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Ed Webb

Qatar's Soccer Stars Are Guinea Pigs in an Experiment to Erode Citizenship Rights - 0 views

  • Qatar has not simply spent money to import and train a soccer team: It has also redefined the very idea of citizenship. Like most states in the Persian Gulf, Qatar is a majority-foreigner country. There are only about 300,000 actual Qatari passport holders out of a population of nearly 3 million. Pathways to citizenship are notoriously exclusive, and only 50 new citizenships can be granted per year to those personally approved by the emir of Qatar himself. Yet 10 of the 26 players on Qatar’s national soccer team are naturalized citizens. To comply with FIFA regulations, the entire team consists of Qatari citizens. But these naturalized soccer players are not quite immigrant-origin  national heroes, in the vein of Zinedine Zidane or Zlatan Ibrahimovic. These immigrant players all carry “mission passports”—documents that confer citizenship for the purposes of sports competition
  • Tibetans in exile have been granted pseudo-passports—but not citizenship—by India. Residents of American Samoa are “U.S. nationals” not possessing the full rights of citizenship. The disintegration of Yugoslavia left thousands of Roma people stateless. Issues of statelessness and ambiguous citizenship are universal in any part of the world which experiences crisis and conflict.
  • that Qatar has redefined the very nature of citizenship—without fanfare, controversy, and with the sole goal of appeasing FIFA nationality regulations—takes this story of temporary citizen soccer players beyond the realm of Gulf labor exploitation
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  • The Middle East and North Africa are becoming a kind of citizenship frontier: a region where certainty, permanence, and protection of citizenship is being uniquely and dangerously corroded. And Western countries are enabling this dynamic.
  • The creation of a new, opaquely defined but unambiguously lesser form of citizenship is not a symptom of exploitative labor conditions. It’s a symptom of a regional erosion of citizenship.
  • Kuwait, Qatar, and Bahrain all emerged as states containing substantial populations of bedoon—stateless residents who were not recognized as citizens and were, in some cases, denied even birth certificates.
  • Most significant of all are the post-1948 populations of Palestinians in Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, millions of people who were eventually issued identity documents by several governments, such as subvariants of Syrian passports (Syrian travel documents for Palestinian refugees), which looked like and served as passports but faced adamant political insistence from all sides—save Jordan, which eventually largely naturalized Palestinians—that this documentation was not, in fact, citizenship.
  • this type of citizenship comes with a built-in expiration date, making these immigrant players’ citizenships temporary as well as second class.
  • Since the 2010s, the Middle East is emerging as a kind of experimental zone where the erosion of citizenship rights can be trialed. While Qatari soccer players are temporary citizens naturalized with an expiration date—even if the details of when their passports expire is not public—Western countries are increasingly comfortable denaturalizing and revoking the citizenship of their own immigrant citizens of Middle Eastern origin when those citizens are accused of terrorist activity in the region.
  • some right-populist movements are claiming that Middle Eastern and North African immigrants are somehow not really American, Dutch, or British
  • The West looks the other way as Gulf states chip away at citizenship norms for expediency, and local governments don’t protest too much when Western governments strand their denaturalized ex-citizens in the region. Especially after the emergence of the Islamic State, with its large contingent of Western, immigrant-origin fighters, the revocation of citizenship became an appealing alternative to long and complicated criminal prosecutions.
  • Western institutions in the Middle East have led the way in demonstrating that the definition of citizenship can be changed to solve an embarrassing problem, be that one of your citizens swearing allegiance to the Islamic State or the fact that half your national soccer team is foreign
  • The erasure of citizenship rights in these cases can be tolerated by international legal regimes because they are considered exceptional. It’s just for some athletes. It’s just for terrorists. But it doesn’t stay that way: The model, once implemented, is attractive for other uses.
  • conditional citizenship, a term coined by the American author Laila Lalami to describe people who, through a web of big and small prejudices and bureaucratic procedures, have “rights the state finds expendable.”
Ed Webb

Turkey to send back Islamic State prisoners even if citizenships revoked | Middle East Eye - 0 views

  • Turkey has said it will send Islamic State group (IS) prisoners back to their countries of origin, regardless of whether they have been stripped of citizenship. 
  • Turkey had nearly 1,200 foreign members of IS in custody, and had captured 287 during its recent operation in northern Syria
  • It remains unclear whether Turkey will be able to do so in practice. Western countries have often refused to accept the repatriation of citizens who left to join IS in Syria, and have stripped many of their citizenship. Britain has removed citizenship from more than 100 people for allegedly joining armed groups abroad. 
Ed Webb

Asma al-Assad risks loss of British citizenship as she faces possible terror charges | ... - 0 views

  • The British wife of Syria’s ruler, Bashar al-Assad, is facing possible terrorism charges and the loss of her British citizenship after the Metropolitan police opened a preliminary investigation into claims she has incited, aided and encouraged war crimes by Syrian government forces.
  • investigated in response to legal complaints alleging her speeches and public appearances in support of the Syrian army implicate her in its crimes, including the use of chemical weapons
  • the country’s military has been accused of deliberately attacking civilians, using starvation as a weapon of war and subjecting populations to rape and sexual violence, among other breaches of international humanitarian law.
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  • the Met’s war crimes unit began its inquiries into Asma al-Assad earlier this year and is determining if there is enough evidence to launch a full investigation
  • Already targeted by UK, US and EU financial sanctions, the former New York investment banker and daughter of a Harley Street cardiologist could be stripped of her British citizenship and subjected to an international arrest warrant if the investigation proceeds
Ed Webb

American citizens are detained in Hebron for wearing hijab on a 'Jewish street' - 1 views

  •  
    A description of what borders, identities, citizenships etc can look and feel like at the micro-level in the Israel-Palestine context.
Ed Webb

"In Assad's Syria, There Is No Imagination" | Syria Undercover | FRONTLINE | PBS - 1 views

