The Dictator Quadrille

Whtie Saviours of Arabia

The Dictator Quadrille

Did you cheer when NATO boots smashed into the face of Afghanistan?
those evil Taliban, hate hate hate, such primitives, more sanctions
and the wall came down, Brzezsinski crowed.
Did you party when US bombs destroyed the Koranic library in Baghdad,
because democracy is messy? So Cheney gloated.
Saddam is gone, pushed off the long drop.
Aren’t they better off now? history is a sweet crude encumbrance.
Did you share a joke or two when Gaddafi was clubbed in a culvert,
raped with a knife – all hail NATO, such zealot humanitarians,
AFRICOM, civilised pointy ends over means,
millions of liquidated lives afri-forgotten beyond trothawk triumph at chaos.
Great white saviours! power vacuum cleaners armed with fake incubator Saudi sat pics
sarin barrel WMDs chemical Putin Niger uranium Lockerbie Russian attacks.
Empire gives notice to the latest demon of infinite malevolence, Assad,
usurps the right to protect us all from remembering,
betrays landlocked Kurds again already.
Do you recall Halabja, Amiriyah, Fallujah?
The price, Madeline snarled, was worth it, and who paid?
not nationalist PR agents in their recliner rockers, hunched over lethal keyboards.
Your pillars of wisdom are mirages of multi-imperialism,
Syriabara buttressed by indifference to brown people squatting on our oil,
may they buy our weapons as penance.
Once venerated as obedient dancers, dictatorships topple dramatically when they stand on imperial toes.
Like Alice, the last thing you remember is the cat’s grin above the chess board,
then repeat after me, “I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t care” as you disappear.

October 2015

Related Links

“For the last year-and-a-half we have said Assad has to go, but how long and what the modality is … that’s a decision that has to be made in the context of the Geneva process and negotiation,” Mr Kerry said.’ http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-09-20/kerry-calls-for-renwed-effort-on-syria-conflict/6789582
Assad ‘part of solution in Syria’ — Julie Bishop signals policy change  http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/foreign-affairs/assad-part-of-solution-in-syria-julie-bishop-signals-policy-change/story-fn59nm2j-1227544502722?sv=73a358828d8d737433cc8b39f524c09f
The Red Line and the Rat Line http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n08/seymour-m-hersh/the-red-line-and-the-rat-line
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/saddam/kurds/cron.html
A Great Analysis of the Neocon BS the Guardian Has Been Selling Lately

“You can really have no notion how delightful it will be
When they take us up and throw us, with the lobsters, out to sea!”
http://www.authorama.com/alice-in-wonderland-10.html

“Brzezinski: It isn’t quite that. We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.

Q: When the Soviets justified their intervention by asserting that they intended to fight against a secret involvement of the United States in Afghanistan, people didn’t believe them. However, there was a basis of truth. You don’t regret anything today?

Brzezinski: Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter: We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.

Q: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic [integrisme], having given arms and advice to future terrorists?

Brzezinski: What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?

Q: Some stirred-up Moslems? But it has been said and repeated: Islamic fundamentalism represents a world menace today.

Brzezinski: Nonsense! It is said that the West had a global policy in regard to Islam. That is stupid. There isn’t a global Islam. Look at Islam in a rational manner and without demagoguery or emotion. It is the leading religion of the world with 1.5 billion followers. But what is there in common among Saudi Arabian fundamentalism, moderate Morocco, Pakistan militarism, Egyptian pro-Western or Central Asian secularism? Nothing more than what unites the Christian countries.”

http://www.counterpunch.org/1998/01/15/how-jimmy-carter-and-i-started-the-mujahideen/

BDS Attacked by the Deir Yassin Remembered

Musician and self-professed propagandist for Israel, Idan Raichel is scheduled to play in New York at the World Music Institute on November 18. More than 4000 individuals and 50 groups have called on the WMI for Raichel’s concert to be cancelled due to his role as a ‘cultural ambassador for Israel who provides “uncritical support for the Israeli military and government.”’

The Adalah-NY petition to the WMI states:

Idan Raichel has publicly endorsed torture and explicitly describes his role as an artist in terms of uncritical support for the Israeli military and government. He wrote in the Jerusalem Post in June 2014 that “In creating this musical project we feel as if we are cultural ambassadors for Israel.” He added, “When I look back over the past few years, I see an Israel I am happy with … Raichel summarized his views in 2012, saying, “I believe that our role as artists is to enlist in the Israeli propaganda campaign [Hasbara]… I would like to encourage our soldiers, yes, who are so moral, and encourage the IDF, a more moral army you will not find in the entire world.”’

Palestinian Campaign for Cultural and Academic Boycott of Israel (PACBI) representative, Samia Botmeh commented:

PACBI calls for boycotting Idan Raichel’s performances because he is a cultural ambassador of Israel, as both he and the Israeli foreign ministry have boasted. Raichel is willingly lending his name to the Israeli government to re-brand itself and perform damage control after its latest massacre in Gaza. No matter how hard Raichel and other cultural, scientific and academic ambassadors of Israel try to whitewash Israel’s horrific crimes against humanity, people of conscience can see right through their propaganda.’

DYR emailUsually it is proud Zionists and Israel right-or-wrong supporters who malign actions for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS). However, responding by email on 1 November 2014 to a request for support for a petition against Raichel’s culture-washing performance, the Deir Yassin Remembered Board labelled the Raichel boycott campaign as “gatekeeping”, ‘a tactic used often by Zionists and by people like Ali Abunimah. Hence we would oppose DYR gatekeeping anyone, including this fellow.

BDS, a Palestinian-led human rights-based movement with overwhelming support from Palestinian civil society, is aimed at applying pressure on the Israeli regime in order to achieve justice and rights for Palestinians living under Israeli rule, whether in Israel or in the territories it occupied in 1967, as well as the refugees scattered around the globe. Scurrilously, the DYR is attacking both the BDS tactic chosen by oppressed Palestinians themselves, in effect making Palestinians superfluous to their own liberation movement, and more specifically Ali Abunimah, well-known Palestinian journalist and activist.

The DYR organisation, a 501c3 tax-exempt, non-profit organization (EIN 20-2681812), has been described by one ex-Board member as a one man show, the work of Daniel McGowan, a retired professor of economics, who set it up in 1995. McGowan expressed his rightwing views on the boycott of apartheid South Africa in 1995.

As a conservative professor of economics at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York, I disagreed with such prohibitions and political obstructions to the free flow of capital.

