Category Archives:
Middle East

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

Philip Weiss on
AHD7B9240

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.

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.

Diaspora Jews are not in ‘exile,’ they are at home

Allan C. Brownfeld on
Netanyahu in Paris

In the wake of the terrorist attack in Paris, which included an assault on a kosher grocery store, Israeli leaders have called on Jews to leave France because Israel is their true home. This, of course, is what Zionism believes, that Israel is the “homeland” of all Jews. But, it is an ideological construct which has no relationship to reality. Israel should be content to be the “homeland” of its own citizens, Jewish, Christian and Muslim, and Diaspora Jews should stay in their countries and help build them.

Palestine, an Islamic issue?

Ahmed Moor on
Palestinian supporters of Hamas and Islamic Jihad movements stand under the Palestinian flag in a November 2007 protest in Gaza city. (Photo: Abid Katib/Getty Images)

Ahmed Moor writes the idea that Palestine is a Muslim issue is one that a lot of people believe in even though Palestinian society is not Muslim and Palestinian history never developed solely within an Islamic context. So who are the people who seek to offer it as a credible structural description? And why is the Palestine-is-a-Muslim-problem line so destructive?

French terror attacks contribute to Israeli’s isolation

Philip Weiss on
David Ward

Many Israel supporters say that the French attacks show Jewish insecurity in Europe. The flip side of this argument is that the attacks demonstrate that Israeli discrimination is an anachronism in today’s world, and this widespread understanding is turning the country into a pariah.

Why Charlie Hebdo offends me

Hicham Tiflati on
Newspaper headlines following the Charlie Hebdo attack.

Hicham Tiflati writes about why Charlie Hebdo, and the resulting political fallout from the tragic attack on its office, offends him.

Why do Muslims object to depictions of their prophet?

Philip Weiss on
Bill Neely on NBC News, not showing Charlie Hebdo cover

Media have tended to portray Muslim objections to the depiction of the prophet Muhammad as backward and unevolved. It would be better if the media sought to explain how Muslims feel about the matter.