  • In their ambition at least, the Arab revolts and revolutions were about a positive sort of legitimacy: democracy, freedom, social justice and individual rights. They remain an unfulfilled promise, but no one in Egypt, Tunisia or Libya is really afraid to speak anymore. The cacophony that has ensued is the most liberating feature of rejuvenated societies. It already echoes in parts of Syria. When I was in Hama this summer, a city still scarred by memory and for a brief moment freed from security forces, youths embraced their new space by protesting every couple of hours in streets made kinetic by the allure of self-determination. They demonstrated simply because they could. In Homs, a city whose uprising could prove Syria’s demise or salvation, youths drawn from an eclectic array of leftists, liberals, nationalists, Islamists and the simply pissed-off articulated the essence of courage: They had come too far to go back.
  • I’m a person now
  • “We’re not waiting to live our lives until after the fall of the regime,” he went on. “We started living them the first day of the protests.”
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  • A Tunisian Islamist named Said Ferjani told me a few weeks ago that such safeguards and guarantees would require what he called “a charismatic state.” It was the antithesis of all those sempiternal leaders, presiding over imperiums with hollow slogans and manipulating society’s components with cynicism portrayed as principle. A charismatic state could mend itself, reform, adapt and heal when it failed in its fundamental task, delivering the rights and duties of citizenship. And only in citizenship, he told me, could diversity be preserved and protected. Citizenship, he seemed to suggest, would permit us to become greater than our parts. It would allow us to imagine.
  • There may someday be a vision for Syria and the Middle East that draws on their past, where ancient trajectories of the Ottoman Empire stitched together a landscape that often embraced its many identities. There is probably a future in which loyalties are less to the state and more to those antique metropoles like Aleppo, Tripoli, Mosul or Beirut, which often answered questions of community better than the contrived countries that absorbed them. The term might be post-Ottoman, where borders that never made all that much sense are encompassed by connections from Cairo to Istanbul, Maydan to Basra, and Marjayoun to Arish, in which people can imagine themselves as Alawite, Levantine, Arab, Syrian, Eastern — or some hybrid that transcends them all.
  • Syria is still subsumed in the logic of fear, which forces once diverse societies to hew to their smaller parts, obliterating the ability to imagine broader communities and other identities. Beyond a set of principles, or promises so vague as to inspire more fear, no one has described the Syria of tomorrow. Not Assad, who offers his people a path back to the 1980s, when a stern government presided over a dreary economy with the grimace of a police state. But the opposition hasn’t really either, and that lack of vision has left frightened minorities more aligned with the regime.
  • entitlement, ownership, power and fear
anonymous

Freedomhouse Report: Egypt - 0 views

  • 920s, has undergone reform, especially with respect to its procedural elements. Legal prohibitions preventing women's equal access to and representation in the judiciary have been lifted, and social taboos that have restricted their access to certain professions have been broken. At the same time, increasing poverty and hardship have taken their toll on women and their families, limiting their choices and reducing their opportunities to assert their rights.
  • According to Article 40 of the constitution, all citizens are equal, irrespective of race, ethnic origin, language, religion, or creed.[4] Article 40 does not explicitly mention gender, but it is commonly interpreted as protecting women from discrimination. In 2007, Article 62 was amended to call for minimum representation of women in the parliament, opening the door for the establishment of a quota (see "Political Rights and Civic Voice").
  • cent legislative reforms, women do not enjoy the same citizenship rights as men. The parliament amended the nationality law in 2004, allowing the children of Egyptian mothers and foreign fathers to obtain Egyptian citizenship, but the law still prohibits such children from joining the army, the police, and certain government posts
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  • Egypt ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1981. It placed reservations on Article 9(2), regarding the right of women to pass their nationality to their children; Article 16, related to equality within marriage; Article 29(2), on the resolution of disputes related to the convention; and Article 2, which calls for the implementation of policies designed to eliminate gender discrimination, on the grounds that this could violate Shari'a in some cases. The reservation to Article 9(2) was lifted in 2008 after the nationality law was amended to allow women to transfer citizenship to their children. However, the other reservations remain
  • The Egyptian delegation to CEDAW justified the reservations to Article 16 by arguing that Shari'a provides equivalent—rather than equal—rights to women that balance the prop
  • attack, organized a demonstration that was attended by over 500 people.[41] These advocacy efforts have helped lift the taboo against discussing such issues, and t
  • media are increasingly covering both the offending events and the reaction of NGO
  • Government statistics have shown improvements in the gender gap in education level
  • The 2005 elections for the People's Assembly were marked by one of the lowest female participation rates in decades. There were only 131 women out of 5,165 candidates, of which only four were elected
  • As of 2009, there were 18 female members in the 264-seat Consultative Council. No women were elected to the body during the 2004 midterm elections
  • Many women have assumed leadership positions on a local level in recent years, thus increasing their ability to influence gender-based stereotypes, ideas, and values in their communities.
  • onomic dependence on men and a patriarchal culture that mistrusts female leaders
  • fewer Egyptians favor female political empowerment
  • Reflecting this lack of confidence in female leaders, political
  • parties tend to nominate few female candidates, meaning most run as in
  • overnment. In December 2008, lawyer and Coptic Christian Eva Kyrolos became the first female mayor in Egyp
  • On March 14, 2007, the long-standing ban on female judges was lifted
  • Although public voices of dissent are suppressed, women have found multiple ways of expressing themselves, participating in civic life, and seeking to influence policy.
  • he right of women to participate as candidates in elections is hindered by their socioec
  • Amal Afifi became the country's first maazouna, or female marriage registrar
Ed Webb

Can EU's fear of terrorists give Turkey clout in ocean drilling? - 0 views

  • President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has once again stunned Europe, this time by threatening to send captured Islamic State (IS) suspects there
  • Erdogan's most recent threats came as he was responding to the European Union warning of sanctions against Turkey’s drilling operations in the eastern Mediterranean.
  • Ankara is angry that the Cyprus government is pursuing oil and natural gas exploration without ensuring the rights of the Turkish side, and that the EU is backing Cyprus. Ankara has found itself isolated. Greece, which had made exploration deals with Italy's ENI, France's Total and America's Noble and ExxonMobil, secured the full support of the United States and the EU last year. Early this year, the Republic of Cyprus, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Palestine and Egypt established the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum in Cairo.
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  • Turkey's drilling operations near Cyprus prompted the EU to threaten sanctions that stipulated severing high-level contacts with Turkey, suspending the Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement and reducing 145.8 million euros ($161.4 million) in funding the EU was to provide until 2020. On Nov. 11, the EU announced the framework of sanctions targeting people and institutions participating in Turkey’s exploration activities.
  • Europe's legal system offers flexibilities that can benefit IS members. If those sent to Germany are not definitively implicated in armed clashes, killing or torture, they can avoid the court process. Just having traveled to IS-controlled areas isn't enough; prosecutors want proof that those sent back intentionally joined IS.
  • Sending IS members back to their original countries is a major issue, even beyond Turkey’s desire to use such deportations for its own interests. The decision by some countries to revoke the citizenship of IS members has made the issue much more complex. For instance, as of February the UK had revoked the citizenship of about 100 returnees.
  • According to official data, there are 1,180 IS suspects in Turkish prisons, 250 in repatriation centers and 850 in areas Turkey controls in Syria. There are also an estimated 90,000 IS-affiliated suspects in Kurdish camps in Syria. Ankara was accused of allowing some prisoners to escape during the operation it launched in Syria last month.
  • A European official who deals with IS issues said he, like others, sees Erdogan's actions as blackmail. “Erdogan, with his blackmail policy, gets whatever he wants because economic interests override [everything else]. Fear of immigration is big," he told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity. “[European countries] didn’t want to take the IS militants and their families while they were held by Kurds; they wanted them to stay there. Some countries quietly brought over some IS families. But this is not a sustainable policy. Now as Erdogan is [deporting] them, many countries are astounded,”
Ed Webb