In 2009, McGowan blatantly defends Holocaust denial and trumpets noxious pro-imperialist apologetics: ‘The Holocaust narrative of systematic, industrialized extermination was an important neo-conservative tool to drive the United States into Iraq.

For McGowan, DYR Board Director Paul Eisen, Board Advisor Paul Findley, Board Advisor Henry Herskowitz, ex DYR Board Advisor Israel Shamir and supporters Alison Weir and Gilad Atzmon, “Jewish power” causes the US to misbehave – if it weren’t for “Jewish power”, somehow the US empire would be benevolent. This imperialist, white supremacist trope is refuted by the consistent behaviour of the US empire elsewhere. As Gabriel Ash writes:

Overarching strategic doctrines issued by successive administrations articulate how the U.S. government conceives its long term maintenance and aggrandisement. It is here that one locates the basic imperatives driving U.S. foreign policy: containing rival imperial powers, advancing the powers of markets through pro-U.S. and pro-capitalist regimes and defeating indigenous and popular challenges to capitalism in general and to friendly regimes in particular. It is at this level that Israel fits in to U.S. foreign policy. Israel is part of a network of states under U.S. hegemony. It must be defended not only for what it does for the U.S., but primarily for what it is, namely, an element of the global assertion of western power. The strategic importance of the Middle East and Israel’s own lack of alternatives further make it one of the U.S.’s safest allies.

Both Findley and McGowan are involved with Weir’s Council for the National Interest – Weir’s If Americans Knew and CNI organisations both endorse a paid September 2014 oped from DYR in the New York Times.

According to its site, DYR ostensibly was organised to build a memorial to Palestinians massacred by Zionists in 1948 at Deir Yassin. Three memorial sculptures and plaques have been established elsewhere – in Geneva (New York), Glasgow and East Jerusalem.

Although the main purpose of Deir Yassin Remembered is to build a suitable memorial, the organisation also has a broader, more humanitarian objective. It will work to eliminate prejudice against Palestinians and to promote the human side of a people who have been the victims of the Zionist colonisation of their land and of the apartheid conditions under which they now live.

From its email dated 1 November 2014 above, however, it appears the current Board Directors believe DYR can fulfill its goals by attempting, as do Zionists, to tarnish the chosen BDS tactic of Palestinian civil society and dehumanise Palestinian activists like Ali Abunimah who critique white supremacist opportunism posturing as solidarity. This phenomenon demonstrates the nexus between white supremacism, zionism and imperialism.

While for a few years from 2007, the organisation began to provide educational scholarships for Palestinians, this was abandoned in 2011. Around 8 scholarships were delivered through donations received by the organisation.

The advisors of the DYR Board have changed over the years yet the names of people who have left often remain on the site for many years after their departure, despite requests to remove them. Human rights lawyer Lea Tsemel left the board in 2005 along with Michael Warschawski. Lea’s name remains on the board list to this day.

To the Directors of DYR
We have been supporters of DYR from its very first days, and identified fully with its goals and objectives. During a recent tour in the US, we discovered that Israel Shamir has been included in the advisory board of DYR.

There is no room for a racist in an institution aimed to fight for the memory of the Deir Yassin victims of Ethnic cleansing and massacre. We therefore ask you to clarify whether or not Israel Shamir is indeed part of DYR. If it is the case and you have no intention to exclude him in order to keep the moral integrity of DYR, we will have to disconect ourselves from it.

Please forward this letter to all the members of the Advisory board.

Lea Tsemel, Michael Warschawski

Norman Finkelstein, Marc Ellis, Neta Golan and Jeff Halper also resigned from DYR around that time. Neta’s name was not removed until 2008. As Gabriel Ash commented wryly, “The Deir Yassin Remembered board is like Hotel California, you can check in any time you like, but you can never leave).

In his 2005 letter of resignation, Jeff Halper wrote of Israel Shamir, who was invited to the Board in 2004:

‘First, he deflects the discussion from the essentials of Deir Yassin onto the supposed characteristics of the perpetrators. To cast all “Jews” as perpetrators of such heinous crimes, which is exactly how the discussion has been going for the past number of months, is racist, absolutely unacceptable – and deflects entirely from the issue of Deir Yassin itself. Just look at his response to Uri Davis: “a Jew is called upon by his religious law to do utmost damage to one who accepted Christ …” Anyone who knows Uri Davis would know that such a statement is beyond absurd, but the bigger question is: Who in the hell is “a Jew”? Paul’s comment about “Jewish Power” is also outrageous. “THE Jews” is a construct just as false, simplistic, racist (biologically so, it seems) and unacceptable as any other ethnic label used to tar all members of that group with – inevitably negative – characteristics. (I know our “fully human” psychotherapist from Australia will read into this primordial “Jewish loyalty.”)

The inane discussion that has come to characterize the DYR discourse is not even sophisticated racism; its just plain old-fashioned stupid racism. That’s enough to get me to leave.

When I hear diatribes of non-Palestinians against the Palestinian Ali Abunimah because he raises concerns over Shamir’s racism and the entire tone of the DYR discussion, a red light goes off. Has Deir Yassin been hijacked by a cult more intent on pursuing hate campaigns against the fictive “Jews” than in searching for the humanistic, universal, critical and truly relevant elements of the Deir Yassin story? Is Deir Yassin’s memory being sullied by those who claim to honor it?

The resignation of any one of the people who left DYR, Jewish or not, should be a cause of soul-searching, especially among the non-Palestinian “gatekeepers” of Deir Yassin who may be finishing off the job – massacring the memory of Deir Yassin by making it synonymous with racism and anti-Semitism. ‘

Although he was never actually on the Board, Uri Davis’s name appears there as a consultant during 2005 and is removed by 2006. Our source relays that Davis said he would accept the invitation to the Board if he could then argue for the removal of Shamir.

Our sources tell us that in 2005, the late Hanna Braun complained that McGowan had placed her name on his list of “Righteous Jews” on his DYR partner website, without her consent although she made it clear that she found the whole concept racist and offensive. McGowan also placed Braun’s memoirs on the DYR site without asking her let alone her consent.

Full blog
2012 Withdrawn blog post by Paul Eisen

In 2005, Mark Elf at Jews Sans Frontieres relates that Holocaust denier and Board Director Paul Eisen: ‘has finally come out as, or at least gone over to, supporting a full-blown neo-nazi take on Hitler and the holocaust. … Shamir seems to take the view that Jews should renounce being Jewish or forever take the rap for killing Jesus. Jazz saxophonist, Gilad Atzmon, takes the view that if you do not renounce being Jewish then you are a crypto- or under-cover zionist.

