United States, they will argue, should support bilateral talks from the sidelines, but cannot want peace more than the parties themselves.
As former advisers to two of the governments in the region, and having participated in developing the Road Map peace plan, we assure you that is exactly the wrong approach. It is because the parties are weak that American leadership is indispensable. It is because bilateral negotiations yield only hollow communiqués that you should use your political capital to forge consensus on substance. And it is because the issues are complex that small achievements — fleeting cease-fires, relocated checkpoints — are as politically costly as big ones. The Bush administration wasted six years before learning these lessons. You need not repeat its mistakes.
Aim high. The region will not hesitate to supply your administration with a series of crises that demand urgent attention — breakdowns in talks, escalations in violence, right-wing electoral triumphs, settlement expansion and the like. These crises cannot be ignored. But you must not allow managing the conflict to distract you from the crucial task of resolving it. Each passing day, Israel's occupation produces despair and facts on the ground that make the conflict ever more difficult to solve.
What is needed is a substantive framework for comprehensive peace, endowed with international support and ready for the parties' acceptance. Like the Road Map, you should develop this framework in consultation with the parties and international partners. But unlike the Road Map, it should specify a destination, defining the central terms of a settlement with sufficient precision to prevent interminable haggling over interpretation and sufficient formality to make rejection too politically costly for any serious party to contemplate.
Build commitment, then capacity. Among the foundations of President Bush's failed Arab-Israeli policy was the notion that capacity must precede commitment, that Palestine become Switzerland before peace negotiations commence. You have pointed out the folly of such thinking in Iraq, arguing that an American commitment to early withdrawal would give Iraqis an incentive to put their house in order.
That is no less true for the Mideast peace process. Some portray the rejectionism of Hamas and Israel's right wing as an insurmountable obstacle to peace. It isn't. There is no peace for them to reject. However, a U.S.-backed framework for peace would oblige all parties to face the moment of truth in a way that a commitment to continue negotiations simply cannot. It would also do more to advance Palestinian governance and security reform than another decade of technical assistance.

[From U.S. should take lead in Middle East peace process | Viewpoints, Outlook | - Houston Chronicle]
Read More

Links November 8th to November 9th

Links from my account for November 8th through November 9th:

Read More

Guilt by association

"The Review" Editor Jonathan Shainin has an excellent editorial parsing the last-minute attacks of the McCain campaign on Obama for his "troubling" association with Columbia Professor Rashid Khalidi. Shainin does a good job of calling out Obama for his equivocal stance in the face of these racist attacks: the way he deplored the attacks but didn't do enough to challenge their underlying logic (practically any Arab = radical = terrorist).
Read More

Links November 4th to November 6th

Links from my account for November 4th through November 6th:

Read More

Links November 2nd to November 3rd

Links from my account for November 2nd through November 3rd:

Read More

Chronicles of a Refugee

n37427001486_2990.jpg Chronicles of a Refugee is a 6-part documentary film series looking at the global Palestinian refugee experience over the last 60 years. Through the voices of Palestinian refugees, the first three episodes recount the experiences of Palestinian refugees since 1947. They are more historical and informative, presenting an almost comprehensive review of 60 years of dispossession.Starting with 'al-Nakba' (catastrophe) in 1948 (part I) and continuing through repeated community and individual expulsions (part II) and enduring discrimination by virtue of being Palestinian (part III). The last three parts tackle three issues facing Palestinian refugees, and are meant to open up debate on contentious issues. Part IV deals with identity formation and the impact of being in diaspora. Part V looks at strategies for the Right of Return and who is doing what to achieve realization of this right. Part VI focuses on issues of leadership and representation, from the perspective of what kind of representation have Palestinians had over time and what do they want now. Filmed in over 17 countries, 18 refugee camps, 36 cities, with more than 300 interviews of Palestinian refugees who have lived in over 25 countries, this is the first documentary film to look at the global Palestinian refugee experience over the last 60 years. Chronicles of a Refugee gives voice to Palestinian refugees displaced in 1948, as well as to their descendants, and includes a wide range of age, socio-economic status, education level. Films are in Arabic (available with English subtitles) Part I: "The Nakba Dailies" Part II: "The Daily Nakbas" Part III: "Homeland Without ID (papers)" Part IV: "Identity Without a Homeland" Part V: "Talk About Return" Part VI: "The Return of Talk" "Chronicles of a Refugee" is an independently produced film made by Perla Issa, Aseel Mansour and Adam Shapiro, with a musical score by Tarik "Excentrik" Kazaleh and Ramallah Underground. Funding for the project was made possible through individual donations and the film is in no way associated with any organization, political party, faction or otherwise. Date: Monday, November 24, 2008 Time: 7:00pm - 10:00pm Location: Jameel Center Auditorium, Greek Campus, the American University in Cairo, Tahrir Campus Street: Mohamed Mahmoud Street Cairo, Egypt
Read More

L'Affaire Rosen

Friend of the blog Nir Rosen, who wrote a recent article about the Taliban for Rolling Stone (for which he embedded himself with the a Taliban platoon), is under attack for lack of patriotism. Rosen has been under attack before, since he views the recent US wars as imperialist (that's what he told Joe Biden) and has a bizarre enthusiasm for dangerous people and places. Nonetheless, he's produced some of the most original reporting that's out there. The criticism against him reached rather exaggerated levels at the generally respectable war nerd blog Small Wars Journal, where commentator Bing West, after making a series of reduction ad hitlerum remarks about journalists being unpatriotic, asserts that "It is morally wrong for an American citizen to deceive friendly troops in order to sneak into enemy territory in the company of enemy soldiers." West longs for the days of moral clarity when people like Rosen, caught behind enemy lines, who simply be shot:
Rosen described how he and two Taliban fighters deceived the guards at a government checkpoint. Suppose during World War II an American reporter had sneaked through the lines with two German officers wearing civilian clothes. “When we caught enemy combatants out of uniform in the 1940s,” a veteran wrote in The American Heritage, “we sometimes simply executed them.” The Greatest Generation had a direct way of dealing with moral ambiguity.
An argument for the summary execution of journalists who take a look across enemy lines?
Read More

At the Townhouse Gallery

LAPDOGS OF THE BOURGEOISIE Featuring the artists Annika Eriksson Chris Evans Dirk Fleischmann / Michele di Menna San Keller Hassan Khan Natascha Sadr Haghighian Marion von Osten. Curated by Nav Haq and Tirdad Zolghadr To what extent does class play a role in the production and dissemination of contemporary art? Lapdogs of the Bourgeoisie is a project touring internationally from 2006 to 2009, investigating how and whether the ideology of socioeconomic background still defines your artworld career, and to which point such a career might consolidate the ideologies in question. In short, the notion of class is the thematic touchstone of the project, and yet the idea is not to use contemporary art to explore class structures in society at large. Rather, the project hopes to develop a sense of art world reflexivity, tracing hegemonic patterns within the field itself.
I thought this was funny. I hope it was intended that way. More details here.
Read More

Links October 31st to November 1st

Links from my account for October 31st through November 1st:

Read More