Our Oligarch - 0 views

  • Abramovich is perhaps the most visible of the “oligarchs” surrounding Putin, who are widely perceived as extensions of the Russian president and keepers of a vast fortune that is effectively under the Kremlin’s control. Much of this wealth was extracted from Russia’s enormous energy and mineral resources, and is now stashed in secret bank accounts in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean, in empty mansions and condos from London to Manhattan to Miami, and in yachts and private jets on the French Riviera.
  • as much as 60% of Russia’s GDP is offshore
  • The reserved, gray-bearded Abramovich is notoriously litigious toward critics who seek to detail his close ties to Putin. Last year, he successfully sued the British journalist Catherine Belton, who claimed in her 2020 book Putin’s People that the Russian president dictated Abramovich’s major purchases, including his decision to buy Chelsea. He also extracted an apology from a British newspaper for calling him a “bag carrier” for the Russian president.
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  • Abramovich—who, like many of the most prominent Russian oligarchs, is Jewish—has for years been a prolific donor to Jewish philanthropies. He has given half a billion dollars to Jewish charities over the past two decades, sending money linked to Putin’s kleptocratic regime circulating through Jewish institutions worldwide
  • Among other things, he has profoundly influenced Jewish life on three continents, developing deep financial ties with major communal institutions. He is partly responsible for the preeminent role played by Chabad in the religious life of post-Soviet Russia, for the growth of major Jewish museums from Russia to Israel, for a raft of anti-antisemitism programming involving leading American and British Jewish organizations, and for the expansion of Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem
  • the Jewish world is forced to reckon with its long embrace of Abramovich, and with the moral costs of accepting his money
  • Certain Soviet Jews of Abramovich’s generation found themselves at the forefront of an emerging market economy. Concentrated in white collar professions but systematically excluded from desirable posts and from the top ranks of the Communist Party, they were unusually prepared—and, perhaps, motivated—to find legal and semi-legal points of entry into the tightly-regulated commerce between the Soviet Union and the West. This helps explain why, as the historian Yuri Slezkine writes in The Jewish Century, six of the seven top oligarchs of 1990s Russia (Petr Aven, Boris Berezovsky, Mikhail Fridman, Vladimir Gusinsky, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and Alexander Smolensky) were ethnic Jews.
  • Boris Yeltsin soon initiated the firesale privatization of state-controlled industries at the urging of Washington and the IMF—a reckless transition from a command economy to a capitalist one that drove millions of Russians into poverty
  • the Yeltsin administration implemented its infamous loans-for-shares program, selling off key state industries in rigged auctions to Russia’s new business elite for a fraction of their real value in order to stabilize the state’s finances in the short term. Berezovsky and Abramovich gained ownership stakes in Sibneft, one of the world’s largest energy companies, and became instant billionaires.
  • In 1996, the handful of leading oligarchs pooled their financial resources—and directed their media companies’ coverage—to reelect the deeply unpopular Yeltsin over his Communist challenger, Gennady Zyuganov, whose platform of re-nationalizing industries terrified both the Russian and Western business classes
  • Fearing that it was unsustainable for a small group of mostly Jewish billionaires to prop up an ailing, visibly alcoholic president—especially after the ruble collapsed in 1998, dragging down a generation’s living standards and initiating a hunt for scapegoats—Berezovsky spearheaded an effort the following year to replace Yeltsin with a young, healthy, disciplined, and then-obscure former KGB officer named Vladimir Putin. It was a decision he would come to regret.
  • wealth so easily acquired could just as easily be taken away. In 2001, Putin hounded Berezovsky and Gusinsky—whose TV networks had criticized the president’s mishandling of a naval disaster—with criminal indictments for tax fraud, forcing them to sell their media and energy holdings at a fraction of their true cost. As a result, Abramovich, who had never challenged Putin, acquired control of Sibneft, while Berezovsky fled to the United Kingdom and Gusinsky departed for Spain and then Israel. Abramovich again came out ahead in 2003, when the oligarch Khodorkovsky was sent to a Siberian prison on tax charges after criticizing Putin for corruption, leaving his assets in the energy sector to be redistributed among those on good terms with the president.
  • “I don’t think there is a percent of independence in Abramovich,” said Roman Borisovich, a Luxembourg-based Russian banker turned anti-corruption activist who once encountered Abramovich through Berezovsky in the 1990s. “For Abramovich to stay alive, he had to turn against his master [Berezovsky], which is what he did, and he has served Putin handsomely ever since.”
  • Whereas in the Yeltsin era, the term identified a system dominated by truly independent tycoons, “Putin’s top priority when he came to power was to break that system, replacing it with a system of concentrated power in which men who are inaccurately referred to as oligarchs now have only as much access to wealth as Putin allows them to have,”
  • Even as he built up his credibility with Putin, he joined many of his fellow oligarchs in stashing his billions in Western financial institutions, which proved eager to assist. “Elites in the post-Soviet space are constantly looking to move their assets and wealth into rule-of-law jurisdictions, which generally means Western countries like the US or UK,”
  • In 2008, Berezovsky sued his former protege over his confiscated Sibneft shares; then, in 2012, seven months after a judge rejected all of his claims, Berezovsky died in his London home in an apparent suicide. Some former associates believe he might have been murdered
  • In 2017, BuzzFeed reported that US spy agencies suspect Russian involvement in as many as 14 mysterious deaths in Britain over the previous decade, including Berezovsky’s. In the wake of the 2018 poisoning of the defected double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, British intelligence services became increasingly wary of wealthy expats with close ties to the Kremlin. Diplomatic strain stymied Abramovich’s effort to acquire a Tier 1 British visa, which would have enabled him to stay in the country for 40 months.
  • “No one forced the British or American real estate industries to toss their doors open to as much illicit wealth as they could find, or the state of Delaware to craft the world’s greatest anonymous shell company services,” said Michel. “Western policymakers crafted all of the policies that these oligarchs are now taking advantage of.”
  • Abramovich also safeguarded a significant part of his fortune in the US, especially during his third marriage to the Russian American socialite and fashion designer Dasha Zhukova. Even after their 2018 divorce, Abramovich began the process of converting three adjacent townhouses on Manhattan’s Upper East Side into what will eventually become the largest home in the city, an “urban castle” valued at $180 million—making him one of the many wealthy Russians sheltering assets in New York’s booming and conveniently opaque real estate sector. (The mansion is intended for Zhukova and their two young children; Abramovich also has five children from his second marriage based primarily in the UK.) He also owns at least two homes in Aspen, Colorado, a gathering place of the global elite.
  • the oligarchs are now credibly threatened with exile from the West. Countries like France and Germany have already begun confiscating yachts owned by select Russian officials. And although the UK is still struggling to come up with a legal basis for following suit, leading politicians like Labour Leader Keir Starmer are urging direct sanctions against Abramovich. “Abramovich’s reputation has finally collapsed, along with the other supposedly apolitical oligarchs,” Michel said four days after Russia invaded Ukraine. “There’s no recovery from this. This is a titanic shift in terms of how these oligarchs can operate.”
  • Israel has been more hesitant to hold him to account.
  • In 2018, Abramovich acquired Israeli citizenship through the law of return, immediately becoming the second-wealthiest Israeli, behind Miriam Adelson. As a new Israeli citizen, he joined several dozen Russian Jewish oligarchs who have sought citizenship or residency in the Jewish state—a group that includes Fridman, Gusinsky, and the late Berezovsky. Since 2015, Abramovich has owned and sometimes lived in the 19th-century Varsano hotel in Tel Aviv’s trendy Neve Tzedek neighborhood, and in 2020 he purchased a mansion in Herzliya for $65 million—the most expensive real estate deal in the country’s history