Tony Greenstein recounted in 2012: Over a decade ago, Ali Abunimah and Hussein Ibish issued a statement ‘Serious Concerns About Israel Shamir’ concerning the virulent anti-semitism of Shamir. Like Atzmon, Shamir too traded on his Israeli connections, yet his language about Jews as ‘a virus form of a human being’ set alarms bells ringing. His cause was not support of the Palestinians and anti-Zionism but anti-Semitism and holocaust denial. Yet in an e-mail to me (12th June 2005) Atzmon described Shamir as a ‘unique and advanced thinker’.

In 2011 Eisen reproduced emails to ex-board member Robert Green whose name disappeared from the Board in 2006: The Palestinian people are, above all, suffering under Jewish power and the only guy I know successfully confronting that power is Israel Shamir. Shamir’s name is no longer on the list of Board Advisors by February, 2010. Both Eisen and McGowan have applauded neo-Nazi and convicted Holocaust denier Ernst Zündel. McGowan visited Zündel in prison in Germany in 2006.

In October 2012, Eisen published an antisemitic blog post which was later removed in which he attacked the Free Gaza Movement. After becoming aware of this article, Avigail Arbananel, a director of the Board since 2004, “resigned from DYR because of Paul Eisen”. On the Board since 2007, Palestinian writer Susan Abulhawa also left at this point.

Another name which remains on the Board despite having left is Ilan Pappé. Our source informs us that in 2012 during a visit to Sydney, Pappe was asked ‘if it is the case that they are a current member or whether DYR need to update their website’ and he replied that ‘DYR needs to update their website‘.

2017 Board2016 DYR Board2015 DYR Board2014 DYR Board2013 DYR Board2012 DYR Board2011 DYR Board2010 DYR Board2009 DYR Board2008 DYR Board2007 DYR Board2006 DYR Board2005 DYR Board2004 DYR Board2003 DYR Board2002 DYR Board

Exposed thoroughly in 2012 and despite Eisen’s attack on her in his withdrawn blog post above, Greta Berlin became a DYR Board Advisor early in 2014. In 2012, Bekah Wolf commented on Berlin:

I have seen her engage, accept, and encourage anti-Semitic rhetoric, and this is incredibly damaging to the Palestine solidarity movement. What she, and this group, represents is dangerous to our movement in solidarity with Palestinians: a complete disregard for the basic principles of anti-racism and anti-bigotry most of us hold dear.

At that time, Professor As’ad Abukhalil emphasised: “Anti-Semites belong to the Zionist side, and not to our side.” Along with a declaration by leading Palestinians, the BDS movement has made a strong statement affirming its “rights-based approach and an anti-racist platform that rejects all forms of racism, including Islamophobia and anti-Semitism“. The 1 November 2014 DYR email represents a full frontal assault against human rights-based BDS, a principled Palestinian-led movement for justice which seeks to educate people away from racism, to end the human wrongs of colonialism and apartheid inflicted on Palestinians.

Toxic white supremacist ideology – including Zionism – underpins current and past colonial, imperial oppression. Palestinians require better than to have the 1948 genocide at Deir Yassin (perpetrated by Zionists and facilitated by imperial powers) hijacked as a front for DYR white supremacists, in the same manner as settler colonial Zionists appropriate and utilise the Holocaust.

OTHER LINKS

Tony Greenstein (2008): Time to say goodbye – Why does the SWP not break its links with holocaust-denier Gilad Atzmon? (contains more info and links about the DYR Board)

DYR declared a hate group (2017): “Deir Yassin Remembered, a local group famous for its weekly protests outside Temple Beth Israel in Ann Arbor, has been placed on a list of hate groups compiled by the Southern Poverty Law Center under the subcategory of Holocaust denial.”

Through a Cage Lightly … Icke is proved wrong

Sulphur crested cockatooFrom their burgeoning colonies in the outer solar system, the Zenoids inflicted a complete blockade on Earth. A fleet of these ancient feathered beings had arrived without warning six centuries ago searching for a vulnerable region to establish their arboreal colonies. With their leaders refusing on the grounds of self-defence to set clear borders, the Zenoid colonies moved closer and closer to Earth, establishing permanent lofty fortresses as they advanced. The Zenoids promised the Earthians a planet of their own only if they would renounce resistance and accept Zenoid needs for numerical superiority and security. The colonists laid claim to one planet after another.

In vain, the Earthians struggled to confront the Zenoid occupation and gain freedom to travel the universe. Whenever the Zenoids commenced their regular assaults on Earth’s meagre defences, the Earthians fired rockets toward the gravitic force field which imprisoned them and at the invading Zenoid colonies themselves. The Earth rockets’ guidance systems and payloads were primitive and pitiful compared to the powerful Zenoid arsenal which scorched the Earth in catastrophic reprisals when the Earthian rockets retaliated against Zenoid attacks. Ingeniously, the Earthians developed communication wormholes to breach the force field and now and then pleas for assistance sped across the spacenet. As soon as they were detected, the wormholes were imploded by the Zenoids with great loss of life at the tunnel entrances on Earth.

The Zenoids shook their feathers and shrugged.

Our security is sacred and Zenoid colonies have a right to defend themselves!” their leaders trumpeted, “Did not the Supreme Feathered Being promise us a solar system? we can only be safe in a solar system of our own! it is ours and we have a right to it all, this space without beings for beings without space. We shall kill and kill and kill until the Earthians submit to our domination. With our superior technology, we will acquire these savages’ planet. Their rockets are sent to kill us. It is us or them.

With nothing to lose and nowhere else to go, the Earthians did not surrender. In desperate resistance, they fired even more rockets at the expanding Zenoid fortresses, signalling to the rest of the galaxy that support was needed urgently. Yet noone came except a few dignitaries from the Full Galactic Spectrum empire who promised sincere dialogue and peace negotiations whilst affirming the empire’s unbreakable primary relationship with the Zenoids. Earth had never been admitted into the Grand Galactic Council. Year after weary year, the Zenoids proclaimed to the Council and its sponsors that any alteration to the status quo would damage their self-evident right to self-defence and security.

