Category Archives:
Middle East

Why Iran is not and has never been Israel’s #1 enemy

Anne-Marie Codur on
Netanyahu with prop at UN GA, 2012, Mario Tama, Getty Images

Mr. Netanyahu’s speech on March 3, 2015 will be marked as the day when an Israeli Prime Minister has pushed the chutzpah so far as to embarrass the President of the United States in front of the whole world. But why is he so adamant that Iran is “the” absolute existential threat to the Jewish people in the first place? Anne-Marie Codur says all the laws of geopolitics and all the facts indicate that Netanyahu is simply lying.

What we talk about when we talk about ISIS

Eamon Murphy on
The Atlantic magazine cover

As the U.S. prepares to re-engage more deeply in the Iraq War, including the likely deployment of ground troops to help retake Mosul from Islamic State, there has been a push from mainstream commentators to recommit to an ideological view of our military campaigns in the Muslim world. A splashy cover story in The Atlantic, “What ISIS Really Wants”, offers an intellectual foundation for the reenergized War on Terror, presenting full recognition of ISIS’s “very Islamic” nature as a matter of urgent strategic significance. Eamon Murphy writes the obsession with naming Islam as the enemy of the West is in fact a defense of our own side’s troubled ideology. He says the guiding principle of post-World War II foreign policy — that the course of world events should be influenced, wherever possible, by force — is imperiled by the spectacular failure of the War on Terror, which actually succeeded in creating a transnational army of Islamic terrorists. That Islamic State rose in Iraq, then spread to Syria and Libya, threatens to give war a very bad name.

The 15 billion dollar deal that will make or break Israel’s regional hegemony

Juman Asmail on
Activists outside the Jordanian Embassy in London protest the Israel-Jordan gas deal.

The past week has seen international efforts to prevent an Israeli-Jordanian gas deal grow. Jordan BDS has called upon the international boycott movement to stand against the deal, and on Friday, February 20th activists in Denver, London and South Africa took to the streets to join the call to action. If the gas deal goes through it will increase Israeli dominance in the region by controlling the energy supply to bordering countries, and undermine the growing BDS movement.

In Their Own Words: Four residents of Yarmouk speak

Talal Alyan on
Palestinian residents of the besieged Yarmouk refugee camp line up to receive food supplies, March, 2014. (Photo: AP)

Four Palestinian residents of the Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria reflect on the state of the camp, what Palestine means to them now after what they have experienced and what they would want to say to Palestinians outside of Syria.

My invitation to speak at Hebrew Union College

Bruce Shipman on
Joshua Heschel, left, and Martin Luther King Jr.

“Conscience and responsibility” was theme of discussion at Hebrew Union College to which Rev. Bruce Shipman was invited, but the source of his notoriety, his assertion that Israel’s actions help foster anti-Semitism in Europe, was not addressed

A cosmopolitan’s regrets: Roger Cohen on the Jewish condition

Philip Weiss on

In his new book, Roger Cohen’s description of his late mother’s mental illness and the way it traumatized him as a boy is spiritually scouring. His belief that Israel is necessary because Jews feel displaced is not as compelling.

I misremember Iraq

Scott Long on
Brian Williams

Scott Long comments on the Brian Williams scandal that he lied about his experience in Iraq, but he doesn’t understand why this is an issue. Williams made up a story, but he was in the middle of the most fantastic made-up story in American history. The Iraq war was a gigantic fiction: the reasons were fake, the goals were fake, the triumph was fake. Rather than Williams’ tall tales, the real scandal is journalism’s complete submission, as the “war on terror” raged, to the fantasies of patriotic allegiance.

Drones over Auschwitz and Gaza

Marc H. Ellis on
Spielberg at Auschwitz on January 27, photo by Alik Keplicz, AP

The 70th anniversary of liberation of Auschwitz and investigation of Israel at the Hague are signs that the Holocaust-Israel axis, so central to Jewish identity over the last decades, is on oxygen support.

Auschwitz revisited

Robert Cohen on
Survivors at Buchenwald. Elie Wiesel is 2nd bunk up, 7th face from the left, beside post

Robert Cohen shares a moving personal post on why he has become weary and wary of trying to take meaning or lessons from the Holocaust: “When it comes to the Palestinian people, the Holocaust has hardened our hearts and closed our minds. The scale of our own suffering has made us blind to their suffering – which we see as all of their own making. Perhaps this was inevitable. Why should a people abused and broken become saints? The opposite result is more often the outcome. I am asking for too much. Expecting something that no group is capable of.”

Charlie Hebdo: The sacred of the ‘wretched of the Earth’ and its desecration

Houria Bouteldja on
Houria Bouteldja

Houria Bouteldja, founder and spokesperson of the Party of the Indigenous of the Republic in France, writes a searing essay on the Charlie Hebdo attack and Islamophobia in French society: It did not take a genius to guess that this system produces time bombs—and our friends knew it—but it had to be us to understand the gaping wound of our violated dignity. We know that we are nothing. People keep telling us. Our humanity is trampled; on it, everyone wipes his or her feet. Thus, the “jihadists” responded: “our lives are worth nothing but now yours are worth nothing as well. You eradicate us, we eradicate you.” This is the curse of the “scum.” Let’s move on.

Video: Racist Israel supporter films himself attacking Toronto students, urinating on BDS poster

Annie Robbins on
Screen Shot: Ranting deranged man pisses on  Israel BDS divestment poster from University of Toronto Divest – Scarborough

A video shows an unnamed man barging into the Campus Students’ Union office at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus (UTSC) and demanding that a poster calling for divestment from the Israeli occupation be removed from a window. The man was recording the incident on his cell phone as he threatened students and claimed the poster constituted a “hate crime.” He rips the poster from the window while ranting about valuing “Canadian lives,” Israel and seemingly justifying his anger by stating “I’m a fuckin’ Jew.” Later, he recorded himself urinating on the poster while making racist threats directed at Arabs and Muslims and/or: “Anybody who has a problem with Israel you have something in common – I’m the devil baby I don’t think you want to play games with me.”

End the silence — Support Palestinian refugees in Yarmouk

Mariam Barghouti on
Yarmouk refugee camp. (Photo: Rami Al-Sayyed/UNRWA Archives)

The case of Palestinian refugees is a prevailing topic when discussing Palestine and liberation, but when Palestinian refugees are being besieged and slaughtered in Syria there is a piercing silence towards them. Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus has been under siege for nearly 550 days and counting. Over 1,020 Palestinians have died in the camp by torture in regime jails, execution, and bombing.

When discussing Islam, which Islam and whose rationality? 

Sabith Khan on
A Muslim girl registering her protest against the anti-Islam film at the 27th United American Muslim Day Parade on September 23, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Mohsin Zaheer)

In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo killings there has been an effort to reify Islam and put a fixed meaning to this way of life/ civilization. Sabith Khan suggests we look at Islam contextually by placing our understanding of it in the milieu in which we find it instead of looking for an “essential spirit” of the religion: “American Islam is different from French Islam, which is different from that in Saudi Arabia. Speaking of ‘Islam’ as an all-consuming category, that subsumes all geographies, history and culture is not only naïve, but also dangerous.”

‘No to martyrdom by hunger in Yarmouk camp': Palestinian refugees protest Assad’s siege

Ben Norton on
(Photo: Yarmouk News agency)

Palestinian refugees in the Yarmouk neighborhood of Damascus took to the streets on January 18th to protest the siege imposed by the Assad government. Since December 2012, civilians in Yarmouk, the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Syria—what some refer to as the “capital of the Palestinian diaspora”—have been under siege and constant attack by the Syrian regime.