  • As an Israeli passport holder, Abramovich is eligible to visit the UK for six months at a time and is exempt from paying taxes in Israel on his overseas income for the first decade of his residency
  • Given his increasingly precarious geopolitical position, Jewishness has become Abramovich’s identity of last resort—and Jewish philanthropic giving has provided him with an air of legitimacy not only in Israel but throughout the Jewish world. Abramovich and his fellow oligarchs “need to spend some money to launder their reputations,” said Borisovich, the anti-corruption activist. “They cannot be seen as Putin’s agents of influence; they need to be seen as independent businessmen. So if they can exploit Jewish philanthropy or give money to Oxford or the Tate Gallery, that’s the cost of doing business.”
  • A 2017 article in Politico, which identified Abramovich and Leviev as “Chabad’s biggest patrons worldwide,” also referred to Lazar as “Putin’s rabbi.” Lazar has often run interference for the Russian president—for instance, by defending his initial crackdown on oligarchs like Gusinsky as not motivated by antisemitism, or by praising Russia as safe for Jews under his governance. (The researcher noted that Putin has also cultivated prominent loyalists in other Russian religious communities, including the Orthodox Church and Islam.)
  • Abramovich also significantly funded the construction of the $50 million Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow, which opened in 2012 (and to which Putin pledged to donate a month of his presidential salary). In a 2016 article in The Forward, the scholar Olga Gershenson suggested that the museum’s narrative bordered on propaganda, framing Jews as “a model Russian minority” and “glorifying and mourning . . . without raising more controversial and relevant questions that would require the viewer to come to terms with a nation’s difficult past.”
  • “It concentrates on the Soviet victory over the Nazis, and then it ends by saying that Jews in Putin’s Russia are all good and content.”
  • “Say No to Antisemitism” has brought together Chelsea players and management with many top Jewish groups; the currents heads of the ADL, the WJC, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and the Holocaust Educational Trust, among others, are all listed on its steering committee. The campaign is at least in part intended to address the antisemitism of some Chelsea fans, who have been known to shout “Yid!” and hiss in imitation of gas chambers when taunting fans of the rival club Tottenham, which has a historically Jewish fan base that proudly refers to itself as “the Yid Army.” Last November, Israeli President Isaac Herzog described the campaign as “a shining example of how sports can be a force for good and tolerance.”
  • Abramovich is also one of the primary benefactors of a Holocaust museum that opened in Porto last May. As of last year, Abramovich is a newly minted citizen of Portugal (and by extension, the European Union), which offers such recognition to anyone who can prove Sephardic ancestry dating back before the Portuguese expulsion of Jews in 1496.
  • Berel Rosenberg, a representative of the museum, denied that Abramovich had given the Porto Jewish community any money besides a €250 fee for Sephardic certification; regarding reports to the contrary, he alleged that “lies were published by antisemites and corrupt journalists.” However, Porto’s Jewish community does acknowledge that Abramovich has donated money to projects honoring the legacy of Portuguese Sephardic Jews in Hamburg, and he has been identified as an honorary member of Chabad Portugal and B’nai B’rith International Portugal due to his philanthropic activities in the country.
  • Abramovich has made a $30 million donation for a nanotechnology research center at Tel Aviv University; funded a football-focused “leadership training program” for Arab and Jewish children; and supported KKL-JNF’s tree-planting campaign in the southern Negev, which is dedicated to Lithuanian victims of the Holocaust—and which has drawn opposition from local Bedouin communities who view it as a land grab.
  • he has kept his support for Israeli settlements well-hidden
  • Abramovich has used front companies registered in the British Virgin Islands to donate more than $100 million to a right-wing Israeli organization called the Ir David Foundation, commonly known as Elad, which has worked since the 1980s to move Jewish settlers into occupied East Jerusalem. Elad also controls an archeological park and major tourist site called City of David, which it has leveraged in its efforts to “Judaize” the area, including by seizing Palestinian homes in the surrounding neighborhood of Silwan and digging under some to make them uninhabitable.
  • “In order for settlers to take over Palestinian homes, they need a lot of money,” said Hagit Ofran, co-director of the Settlement Watch project at the Israeli organization Peace Now, “both to take advantage of poor Palestinians for the actual purchases, and then for the long and expensive legal struggle that follows, and that can bankrupt Palestinian families. The money is crucial.” Of Abramovich’s support for Elad, she added, “That’s a lot from one source; I assume that if you give such a big donation, you know what it is for.”
  • Just two days before Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine, it was reported that Abramovich is donating tens of millions of dollars to Yad Vashem, the global Holocaust remembrance center in Jerusalem
  • Yad Vashem chairman Dani Dayan joined the heads of multiple Israeli charitable organizations in urging the US not to sanction Abramovich. The letter was also signed by Chief Rabbi of Israel David Lau and representatives of Sheba Medical Center, Tel Aviv University, and Elad
  • Oleg Deripaska and Mikhail Fridman, were already calling for peace negotiations just three days after the invasion. (Fridman and Deripaska are also major Jewish philanthropists, as are other Russian oligarchs including Petr Aven, Yuri Milner, and Viktor Vekselberg. All of them now face global scrutiny.)
  • Even before he announced he would be setting up a charity to help victims in Ukraine, members of Abramovich’s family were quick to distance themselves from the war: A contemporary art museum in Moscow co-founded by Abramovich and Zhukova has announced that it will halt all new exhibitions in protest of the war. Abramovich’s 27-year-old daughter Sofia, who lives in London, posted a message on her popular Instagram account that read, “The biggest and most successful lie of the Kremlin’s propaganda is that most Russians stand with Putin.”
  • Abramovich and others have spent more than two decades loyally serving and profiting off Putin’s corrupt and violent regime—one that has been accused of murdering and jailing journalists and political dissidents and of committing war crimes from Chechnya to Syria. And for much of that time, Jewish institutions worldwide have been more than happy to take money from Abramovich and his peers
  • longstanding philanthropic ties may affect the Jewish communal world’s willingness to hold Russia accountable for its violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty
  • “I think the view of much of Jewish philanthropic leadership, right and left, conservative and liberal, has been the bottom line: If the purposes for which the philanthropy is given are positive, humane, holy, and seen to strengthen both the Jewish community and the whole of society, then to sit and analyze whether the donor was exploitive or not, and whether this was kosher or not, would be hugely diverting, amazingly complicated, and divisive.”
  • Rabbi Jill Jacobs, executive director of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, acknowledged the difficulty of making ethical calls about donors, but argued that the attempt is still necessary. “In philanthropy, nearly all money is tainted, either because it was acquired by exploiting workers, by harming the environment, by selling harmful products, or by taking advantage of systems that benefit the wealthy to the detriment of others. That said, we can’t throw up our hands and say that we can either take no money or all money; there have to be red lines,” she said.
  • Berman, the scholar of Jewish philanthropy, agrees. “It is tempting to say all money is fungible, so where it came from does not or cannot matter,” she said. “But no matter how much we might want to launder the money, wash it clean of its past and its connections to systems of power, the very act of doing so is an erasure, an act of historical revisionism. Even worse, it can actually participate in bolstering harmful systems of power, often by deterring institutions reliant on that money from holding a person or system to account.”
Ed Webb