With its involvement conveniently blamed on Zenoid machinations or ignored, the opportunistic Spectrum Empire armed and enabled the Zenoid colonisers in return for new weapons pretested on the Earthians and a swag of promising asteroid mining leases. As usual when there were unidollars to be harvested, the Full Galactic Spectrum empire distanced itself and its own genocidal expansionist record from the Zenoid colonists’ gross being rights violations and universal war crimes, exonerating itself and its feathered friends, always insisting on the dominant right of the Zenoids for security. In neighbouring solar systems, the Empire contentedly conducted lucrative brutal interventions and development projects while horrified beings elsewhere were distracted by devastating Zenoid crimes against the Earthians.

Powerful planets with long, dastardly histories of galactic colonisation and veiled schemes of their own supported the Zenoid invaders openly. In the Grand Galactic Council, however, some decolonised members recoiled from the actions of the Zenoids, summoned their legal advisors, ejected Zenoid diplomats and refused to trade with the colonisers. Across the galaxy, while planetary elites plotted advantage and convoluted Zenoid propaganda enveloped the newspacenet, prescient beings with consciences mobilised around the call of the Earthians to boycott the Zenoid colonies, to isolate and pressure the Zenoid rulers into changing their belligerent ways, for this tactic worked before when invaders attempted planetocide and systematic oppression of hapless pre-existing inhabitants.

As pressures mounted upon them, the Zenoids decided to strike – it was time to crush the annoying Earthians completely and conquer the final frontier. A new pretext was devised whereby the Earthians would be blamed for the coming Zenoid attack. Soon the Zenoid droneships were pummelling the bright blue planet, obliterating Earthians and their homes with abandon and impunity. From the rest of the universe, the Zenoids demanded sympathy.

Do not the rockets come from this planet Earth to attack us?” they cried. “These Earthians are using Earth and themselves as a shield! have they not sworn to drive us from the Galaxy?

In the branches of their colonies, indignant Zenoids flapped luminous wings and shrieked to each other, “We must pulverise these ground dwellers, destroy their homes, power supplies, factories, food and water! They teach their children to hate us! Kill them all, or they will breed to outnumber us! did not these Earthians use rockets, tunnels and security as excuses to murder their own colonised beings several centuries ago? Let them taste their own poison.

… TBC, or not

Related Links

Icke is a proponent of a super-duper grand unified conspiracy theory

Robin D.G. Kelley : Empire State of Mind

Alicia Keys disrespects the Palestinian-led boycott “half of y’all won’t make it”

–Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, “Empire State of Mind”

In the face of creeping disfranchisement, unbridled corporate power, growing poverty, an expanding police state, 2.3 million people in cages, vigilantes and cops taking our children’s lives, a presidential policy of assassination-by-drone, global environmental disaster, attacks on reproductive rights, a war on trade unions, a tidal wave of foreclosures, and entrenched racism camouflaged beneath a post-racial myth, why do we care if Harry Belafonte and Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter have “beef”? Do social movements need Mr. Carter’s money or power or influence? Is justice a matter of charity or wealth? So what if Carter believes—as he retorted in response to Belafonte’s skewering of navel-gazing black celebrities—“my presence is charity”?

Let me say at the outset that I am not interested in spats between celebrities or on expending precious energy on conflict-resolution for the Negro one-percent. Anyone familiar with the dictionary definition of “charity” will find the statement ridiculous, just as anyone familiar with Jay-Z’s philanthropic work will wonder why he would say such a thing. He has been a high-profile giver: he and his mother started the John Carter Foundation ten years ago to help fund college-bound at-risk youth; he tossed a million dollars into the Red Cross’s coffers after Hurricane Katrina; he is a partner in the Global Citizen Tickets Initiative—the brainchild of the Global Poverty Project meant to hip pop music fans to world poverty and compel them to act (via sharing on social media, writing elected officials, donating money) while dropping big bucks on concert tickets. And there was “The Diary of Jay-Z: Water For Life,” the 2006 MTV documentary that raised awareness of Africa’s water crisis. Carter met with policy makers, advocates, and poor, water-starved families in Angola and South Africa, and committed to building 1,000 clean water pumps in Africa. Two years later, the United Nations honored his work with a special humanitarian award.

Does this mean Belafonte was wrong? Or Jay misspoke? Or that we need to place ‘Hova’s’ philanthropy and activism on a ledger against Bruce Springsteen’s, the celebrity Belafonte deemed more socially responsible? What does any of this do to advance a truly progressive agenda?

Focusing on the personal obscures what is really at stake: ideas, ideology, the nature of change, the realities of power, and the evisceration of our critical faculties under the veil of corporate celebrity culture. I use corporate here not as an epithet but as an expression of the structural dimensions of how celebrity is made and its ideological function. Celebrities endorse products; like any commodity, they have become “brands.” They may say and do very nice, uplifting, philanthropic things, but rarely do celebrities stand against the policies and ideas of neoliberalism and U. S. Empire. More often than not, they embody the ideology of neoliberalism (valuing wealth, free markets, privatization over human needs) and Empire (U.S. military and economic dominance over the world).

Words and deeds of high-profile individuals do matter, but too often we pay attention to the wrong words and the wrong deeds. Returning to Mr. Carter’s reply, it is what he says immediately after his charity line that should concern us. Applying his claim—that greatness alone is in-and-of itself a magnanimous gift—to the President, he adds: “Whether [Obama] does anything, the hope that he provides for a nation, and outside of America is enough. Just being who he is. You’re the first black president. If he speaks on any issue or anything he should be left alone.”

That Mr. Carter believes this is less important than the fact that his “brand” promotes it, and I’d venture to say that most African-Americans fundamentally accept its logic. The mere fact that Obama is the first black president, so the argument goes, should grant him immunity from criticism. The relentless attacks on Cornel West, Tavis Smiley, and others for their relentless critique of the Obama administration conform to this logic. Rather than address their specific criticisms on their own terms, detractors dismiss West and Smiley by repeating the well-worn claim that they are motivated by personal slights or potential monetary gain, blame an intransigent right-wing Congress for Obama’s worst policies (foreign and domestic), respond to criticisms with a laundry list of accomplishments, or simply assert that critics of the president are “haters,” race traitors, who fail to appreciate the historic significance of a black man in the White House.

