Ways to speak out against the Gaza massacre

December 30, 2008

I’ve been shamefully silent in the past few days — not because I was so busy with holiday celebrations, but because I don’t have babysitters for my children over the holidays and so not much time to do anything except clean up after them. But I’m sure that we have all been following the tragic news of the massacre in Gaza. According to several media sources, more than 350 Palestinians have been killed and 1650 injured by Israeli military action in the past few days, including many civilians (the numbers are disputed), while 2 Israelis (one an Israeli Arab) have been killed by Hamas rocket fire in Ashkelon and Ashdod, and 2 injured.

It is particularly poignant at this time of year, when many people are celebrating their religious holidays or their rituals of conspicuous consumption, that the population of Gaza, which was already in dire humanitarian straits, is mourning at funeral after funeral, as Israeli forces target the offices of the democratically elected Hamas leadership. But this last fact is rarely mentioned in the international coverage of the massacre, which according to the New York Times is the worst toll of human life in Gaza since 1967. Instead, we get sound bytes from the well-groomed Tzipi Livni about how this military action will “change realities on the ground.” Yet any disinterested observer watching how media in the Arab world is covering the attack on Gaza would surely conclude that the only sure political “reality” emerging from this ill-conceived military strike is that it is mobilizing support for Hamas across the Arab world and elsewhere.

As the Arab-American Institute points out in a statement condemning the attack,

Should the White House once again fail to act to restrain Israel and to provide real leadership in the search for peace, this tragedy will continue to grow: Palestinian suffering and bitterness will deepen, Israelis will remain insecure, and extremism will be further fueled by anti-American anger.

The bottom line, here, is that, while the stupidity of Hamas’ reckless behavior cannot be excused because of the continued danger such ill-considered actions pose to the security and well-being of its own constituents, there can be no justification for Israel’s massive and brutal assault. Read the rest of this entry »

Panties from the Axis of Evil and other holiday gift ideas

December 22, 2008

It’s been a busy time of year, with the holidays upon us, so we haven’t been as lively as usual here at Khaldoun.  I thought I’d provide a few links to some interesting little tidbits:

– Review of a book that showcases playful Syrian lingerie: “Panties from the ‘Axis of Evil’

– In Haaretz, Akiva Eldar interviews Rashid Khalidi on a number of important political issues, including the Palestinian leadership, US foreign policy towards Israel/Palestine over the last 8 years of Bush, Israeli intellectuals, the two-state solution, and the next US administration

– Since Eid has just passed, Hanukkah started last night, and Christmas is coming in just a few days, it is a season of family, food, spiritual reflection, and shopping.  Here are a few places where you can find gifts:

  • The Sydney Jewish Museum has beautiful gifts, but you have to go into the museum to buy, they don’t have them on mail order.
  • If it’s online Judaica-themed shopping you want, or just a really flash challah cover, try Odem.
  • The Glasgow Palestine Human Rights Campaign offers some fabulous gifts by mail order, from football/soccer jerseys in the colors of the Palestinian flag to beaded flag wristbands.
  • For stocking stuffers, I’ve been shopping at Oxfam’s fair trade shops, but if you’re looking for their delicious chocolate covered Brazil nuts, I’m afraid I’ve bought (and eaten — so much for stocking stuffers) all of the stock at the Macquarie Centre store!
  • And finally, since we started this post with Syrian lingerie, here you can buy Fitnah lingerie online (but it looks like they are catering to wholesale buyers).

Happy Eid, happy Hannukah, and merry/happy (depending on whether you speak Commonwealth or American) Christmas everyone.  Peace on Earth!
— L.L. Wynn

Racism: Arab-Black African Relations in North Africa

December 14, 2008

Dear Readers,

By now I am sure you are aware of my position on racism. In previous posts I have rallied against the Israeli state and certain segments of Israeli civil society for institutionalizing racism as a form of power over Palestinians and as a political mechanism to control national political discourse. I also have written and spoken about the scourge and legacy of colonial racism. My last post highlighted the twin forms of discrimination faced by Australian man Hussein Mumin who was both homeless and Black. I remember only too vividly how Andrew Fraser was able to gain momentary notoriety and fame (amongst a small but vocal segment of the population) for his obscene references to Black Africans- especially the Sudanese- as inferior humans, an argument he based on long discredited scientific evidence popular with Hitler and a central part of Nazi and Neo-Nazi propaganda. Before the Nazi’s, Fraser’s “science” was used by pro-slavery groups in the United States in the nineteenth century. Government silence on the issue was disquieting but even more troubling was the defence of Fraser’s right to free speech, by none other than the Minister for Education at the time, Dr Brendan Nelson. His colleague, former Federal Minister for Immigration in the last Howard government, Kevin Andrews, did not go quite as far as Fraser in his demonization of the Sudanese communities in Australia in 2007,  but skirted the edge of overt racism with his comments. The 2005 Cronulla riots, the recent bombings of Asian properties in WA and this weeks news on the anti-Semitic facebook scandal demonstrate the existence of racist attitudes in contemporary Australia. Racism remains a major issue for contemporary societies and the election of Barak Obama, while promising , should not deflect us from the reality of the continuing problems associated with racism throughout the world.

But in this post I want to focus not on Australia but on the recent racist trends in the North African context. Read the rest of this entry »

Call for papers: Khamasin

December 1, 2008

I was asked to post this call for papers from an online journal based at American University in Cairo.  As an AUC alumna, I was pleased to spread the news.

— L.L. Wynn

Khamasin Journal, Spring ‘09: Call for Submissions

Khamasin, the online journal of the American University in Cairo’s Political Science Department, invites students, faculty and members of the AUC community and beyond to submit papers for consideration to the Spring 2009 edition of the journal. All topics are welcome from the Social Sciences and the Humanities. Read the rest of this entry »