Palestinian in Israel - Foreign Policy - 0 views

  • “I don’t use the term Arab-Israeli,” said the 30-year-old journalist, who was born in the Galilee and now lives in the northern city of Haifa. “We are Palestinians with Israeli citizenship. It’s very important for us, the terms and the terminology we use.”
  • Arab-Israeli—the official media and Israeli government term for the 20 percent of Israel’s almost 9 million citizens who are Arab-Palestinian—is increasingly unpopular among the people it’s meant to describe. Only 16 percent of this population wants to be called Arab-Israeli, according to a 2017 survey by the University of Haifa professor Sammy Smooha provided to Foreign Policy.
  • Last summer’s adoption of the new nation-state law, which demoted the status of both the Arabic language and non-Jewish minorities in Israel, accelerated an ongoing shift in the public identity of the Palestinian population in Israel. It is a political statement to use Palestinian as a modifier—a link to cousins in the West Bank and Gaza and an identity distinct from fellow Jewish Israeli citizens.
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  • the increasingly assertive identity of Palestinians in Israel runs parallel to an ongoing reframing of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a civil rights struggle, both in Israel and the occupied territories
  • Palestinian citizens of Israel—also now referred to as Palestinians inside Israel, ’48 Arabs, Palestinian Arabs, Palestinian Israelis, Arab-Israelis—are part of the communities that remained inside the so-called Green Line drawn between Israel and Jordan after the 1948 war. They include Druze (a religious minority), Bedouins, Christians, and Muslims. This group, in theory, has the same rights as Jewish Israelis. In practice, though, they’ve long faced institutional discrimination, and about half of the population lives in poverty, the highest rate in Israel. Even the Druze, who have historically been the most integrated into Israeli society, including serving in the Israel Defense Forces, are furious that the new nation-state law targets them, too. (Among the different Druze communities, a minority is located in the occupied Golan Heights and still rejects Israeli citizenship and identifies as Syrian.)
  • with talk in Israel and the Palestinian territories of a two-state solution shifting now toward a one-state reality—be it either one binational state or one Jewish state where not all Palestinians have equal rights—some Palestinians inside Israel are asserting these two parts of their identity as the core of a more rights-based discourse
  • one significant finding of Smooha’s data is not simply that Arab-Israeli is an unpopular option but rather that more people are rejecting the Israeli part of the identity all together. Since 2003, about 30 percent of respondents have reported that they prefer the term “Palestinian Arab in Israel.” But while in 2003 just 3.7 percent said they prefer the term “Palestinian Arab” (which doesn’t reference their Israeli component at all), in 2017 that number rose to 17 percent
  • “We are not here nor there,” she said. “They [outsiders] think the ’48 [Arabs] live so well. We are poor! In the West Bank, they think that we ’48 Arabs are like Jews. … And here the Jews say we are Arabs.”
Ed Webb