The idea that the President transcends all worldly criticism corresponds with a different sort of “Empire State of Mind.” Empires dating back to Egypt, Rome, Ancient China and Japan have depended on an “imperial cult,” the notion that an emperor is to be worshipped as a messiah or a demigod. Even modern empires, like the U.S., often fall back on hero worship, adoration of strength and might over the rule of law and justice. This is why cops and soldiers are “heroes” and dissenters and the civil disobedient are troublemakers or enemies of the state. The cult of Obama has the added dimension of being the tale of a singular black man overcoming historic obstacles, breaking the color line and achieving the highest office in the land. Such representation masks the fact that it wasn’t his achievements but our achievements, our tireless mobilization on his behalf, the work of nameless millions who elected him to office to serve the people. We have an obligation in a democracy to hold government accountable to the rule of law (that includes international law) and to protect the interests of the whole of the people.

And what about deeds? I find it remarkable that Jay-Z’s four little words could set off global outrage, but revelations that Rocawear, the Hip Hop apparel company he co-founded with producer Damon Dash, employed sweatshop labor barely registered a blip in the black blogosphere. Ten years ago, anti-sweatshop activists revealed that Rocawear, along with Sean Combs’s “Sean John” label, contracted with Southeast Textiles International S. A. (SETISA) in Choloma, Honduras, to manufacture their very expensive clothing lines. SETISA sewers earned between 75 and 98 cents an hour, worked 11 to 12 hour shifts with no overtime, and had excessive production goals (T-shirt makers, for example, had to complete a little over 18 shirts per hour, and they could not leave until they met their quota). Talking was prohibited. Permission from a supervisor was required for bathroom breaks. Drinking water (found to be contaminated with fecal matter) was rationed. All employees were subjected to body searches, and female employees were required to take pregnancy tests. Those who attempted to unionize were fired. After refuting reports, Combs was ultimately pressured into making some improvements in factory conditions, but Carter had little to say and never issued a public apology. In 2007, Carter sold the rights to Rocawear to Iconix Brand Group for the princely sum of $204 million, while retaining his stake in the company and overseeing marketing, licensing, and product development.

If we praise celebrities for wealth accumulation, then Rocawear is an unmitigated success. Jay-Z has done what most successful entrepreneurs do in the age of neoliberalism—seized upon the massively oppressive labor conditions produced by free trade policies, the creation of U.S.-backed free trade zones, deregulation, and the weakening of international labor standards.

And why not? Capitalists want to “live life colossal.” Milton Friedman Baby! Then again, who wants to tweet that their favorite celebrity made millions off of sweated labor, thereby perpetuating global poverty? Knowing fans tend to look the other way; the vast majority of acolytes are kept blissfully ignorant by the corporate image machine.

Enter MTV and the release of “The Diary of Jay-Z: Water For Life,” following on the heels of Rocawear’s sweatshop revelations. I doubt it was a cynical ploy to defuse the controversy, mainly because for the Jay-Z consumer there was no controversy. His brand escaped pretty much unscathed. And yet, while Carter’s concern for the 1.2 billion people without access to clean water is genuine, the film’s explanation of the crisis is problematic. “Water for Life” blames civil war and the disruptions of military violence, urbanization, and poverty, and suggests that philanthropy and visionary entrepreneurs can solve the problem by providing clean water pumps and digging wells. How so many Africans became “poor” in the first place, the legacy of colonialism, not to mention water privatization, don’t really figure in the story. When asked about privatization at a U.N. press conference upon the film’s release, Carter appeared oblivious: “that’s just bureaucracy, I don’t have any expertise in that.” He didn’t know if water was being privatized, but he did notice that in the houses he visited, the families “paid fifty cents a bucket for [water].” He then went on to praise his long-time sponsor Coca-Cola for providing money for play pumps in Southern Africa (small manual merry-go-rounds that pump water as children play). At the time, Coke was targeted by protestors in India and Colombia for depleting scarce local water sources for its bottling plants, and releasing toxic waste water into the ground, damaging farm land and leaving residents with a variety of skin and stomach ailments.

To be clear, I am in no way criticizing Shawn Carter for lacking a sophisticated critique of the ravages of privatization. To expect as much is unfair, unrealistic, and beside the point. Most Americans share his view; neoliberal logic normalizing Empire and its exploitative practices is today’s common sense. However, it is the use of his brand to sell this new common sense, to promote corporate interests and obscure the real sources of inequality, that matter.

Alicia Keys – Home Wrecker?

Ironically, it has been the Alicia Keys brand–the angelic half of the Empire State duo—that has shown a particularly egregious disregard for human rights. On July 4th of this year, Keys performed in Tel Aviv, Israel, in spite of urgent pleas by Palestinian and Israeli activists, human rights advocates, and nearly 16,000 petitioners from around the world, to respect the global boycott of Israel for its illegal occupation of the West Bank and apartheid policies toward Palestinians. Personal appeals from writer Alice Walker and Archbishop Desmond Tutu did nothing to dissuade Keys or her handlers from accepting the invitation. In response, she issued the following statement: “I look forward to my first visit to Israel. Music is a universal language that is meant to unify audiences in peace and love, and that is the spirit of our show.”

The statement is as ridiculous and ingenuous as “My presence is charity.” How can music unify an audience when policies of occupation and apartheid exclude the vast majority of Palestinians? What good are homilies about love and peace in a land where Palestinians in the Occupied Territories are prohibited from even entering Israel, contained by a massive concrete wall, economically starved, and living under military occupation? Where thousands of Palestinians are locked away in Israeli prisons—including hundreds of minors convicted of throwing rocks at tanks and well-armed soldiers and settlers? Where Israel continues to build Jewish settlements in the West Bank, displacing Palestinians, demolishing their homes, uprooting their olive trees—all in violation of international law. Where, on more than one occasion, Palestinian mothers were forced to give birth on the side of the road or watch their severely ill children die in their arms for want of emergency care because they were held up at an Israeli checkpoint. Where the apartheid wall has turned a fifteen-minute walk to school into a two-hour ordeal for thousands of young children. For young Palestinians living in Israel who are not incarcerated, few could afford the $62.00 ticket to hear Keys. Nearly half of all Palestinians in Israel live in poverty. Most are legally excluded from residing in non-Arab communities based on their “social unsuitability,” attend severely underfunded schools, and are denied government employment.

The point of the non-violent global boycott, of course, is to apply economic pressure on Israel to change these policies: to end the occupation, dismantle the “apartheid” wall which violates international law; recognize the fundamental rights of all Palestinian-Arab citizens of Israel and other non-Jews for full equality, and grant the right to return, as stipulated by United Nations resolution 194. The boycott is an act of tough love to achieve justice through peaceful means. Alicia Keys’ concert, on the other hand, served to legitimize and normalize Israeli policies of violence, occupation, incarceration, segregation, and settlement. Keys and her handlers knew this, as they were inundated with materials from organizations supporting the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS)–including the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, Jewish Voice for Peace, and Boycott from Within. Activists hoped that Keys’ role as lead supporter of “Keep a Child Alive,” an NGO dedicated to helping HIV-infected children in Africa and India, would make her more sensitive to the lives of Palestinian children. The organization’s Chief Executive Officer, Peter Twyman, and co-founder Leigh Blake received pages upon pages of material documenting the daily abuses of children at the hands of the Israeli military and settlers.