Why a One-State Solution is the Only Solution - 0 views

  • As he tried to rescue what had become known as “the peace process,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told Congress that the two-state solution had one to two years left before it would no longer be viable. That was six years ago. Resolution 2334, which the UN Security Council passed with U.S. consent in late 2016, called for “salvaging the two-state solution” by demanding a number of steps, including an immediate end to Israeli settlement building in the occupied territories. That was three years ago. And since then, Israel has continued to build and expand settlements.
  • What Trump had in mind has become clear in the years that have followed, as he and his team have approved a right-wing Israeli wish list aimed at a one-state outcome—but one that will enshrine Israeli dominance over Palestinian subjects, not one that will grant the parties equal rights. 
  • Under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel has abandoned any pretense of seeking a two-state solution, and public support for the concept among Israelis has steadily dwindled. Palestinian leaders continue to seek a separate state. But after years of failure and frustration, most Palestinians no longer see that path as viable.
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  • Netanyahu and Trump are seeking not to change the status quo but merely to ratify it
  • the only moral path forward is to recognize the full humanity of both peoples
  • Between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea live approximately 13 million people, all under the control of the Israeli state. Roughly half of them are Palestinian Arabs, some three million of whom live under a military occupation with no right to vote for the government that rules them and around two million of whom live in Israel as second-class citizens, discriminated against based on their identity, owing to Israel’s status as a Jewish state. Two million more Palestinians live in the besieged Gaza Strip, where the militant group Hamas exercises local rule: an open-air prison walled off from the world by an Israeli blockade.
  • the dilemmas posed by partition long predate 1967 and stem from a fundamentally insoluble problem. For the better part of a century, Western powers—first the United Kingdom and then the United States—have repeatedly tried to square the same circle: accommodating the Zionist demand for a Jewish-majority state in a land populated overwhelmingly by Palestinians. This illogical project was made possible by a willingness to dismiss the humanity and rights of the Palestinian population and by sympathy for the idea of creating a space for Jews somewhere outside Europe—a sentiment that was sometimes rooted in an anti-Semitic wish to reduce the number of Jews in the Christian-dominated West.
  • among Jewish Israelis, annexation is not a controversial idea. A recent poll showed that 48 percent of them support steps along the lines of what Netanyahu proposed; only 28 percent oppose them. Even Netanyahu’s main rival, the centrist Blue and White alliance, supports perpetual Israeli control of the Jordan Valley. Its leaders’ response to Netanyahu’s annexation plan was to complain that it had been their idea first. 
  • one national intelligence estimate drawn up by U.S. agencies judged that if Israel continued the occupation and settlement building for “an extended period, say two to three years, it will find it increasingly difficult to relinquish control.” Pressure to hold on to the territories “would grow, and it would be harder to turn back to the Arabs land which contained such settlements.” That estimate was written more than 50 years ago, mere months after the Israeli occupation of the West Bank began. Nevertheless, Israel has forged ahead with its expansion and has enjoyed unflinching U.S. support, even as Israeli officials periodically warned about its irreversibility. 
  • Under Oslo, the Palestinians have had to rely on the United States to treat Israel with a kind of tough love that American leaders, nervous about their domestic support, have never been able to muster.
  • As the failure of the peace process became clearer over time, Palestinians rose up against the occupation—sometimes violently. Israel pointed to those reactions to justify further repression. But the cycle was enabled by Palestinian leaders who resigned themselves to having to prove to Israel’s satisfaction that Palestinians were worthy of self-determination—something to which all peoples are in fact entitled.
  • Today, large numbers of Israelis support keeping much of the occupied territories forever
  • the nakba—the “catastrophe.” The 19 years that followed might be the only time in the past two millennia that the land of Palestine was actually divided. None of the great powers who had ruled over the territory—the Romans, the Byzantines, the Umayyads, the Abbasids, the Fatimids, the crusaders, the Ayyubids, the Mameluks, the Ottomans, the British—had ever divided Gaza from Jerusalem, Nablus from Nazareth, or Jericho from Jaffa. Doing so never made sense, and it still doesn’t. Indeed, when Israel took control of the territories in 1967, it actually represented a return to a historical norm of ruling the land as a single unit. But it did so with two systems, one for Jewish Israelis and the other for the people living on the land that the Israelis had conquered.
  • in the wake of the Holocaust, a UN partition plan presented a similar vision, with borders drawn to create a Jewish-majority state and with the Palestinians again divided into multiple entities. 
  • This formulation contained a fundamental flaw, one that would mar all future partition plans, as well: it conceived of the Jews as a people with national rights but did not grant the same status to the Palestinians. The Palestinian population could therefore be moved around and dismembered, because they were not a people deserving of demographic cohesion.
  • Actual progress in the talks would threaten Jewish control of the land, something that has proved more important to Israel than democracy.
  • Having led the armed struggle against Israel for decades, Yasir Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization was known and accepted by ordinary Palestinians. By the late 1980s, however, the group had become a shell of its former self. Already isolated by its exile in Tunisia, the PLO became even weaker in 1990 after its wealthy patrons in the Gulf cut funding when Arafat backed Saddam Hussein’s grab for Kuwait. On the ground in the territories, meanwhile, the first intifada—a grassroots revolt against the occupation—was making news and threatening to displace the PLO as the face of Palestinian resistance. By embracing the Oslo process, Arafat and his fellow PLO leaders found a personal path back to influence and relevance—while trapping the Palestinian community in a bind that has held them back ever since.
  • The time has come for the Palestinian Authority to abandon its advocacy of a two-state solution, an idea that has become little more than a fig leaf for the United States and other great powers to hide behind while they allow Israel to proceed with de facto apartheid.
  • Some will object that such a shift in strategy would undercut the hard-won consensus, rooted in decades of activism and international law, that the Palestinians have a right to their own state. That consensus, however, has produced little for the Palestinians. Countless UN resolutions have failed to stop Israeli settlements or gain Palestinians a state, so they wouldn’t be losing much. And in a one-state solution worthy of the name, Palestinians would win full equality under the law, so they would be gaining a great deal. 
  • A poll conducted last year by the University of Maryland found that Americans were roughly evenly split between supporting a two-state solution and supporting a one-state solution with equal rights for all inhabitants. Yet when asked what they preferred if a two-state solution were not possible (which it isn’t), the status quo or one state with equal rights, they chose the latter by a two-to-one margin. 
  • Israelis would benefit from a shift to such a state, as well. They, too, would gain security, stability, and growth, while also escaping international isolation and reversing the moral rot that the occupation has produced in Israeli society. At the same time, they would maintain connections to historical and religious sites in the West Bank. Most Israelis would far prefer to perpetuate the status quo. But that is just not possible. Israel cannot continue to deny the rights of millions of Palestinians indefinitely and expect to remain a normal member of the international community.
  • not only a new state but also a new constitution. That would both demonstrate their commitment to democracy and highlight Israel’s lack of the same. When the country was founded in 1948, Zionist leaders were trying to expedite the arrival of more Jews, prevent the return of Palestinians, and seize as much land as possible. They had no interest in defining citizenship criteria, rights, or constraints on government power. So instead of writing a constitution, the Jewish state instituted a series of “basic laws” in an ad hoc fashion, and these have acquired some constitutional weight over time.
  • Israelis and Palestinians should work together to craft a constitution that would uphold the rights of all.
  • despite national narratives and voices on either side that claim otherwise, both peoples have historical ties to the land
  • A new constitution could offer citizenship to all the people currently living in the land between the river and the sea and to Palestinian refugees and would create pathways for immigrants from elsewhere to become citizens. All citizens would enjoy full civil and political rights, including the freedom of movement, religion, speech, and association. And all would be equal before the law: the state would be forbidden from discriminating on the basis of ethnicity or religion.
  • they would be subject to a very high bar for amendment—say, a requirement of at least 90 percent approval in the legislative branch. This would ensure that basic rights could not be altered by means of a simple majority and would prohibit any one group from using a demographic advantage to alter the nature of the state.
  • the new state would also need a truth-and-reconciliation process focused on restorative justice
  • How many more decades of failure must we endure before we can safely conclude that partition is a dead end?
Ed Webb

The Israeli right's new vision of Jewish political supremacy - 0 views

  • The settlement project's success has led to an intertwined Jewish and Palestinian population, reviving the problem Israel tried to solve through expulsion in 1948. Now, the right's priority is segregation.
  • a new trend has emerged within the dominant stream of the Israeli political right: the nation, rather than the land, is now at the heart of right-wing discourse
  • This has manifested in the progression of anti-democratic legislation, incitement against Palestinian citizens of Israel and left-wing organizations and activists, and in emphasizing the idea of the “Jewish state.”
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  • The culmination of this process was the passing of the Jewish Nation-State Law in the Knesset in July 2018.
  • The Zionist project is committed to a well-defined ethnic-religious group, at a defined point in space and time. In that, Zionism is not unique, of course: the commitment of nationalistic movements in general is limited and defined a priori, and therefore exclusion, marginalization of, and separation from the Other (not to mention expulsion of that Other) are inherent to them and are their by-products
  • why the Jewish Nation-State Law was enacted 70 years after the state’s establishment rather than immediately thereafter
  • The common explanation for the rise of this new discourse is that years of occupation have weakened liberal values in Israel, and the nationalist right-wing governments are stronger than ever. As such, the right is now able to implement its ethnocentric and anti-liberal ideology and weaken the democratic character of the state’s institutions.
  • the nationalist discourse serves to shore up a new electoral project led by the right-wing political parties.
  • The logic is simple: if it is no longer effective to talk about the indivisible land (as belonging to the Jews), let us instead talk about the indivisible nation and mark external and internal enemies. According to this understanding, the wave of anti-democratic legislation, especially the Jewish Nation-State Law, serves as propaganda that bolsters the coalescing of the right wing around an ethnocentric agenda. In other words, the messianic-nationalist energy is directed inwards rather than outwards.
  • a state that grants a privileged status to Jews is no longer regarded as a self-evident phenomenon
  • the old tools that served to maintain Jewish political supremacy are no longer sufficient, and there is a need for active separation and active legitimization. Separation is no longer the result of history; rather, it must be inscribed on the political body by law and politics and must be enforced.
  • For a short time, from the beginning of the 1990s until the beginning of the Netanyahu era in 2009, it seemed possible to talk about the right of self-determination for both peoples, and the two-state solution appeared to be at hand.
  • The notion of “two states for two peoples” that took root in the collective Israeli consciousness as an optimal, realistic, and implementable solution to the conflict created an illusion of separation between the two populations — as if they were separate political entities. Although this separation was to be fully implemented at some point in the future and was repeatedly postponed, Israelis felt that the two-state paradigm implied that the Palestinians in the occupied territories were over “there,” on the other side of the border, on the way to their independent state with an anthem, a flag, and independent prisons, outside of “our” (i.e. of the Israeli-Jewish national collective) responsibility. Israel’s decision to restrict Palestinians’ freedom of movement between the territories and Israel during the First Intifada, and the establishment of the Palestinian Authority pursuant to the Oslo Accords, contributed to this experience of separation.
  • With the promise of the preservation of a Jewish majority within the ’67 boundaries — albeit through a future solution not yet fully implemented on the ground — it appeared easier for Israel to move, however slowly and tentatively, along the liberal path in their attitude toward Palestinian citizens. This tendency expressed itself in the “constitutional revolution” and the policies of the Rabin government in the early to mid-1990s. These policies strengthened the “democratic” aspect of the “Jewish and democratic” equation and began to advance the status of the Palestinians as citizens with equal rights, even if only rhetorically.
  • That era, which was one of partial optimism for Palestinian citizens and for human and civil rights in Israel, continued until the beginning of the 21st century, when the Second Intifada broke out during Ehud Barak’s government and Israeli police shot dead 13 Palestinian citizens as they were protesting in October 2000. This event marked a new rupture regarding the place of Palestinians in Israeli society. A few years later, with Netanyahu at the helm, a tendency to continually incite against Palestinian citizens of Israel developed, and the cautious optimism evaporated.
  • The new nationalist/ethno-religious discourse, and in particular the new law, which has been assiduously promoted for many years, is not merely a replay of history or its direct continuation. They are not merely expressions of anti-liberal and ethnocentric trends enabled by the strengthening of the right, or a mere reaction to the Palestinians’ vision documents. And they are not merely intended to create further political bias or to redefine the limits of political legitimacy. Rather, they constitute an innovation in the Israeli right’s political project, by serving the need to actively and legally enshrine Jewish privileges, despite the fact that these exist anyway, and to give them a new constitutional framing and anchoring. This effort has successfully rallied a significant part of the Jewish-Israeli population.
  • two groups figure prominently between the Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea: the Palestinian citizens of Israel and the Jewish settlers in the West Bank
  • The crumbling of the two-state idea and the blurring of the Green Line led to a de facto single geopolitical entity in which both populations are mixed to some degree. The sharp distinction between the Palestinians “there” and the Israeli Jews “here” became hazy. Before, the two-state solution created the illusion of separation into two independent entities and removed the Palestinians from the Israeli political awareness; now, even this “calming” sensation diminished. Before, it could be claimed that the Palestinians in the territories were headed for their own separate and independent state; now, it has become clear that the territories are here, in a de facto Greater Israel, and so are the Palestinians.
  • The Jewish settlers, for their part, strengthened their presence in the occupied territories, and are no longer marginal or temporary inhabitants. The more their presence in the territories is perceived as natural, the more they bring the territories into Israel, creating a new geographic unity.
  • the Israeli right has had to pay a significant price for this success: in this unified space (unified only for Jews because Palestinians cannot move freely within it), the Jewish majority is no longer self-evident. The settlement project brought back the problem that Zionism solved through expulsion in 1948.
  • Expelling the Palestinians from the territories is no longer an option that can be openly discussed; neither can the Palestinians be offered full citizenship (though this possibility can be bandied about for propaganda reasons). The first possibility is untenable because of international pressure, the second because of the Jews. We are stuck in the situation that had existed during the British Mandate: one geopolitical entity with two peoples mixed together. This time, however, we are not under the Mandate, but under Israeli rule.
  • All of this helps clarify the role of the new nationalist/ethno-religious discourse: it is a discourse of segregation.
  • with the crumbling of the two-state paradigm, the blurring of the Green Line and the continuing effort to extend the Jewish state over the entirety of Greater Israel, the settler right sees a need to conceptualize Jewish privileges, this time within a patently non-democratic regime between the river and the sea, which is expected to be based on a Jewish minority. The 1948 expulsion, which was a solution to the demographic problem, is no longer feasible, and therefore the need arises to establish a new-fangled apartheid regime. The Jewish Nation-State Law embodies the core of this attempt
  • In contrast to the classical discourse of Greater Israel, which was focused on “unifying” two separate regimes on two separate tracts of land — Israel and the occupied territories — the new discourse is an attempt to push for the legal segregation of two populations intermixed within the same territorial framework.
  • The segregation inspired by the law is not a division between “here” and “there” but between “us” and “them” — between Jews and Palestinians, no matter where they live between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River. It is not based on dividing the territory into two territories, but dividing the two people within one single territory.
  • True, the two-state paradigm is also a paradigm of separation, but it is a separation of two distinct political frameworks. Apartheid, on the other hand, separates populations that share a territory within one comprehensive political sovereign framework. Acting within a unified entity, such separation is surgical — i.e. violent and destructive.
  • the question of the Jewish democratic state and that of Greater Israel — the internal question and the external question — become two aspects of the same project: to legitimize the privilege of Jews over Palestinians between the river and the sea.
  • With the blurring of the Green Line and the return of the demographic threat, the logic of separation from the Palestinians has been abandoned and replaced with the logic of a segregating regime. It is a regime in which one group clearly dominates another; in which that domination is comprehensive and permanent, rather than temporary and security-based; and which is maintained by a legal system and reinforced by a violent and forceful state.
  • This dominating logic and the fact that the plan arranges for segregation, not separation, is clear when looking at the map included with the proposal. The Palestinian entity is surrounded on all sides by Israeli sovereignty: in the air and on the ground, from the north, south, east, and west. Segregation based on ethnicity, religion, and nationality, rather than on territory, is complemented by two other aspects in the plan, reflecting the demise of the Green Line: its treatment of settlers, and of Palestinian citizens in Israel
  • the current plan discards territorial logic and treats Palestinians’ citizenship as a problem to be solved, and the status of settlers as a given and immutable fact
  • it departs from the conflict management paradigm in order to impose a one-sided American-Israeli vision to “end” the conflict, or rather eliminate it without solving it.
Ed Webb