Rifat Kassis of Defence for Children International Palestine, and Shatha Odeh of the Health Work Committees, submitted a powerful letter appealing to Keys to cancel, outlining in devastating detail how the occupation and Israeli policies have affected Palestinian children. They reveal that since 2003, some 8,000 Palestinian children as young as 12 have been arrested, interrogated (often without access to parents and legal counsel), and detained by the Israeli army and prosecuted in military courts—some held in solitary confinement. (With a 98% conviction rate, it is no surprise that confessions obtained by coercion are rarely thrown out by military judges.) They discuss how military checkpoints and the apartheid wall have become barriers to basic and emergency medical care. And they point out that the blockade of Gaza “is the single greatest contributor to the endemic and long-lasting poverty, deterioration of health care, infant mortality, disease, chronic malnutrition and preventable deaths of children. Palestinian children in Gaza lack access to clean water, health care and are scarred by repeated Israeli military offensives and the constant fear of impending attacks.”

Keys’s decision to perform was made not out of ignorance or an abiding love for Israel or a personal mission to jump-start the peace process. It was about getting paid. The Alicia Keys brand stood to lose financially and likely feared retaliation from pro-Zionist forces. Indeed, her decision to violate the boycott earned her kudos from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and its allies, who in turn placed a flurry of publicity pieces praising her “courage” in the face of BDS “bullies.” But as with Shawn Carter, I don’t blame Keys personally, nor do I question her humanitarian commitments. Alicia Keys is a corporate entity driven by profits and propelled by shareholders (backers and fans). Just as Jay-Z lovers ignored Rocawear’s callous use of sweated labor, Keys’s followers have quietly supported her Israel foray. The sad truth is that 16,000 signatures is nothing against the Keys-AIPAC alliance, and most Americans see Palestine through the official lens of the Israeli government and U.S. policy.

Had Keys paid a visit to Atta Muhammad Atta Sabah, the 12-year-old Palestinian boy shot by an Israeli soldier in Jalazoun refugee camp in the West Bank just six weeks prior to her concert, perhaps she might have changed her mind. She would have met a small, bright-eyed boy paralyzed from the waist down with holes in his liver, lungs, pancreas and spleen, and angry parents resigned to the reality that their son will never see justice. He was shot while attempting to retrieve his school bag. What if she had driven to Southern Israel to the Naqab desert and met a few of the 40,000 Bedouin whom the government plans to forcibly remove from their ancestral homeland to make way for Jewish settlements? And what if she decided to spend a few days in the West Bank after her Tel Aviv performance, meeting and playing for kids in Ramallah, Hebron, Nablus, Bethlehem, East Jerusalem, touring the refugee camps, listening to their stories? She might have been passing through Hebron on July 9th, the day Israeli soldiers detained five-year-old Wadi’ Maswadeh for allegedly throwing a stone at a settler’s car. When Wadi’s father, Karam, complained about the arrest and treatment of his son, he was handcuffed and blindfolded and taken, along with his terrified, crying son, to the Palestinian Authority police. They were both eventually released.

Keys never met Atta Muhammad Atta Sabah or Wadi’ Maswadeh or any of the Palestinian children growing up in a world of refugee camps, home demolitions, settler and military violence, displacement, economic deprivation, and educational policies designed to literally deny their existence. The Keys brand could ill afford to expose their star to such “negativity,” lest she walk away from the machine. But here is the real tragedy: the Keys machine was never compelled to apologize or even mildly acknowledge that something is rotten in the state of Israel.

The sad truth is that Keys’s romantic involvement with producer Swizz Beatz, apparently while he was still married, was considered infinitely more scandalous than playing Tel Aviv. Twitter and Facebook and gossip columns were abuzz with accusations that Alicia Keys is a home wrecker. By contrast, neither her fan base nor the Alicia Keys “haters” had much to say about the wrecking of Palestinian homes. (This year alone, Israel announced plans to build another 2,000+ settlement houses in the West Bank.) Equally disheartening is the Black Entertainment Television (BET) poll that 59% of its on-line readers support Keys’s decision to violate the boycott. Of course, it is likely that AIPAC operatives posing as BET on-line readers skewed the results, but not by much. Most African-Americans simply don’t know a lot about Palestine, and many devout Christians among us tend to buy the argument that defending the State of Israel is tantamount to defending the Holy Land. Few vocal critics of New York’s “stop and frisk” policy, for example, know that the Israeli military version of “stop and frisk” in the West Bank means entering Palestinian homes in the middle of the night, forcing families out of bed, photographing all the boys and young men and taking their information. These routine acts are not part of ongoing investigations or require probable cause, but an official policy of surveillance and intimidation. Such outrageous policies should have generated some 1.6 million signatures rather than 16,000.

Let me repeat: I am not arguing that Jay-Z or Alicia Keys or any corporate mega-star is personally responsible for the kind of political and ethical blinders endemic to what has become a national corporate consciousness, an Empire State of Mind. Corporate celebrities, or rather their brands, are merely the messengers. The responsibility for shedding those blinders and developing an informed, global, ethical critique of materialism, militarism, exploitation and dispossession, rests with us. The absence of a broad-based, progressive black movement has not only opened the floodgates for the spread of neoliberalism as the new common sense, but it has severely hampered the ability of too many African Americans to think critically and globally about oppression and inequality—though, to be sure, this problem is not unique to the black community. Our romance with corporate celebrity culture merely fuels a persistent belief that the black one percent are our natural allies, our role models, our hope for the future. Many of us embrace black millionaires and billionaires—the P-Diddy’s, Russell Simmons’s, Jay-Z’s, and Oprah’s of the world—as embodiments of “our” wealth, without ever questioning the source of their wealth, the limits of philanthropy, or the persistence of poverty among the remaining 99%.

In the end, the difference between, say, Harry Belafonte, Danny Glover, and Alice Walker and the Jay-Zs and Alicia Keys of the world is not generational. It is not a simple-minded division between Old School Civil Rights and the Hip Hop Generation. Before Belafonte, Glover, and Walker became “celebrities,” they were activists first. They joined social movements and risked their bodies and futures before they even had careers. And in this respect, they have more in common with Hip Hop artists/activists such as Yasiin Bey, Talib Kweli, Boots Riley, Rebel Diaz, Chuck D, Rosa Clemente, Immortal Technique, Twice Thou, Lupe Fiasco, Keny Arkana, and others. Their movement work was never about achieving wealth or success, but a commitment to fighting for a world where power rests with the people, not an oligarchy; a world where oppression, exploitation, dispossession, and caging of all people—irrespective of color, gender, nationality, sexual identity—is a thing of the past; a world where such corporate-backed philanthropy is unnecessary, and one need not buy high-priced concert tickets to fight oppression.

Robin D. G. Kelley, who teaches at UCLA, is the author of Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original (2009) and most recently Africa Speaks, America Answers: Modern Jazz in Revolutionary Times (2012).

(Republished with permission)

Related Links

Dubai: Tell Alicia Keys those who entertain apartheid Israel are not welcome!
Alicia Keys performs contentious Israel show despite opposition
Comment: Alicia Keys’ Tel Aviv gig shows her progressive politics are just skin deep
As Keys performs in Israel despite boycott, campaigners say new precedent set
African Americans Affirming the Jim Crow analogy in Palestine/Israel
YouTube removes video calling on Alicia Keys to cancel Israel concert
Defence for Children International Palestine and Health Work Committees to Alicia Keys: Cancel Israel Show
‘Girls on Fire’ tell Alicia Keys — Don’t play Apartheid Israel
Action Alert: Tell Alicia Keys to cancel her scheduled concert!
Alicia Keys, Don’t Fall for Apartheid – Cancel Your Gig in Israel!

Throw Off the White Woman’s Burden, Mona

FP coverOf all neoliberal women who claim the liberation of women as their cause, Mona Eltahawy consummately peddles imperialism under the guise of feminism.

Her recent article on Foreign Policy transports orientalism into the realms of the pornographic. The debased cover graphic of the issue in which the article appears is of a naked woman body-painted with a niqab and is well-attuned to the sly glittering generalisations in the content, where we do not read of women, but of events which happen to women. En masse, Arab women are reduced to powerless alien objects, victims of lascivious, sadistic orientals, the flip side of the romantic savage. This is the pornography of imperialism, where the natives are ritually objectified, voiceless victims to be aggregated and marketed to western voyeurs, all the better to appropriate righteously their treasures. The historical impact of the west is decontextualised and obscured – patriarchal tyrannies propped up to support exploitation of the vast riches of the Middle East, religious fundamentalism nurtured through inequality, hideous sanctions, pressures and intrigue to serve larger geopolitical goals are made secondary to the innate savagery of the oriental male and helplessness of his victim. One of the convenient, duplicitously benevolent western facades thus is assured to facilitate invasion, occupation and colonial aid as saviour to helpless women in societies which are miraculously located near areas with immense resources or with strategic import. Mona rails against the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists, although ironically both were abetted by imperialists in order to divide and rule, to assist in the ‘war against communism’ – and most importantly to ensure the riches of the region could be exploited by western capitalists.

The scapegoating and patronisation of the experience of non-western women also serves as a displacement for elite feminist class hatred of working class and poor women in western societies which cannot be expressed without losing leftist credibility. Non-western women are fair game, because racism and elitism seduces across the divide – the real war on women has no borders. Those who exploit us do hate us, and the ruling elite inculcates sexism, racism and bigotry to shore up its power. When we fight each other, we are diverted from challenging its loathsome power. And so Mona blames Arab men collectively and shifts the battle away from the cause: “Until the rage shifts from the oppressors in our presidential palaces to the oppressors on our streets and in our homes, our revolution has not even begun.” Who makes and polices laws which can end impunity for violence, which would stop “the men who can’t control themselves on the streets”, governments or individuals? why does Mona hold all Arab men responsible for the effects of rapacious western exploitation and puppets?

While western feminists focus on Islam and Arab men for the plight of Arab women, scrutiny of the predations of western imperialism and capitalism is minimised, and any potential threat from an evolution of the Islamic economic system nullified.

Here’s a collection of the best crits of Mona’s article “Why do they hate us?“:

Dear Mona Eltahawy

Despite having witnessed alliances between man and woman in the Middle East, who have often fought alongside one another, we understand that we may be oppressed beyond our own belief. That the oppression has rotted our very minds and blinded us from reality, that the men of the Middle East are nothing more than savage brutes, unable to feel anything besides hatred towards us.
Again, dearest Mona, we thank you, on bended knee, for attempting to free us from bondage. We could not have ever imagined a more noble, qualified liberator. We pray that you also deliver the following message, one which comes from the depths of our very souls, to your closest friend and ally, the white man:

We thank you, dearest white savior, for neglecting to address the ‘war on women’ in your own region, in order to watch us, the women of the Middle East, progress. Shamefully, we have not yet even begun to repay you for freeing us from bondage with your bullets and uranium tipped bombs in places such as Iraq, Yemen, Pakistan and Afghanistan. We are forever indebted.

Dima Khatib examines paternalisation and orientalism represented in imported western feminism to the Middle East. Feminism of all things is a grassroots ideology, of individual and local empowerment.

Your article paints a picture of the Arab society that matches the images of the article: black, bleak, depressing, a painted black body. You have reduced the problem of the Arab woman to the feelings of men; while the image of the Arab woman was reduced to the image that the West has of her. What you have tackled is true, and we have a long road ahead, and the revolutions have not achieved anything for women or for any one else when it comes to societal demands, and we have not yet been granted our basic rights, as women or as men. Like you, I felt a huge shock when the new Egyptian parliament was elected in front of my eyes while I was in Egypt, with women representing less than 2% of it. But the picture in your article is incomplete and gives the impression that we are all miserable, helpless female beings. Arab society is not as barbaric as you present it in the article. You actually enhance the typical stereotype in the non-Arab reader’s mind, and it is a stereotype full of overwhelming generalisations, and contributes to the widening cultural rift between our society and other societies, and the increase of racism towards us.

Mona: Why Do You Hate Us?