Obama officials' spin on Benghazi attack mirrors Bin Laden raid untruths | Glenn Greenw... - 0 views

  • The Obama White House's interest in spreading this falsehood is multi-fold and obvious:For one, the claim that this attack was just about anger over an anti-Muhammad video completely absolves the US government of any responsibility or even role in provoking the anti-American rage driving it. After all, if the violence that erupted in that region is driven only by anger over some independent film about Muhammad, then no rational person would blame the US government for it, and there could be no suggestion that its actions in the region – things like this, and this, and this, and this – had any role to play.
  • it's deeply satisfying to point over there at those Muslims and scorn their primitive religious violence, while ignoring the massive amounts of violence to which one's own country continuously subjects them. It's much more fun and self-affirming to scoff: "can you believe those Muslims are so primitive that they killed our ambassador over a film?" than it is to acknowledge: "our country and its allies have continually bombed, killed, invaded, and occupied their countries and supported their tyrants."
  • the self-loving mindset that enables the New York Times to write an entire editorial today purporting to analyze Muslim rage without once mentioning the numerous acts of American violence aimed at them
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  • Critics of the war in Libya warned that the US was siding with (and arming and empowering) violent extremists, including al-Qaida elements, that would eventually cause the US to claim it had to return to Libya to fight against them – just as its funding and arming of Saddam in Iraq and the mujahideen in Afghanistan subsequently justified new wars against those one-time allies
  • The falsehood told by the White House – this was just a spontaneous attack prompted by this video that we could not have anticipated and had nothing to do with – fixed all of those problems. Critical attention was thus directed to Muslims (what kind of people kill an ambassador over a film?) and away from the White House and its policies.
  • the number one rule of good journalism, even of good citizenship, is to remember that "all governments lie." Yet, no matter how many times we see this axiom proven true, over and over, there is still a tendency, a desire, to believe that the US government's claims are truthful and reliable.
Ed Webb

In many countries, Millennials more inclusive than elders in views of national identity... - 0 views

  • Across a number of countries that are wrestling with the politics of national identity, younger people are far more likely than their elders to take an inclusive view of what it takes for people to be truly considered “one of us” – whether the measure is being born in their country, sharing local customs and traditions or being Christian.
  • The divide between the young and the old over birthright nationality is quite wide in certain European countries: 21 percentage points in the United Kingdom and 16 points each in Greece and Spain
  • Views on the importance of culture to national identity also split along generational lines. A majority (55%) of older Americans but only 28% of younger adults believe it is very important that a person share U.S. national customs and traditions to be truly American. There is a similar 20-point generation gap in Australia, Canada and Japan.
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  • In these predominantly Christian countries, older people are generally much more likely than younger ones to link national identity to being Christian.
  • only in Greece (65% of those ages 50 and older) does a majority of any age group believe it is very important for one to be Christian to be a true national
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    Important data for thinking comparatively about the relationship between certain aspects of identity and perceptions about national belonging.
Ed Webb

Talk Like an Iranian - Christopher de Bellaigue - The Atlantic - 1 views

  • Ta’arof comes from an Arabic word denoting the process of getting acquainted with someone. But as with so many other Arabic words that have entered the Persian language through conquest and acculturation, the Iranians have subverted its meaning. In the Iranian context, ta’arof refers to a way of managing social relations with decorous manners. It may be charming and a basis for mutual goodwill, or it may be malicious, a social or political weapon that confuses the recipient and puts him at a disadvantage. Ta’arof is the opposite of calling a spade a spade; life is so much nicer without bad news. As I discovered in the Department of Alien Affairs, ta’arof can also be a way of letting people down very, very slowly. It often involves some degree of self-abasement, through which the giver of ta’arof achieves a kind of moral ascendancy—what the anthro­pologist William Beeman has called “getting the lower hand.” Thus, at a doorway, grown men may be seen wrestling for the privilege of going in second. For years in Tehran, we had a cleaner who insisted on calling me “Doctor” as a way of lifting me up the social scale. “I am not a doctor,” I snapped one day. Undaunted, she replied, “Please God, you shall be!”
  • Ta’arof can be particularly dis­orienting for Americans, who tend to prize efficiency, frankness, and in­formality. John Limbert, a retired diplomat who has been involved in Iranian affairs for 50 years, has given this culture clash more thought than most. Iranian society, he notes, is full of apparently inconsistent elements that we in the West regard as hypo­critical. “Our instincts are to reconcile the contra­dictions,” he told me recently, while Iranians prefer “to live with them.” Limbert was among the Americans held hostage by a group of Iranian militants for 444 days in 1979–81. In April 1980, he was paraded on Iranian TV alongside the revolutionary cleric Ali Khamenei. In flawless Persian, Limbert joked that his captors had “overdone the ta’arof”—­going on to explain that they were such diligent hosts, they had refused to let their guests go home. The joke was itself a very Iranian way to level a sharp criticism: it allowed Limbert to highlight the hostage-takers’ breach of traditional Iranian hospitality.
  • Ta’arof is not always supposed to have a resolution; the best conclusion may be an open-ended one. So it has proved with Iran’s nuclear dossier. So, too, with my own, more personal, diplomacy. I applied for Iranian citizenship in 2004. My “accomplish­ments” have not diminished. But I am still waiting for a reply.
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