The fundamental problem of Mona’s essay is the context and framework of how she analyzes why women in the Middle East are oppressed and the only reason she could give is because men and Arab societies (culturally and religiously) hate women. This is offensive to most women I know, who read the article and shared the same view. Women in the Middle East are not oppressed by men out of male dominance, they are oppressed by regimes (who happened to be men in power) and systems of exploitation (which exploit based on class not gender). Having women in power in a flawed system will not “fix” the problem either. We had a women’s quota in Mubarak’s parliament, did that change anything for women in reality? It was all ink on paper. Even after revolution, women are consistently used for political grounds by crony political parties. Explaining why women are oppressed without touching on any of the historical, political, or economical aspects of Arab countries, which are not all the same as she tends to generalize in her article, couldn’t be more delusional than this piece.

Us and Them: On Helpless Women and Orientalist Imagery

The laundry list of crimes committed against women, including “virginity tests” and genital mutilation, are serious charges which should not be ignored nor should they be denied. Eltahawy, in her attempt to highlight indefensible crimes against women, reaffirms the banal archetype of the poor, helpless woman of the Middle East-North Africa.

Eltahawy pens a lugubrious tale, where women of the Middle East-North Africa seem to have been forever chained to the floors, as captives. History is conveniently left out of this verbose condensation. There is no talk the Arab women of her native Egypt who defiantly took part in the forceful, countrywide revolution against the British occupation of both Egypt and Sudan in 1919, which led to Britain’s recognition of Egyptian independence in 1922; women, men, merchants, workers, religious leaders, students et al. held unified strikes against the British occupation on a daily basis, not in separate stalls but in the company of one another.

Omid Safi: “The hypocrisy of the “Why They Hate Us” rhetoric of Muslim Native Informants”

While bashing “cultural relativism” has been a favorite target of Fox News, it has also been used by genuine human rights activists such as Shirin Ebadi who have argued against condoning gender segregation and two-tiered models of citizenship based on gender. The difference between Ebadi and Eltahawy is immense: While they have both paid a price, and both suffered through violence and harassment, only one of them, Ebadi (the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner) makes the fight not about elevating her own position, but rather about establishing and networking with human rights and women’s rights organizations that actually uplift the lives and rights of Muslim women. (In fact, Ebadi refused the distinction between women’s rights and human rights, rightly seeing women’s’ rights as human rights.) Eltahawy’s move only elevates herself by stepping on Muslim women.

The problems that Muslim women face in so many different contexts are real, and are in need of urgent remedying. My intention is not to belittle or demonize one individual author. Rather, it is to point that that the solution is through solidarity and networking with the actual real work that is being done on the ground level, not by standing on the (Western) towers of moral patronizing, and elevating one’s own position.

Sherene Seikaly and Maya Mikdashi: “Let’s Talk About Sex”:

We would suggest, as many have, that oppression is about men and women. The fate of women in the Arab world cannot be extracted from the fate of men in the Arab world, and vice versa. El Tahawy’s article conjures an elaborate battle of the sexes where men and women are on opposing teams, rather than understanding that together men and women must fight patriarchal systems in addition to exploitative practices of capitalism, authoritarianism, colonialism, liberalism, religion, and/or secularism.

The battle against misogyny does not follow a “men hate women” formula. It cannot be reduced to a generic battle of the sexes spiced with a dose of Islam and culture. It cannot be extracted from the political and economic threads that, together with patriarchy, produce the uneven terrain that men and women together navigate.

Related Links

In this skin-crawling piece, Sami Kishawi describes the abominations inflicted on Palestinian women by Israel. When will Mona speak out against these western colonial horrors perpetrated against Indigenous women?

Nawal El Saadawi: “We are all the products of our economic, social and political life and our education. Young people today are living in the era of the fundamentalist groups.”

U.S.: Muslim Brotherhood gave assurances on Egypt-Israel peace treaty

Referring to a recent on the Muslim Brotherhood member interview with Al Hayat, where he said that the treaty with Israel is not binding, Nuland said: “We’ve seen this press report. I would say that it is one member of the Muslim Brotherhood. We have? had other assurances from the party with regard to their commitment not only to universal human rights, but to the international obligations that the Government of Egypt has undertaken.”

The U.S. official added by saying that, “as we’ve said again and again, not only with regard to Egypt but with regard to other states in that region in transition, we expect that legitimate parties will not only support universal human rights, but will also continue to support international obligations made by their governments they have made commitments to us along those regards, and as I said, we will judge these parties by what they do.”

Nuland’s comments came after last month top Egyptian opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei told Iran’s Fars news agency that the United States is engaged in secret talks with Egypt’s ruling military council geared at ensuring that the country’s democratically elected regime will maintain its peace treaty with Israel.

“The negotiations were completely secret and confidential,” ElBaradei told Fars, adding that what the ruling military indicated “said was that the talks were about bilateral and mutual relations, but I believe that Americans wanted to ensure that the deals signed between Egypt and Israel will remain intact if Islamists ascend to power.”

Harvard professor Leila Ahmed in debate with Mona

Resistance and Revolution as Lived Daily Experience: An Interview with Leila Khaled

From Part 3, Leila Khaled:

My mother had opposed my and my sisters’ involvement in the ANM. I was often spanked for attending meetings at a young age. Once I went to a meeting in my nightgown because I snuck out of the house after convincing my mother that I was staying home for the night. My commander was astonished at my appearance and my colleagues were not fully accepting of me. This incident was a particular challenge because I wanted to practice my membership and be a part of that movement. It was not only political but also personal. In that meeting I was criticized for my actions. This criticism made me think critically about what was happening. I considered it a sacrifice because the other members considered my behavior to be beyond the pale of acceptability. I was very annoyed. I wondered why they did not appreciate that I was fighting against my mother. I was always against older traditions and the city was very conservative. That was a turning point in my life. I realized that I was simultaneously discriminated against in my life and in my family. I had to prove myself. Eventually, I managed to gain my mother’s acceptance. But it was only with the support of my father as he reminded her that we were all driven out irrespective of sex and so we should all work to go back regardless of our sex.

Leila Khaled and Shireen Said Interviewed by Sukant Chandan

Shireen Said:

We shouldn’t forget that the capitalist system oppresses and exploits women and takes away their human dignity. Therefore we must adhere to our values of humanity and progressive politics as well as remain united and strong in the revolutionary left as the best means to achieve our ends. This is the only path to attain freedom, equality, and social justice for us, our families, and our children.

Mona Eltahawy Speaks To J-Street, But Who Is She Speaking For?

Mona Eltahawy, Your Facts Are Wrong and We Don’t Hate Women

On Muslim-Arab issues and the Danger of Aiding the Neo-Liberal Colonialist Agenda