September 24, 2009
The Save Darfur Coalition continues to view the war in Darfur from a narrow Arab v African perspective and as a result fails to really grasp the complexities of the situation. Animated by ideology, Christian zeal or a sense of humanitarianism, most of the people associated with the Save Darfur Coalition have simply placed the crisis within the optic of the anti-Arabism and Islamophobia that gripped the US after 9/11. What they have failed to grasp most of all is that the victims of the Darfur crisis are 1. Muslims themselves; 2. have seen themselves as Arabized and a part of the wider Arab world for some centuries and following from this point; 3. see themselves as Sudanese. Since America is permeated by the politics of race and by racism, the American Save the Darfur Coalition cannot understand a conflict between putative Arabs and Africans without the war being about being Arab or African.
So, if the war is not about being Arab or African, what is it about? This is a complex question and a question partially answered by studies such as Flint and De Waal (2007), Daly (2007) and Mamdani (2009). While these studies allude to the problem of the Sudan’s failed politics and failing state, none of them go far enough in laying the balance of the blame for events in Darfur on the incapacity of the Sudanese state and the problems that accrue from a state that is ineffective and from a government that is unable to act except in the interests of a narrow ruling elite. Sudan’s economic crisis began with independence and became even worse after the global recession of the 1970s. By the 1980s, Sudan was a major defaulter of loan repayments and was only propped up by the US and the IMF because of its strategic importance in fighting communism in Africa. With the end of the cold war and the rise of an anti-US Islamist government in the 1990s, Sudan’s economic crisis worsened and Sudan was, and remains, the only country expelled from the IMF for non-compliance. In the 1990s, the Sudan was a basket-case and the state fell into complete ruin. The result of this was that the people of Darfur received very little from the Sudanese government and in 2003 rebelled in the hope of securing access to some state resources and funds. The rebellion turned into a civil war and the civil war turned into a humanitarian crisis.
So, from this brief outline it is clear that the best way to deal with the crisis in the Sudan is to assist in rebuilding the capacity of the Sudanese state, especially in Darfur where access to medical care, education and employment are urgently required. This would require the assistance of international financial institutions and the members of the G8/G20. What then does the Save Darfur Coalition recommend for ending the crisis in Darfur?
“Save Darfur Coalition Asks G-20 Not to Forgive Sudan’s Debt”
Who would benefit from such a move? The people of Darfur or International creditors and the IMF? We all want the crisis in Darfur to come to an end and for people to be able to return to their homes and to be able to start to rebuild their lives. The most effective way to achieve this is by investing in a strong and stable Sudanese state that can provide its population with employment, education, health care and security. The Save Darfur Coalition and other organisations of similar ilk have missed the point all together on Darfur, and cannot come to terms with the reality that the best way of resolving the crisis is by rebuilding Sudan and not by punishing the Sudanese which only end up punishing the people of Darfur because after all Darfur is a part of the Sudan. Until Save Darfur see this basic fact they will never really understand what the crisis in Darfur is truly about or how to resolve it.
September 21, 2009
I’m going to ask our library to order a copy of this DVD:
Iraqi Women Speak Out
Producers: Brian Drolet
In March 2006, Code Pink invited eight Iraqi women to the U.S. to speak about their experiences under U.S. invasion and occupation. Two of the women had their entire families killed by U.S. troops. They were denied visas on the grounds they did not have sufficient family to guarantee they would return to Iraq.
See http://deepdishtv.org/ProgramDetail/Default.aspx?id=3262 for more details about the documentary.
September 14, 2009
Michael Innes is the man behind the Complex Terrain Laboratory (www.terraplexic.org), and he’s just launched his own personal blog, Monkwire (monkwire.com). Check it out.
August 19, 2009
From Zizek: Why and how settlements are a long-term obstruction to peace.
“When peace-loving Israeli liberals present their conflict with Palestinians in neutral, symmetrical terms – admitting that there are extremists on both sides who reject peace – one should ask a simple question: what goes on in the Middle East when nothing is happening there at the direct politico-military level (ie, when there are no tensions, attacks or negotiations)? What goes on is the slow work of taking the land from the Palestinians on the West Bank: the gradual strangling of the Palestinian economy, the parcelling up of their land, the building of new settlements, the pressure on Palestinian farmers to make them abandon their land (which goes from crop-burning and religious desecration to targeted killings) – all this supported by a Kafkaesque network of legal regulations”.
Read the rest of the article here.
“Quiet slicing of the West Bank makes abstract prayers for peace obscene”
July 22, 2009
Whilst the following news story (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jul/21/henry-louis-gates-jr-arrest-harvard) is not directly related to the Middle East I have decided to post it anyway because of a recent debate about racism and as it provides a convenient excuse to revisit the topic on this site. What this short news story suggests is that even though institutional and legally enforced racism is less pervasive today than in previous eras where the slave trade and European colonialism produced racist doctrines premised on the superiority of the white race, there is still a resilience to racial stereotyping and more subtle forms of racism in the US, at least. I would argue that subtle and insidious forms of racism remain pervasive in the modern world more widely than just in the US . The harsh reality is that racism is as pervasive internationally as it was a century or so ago when W.E.B. Du Bois suggested that the issue of race relations would be a defining motif of the twentieth century. The events of the twentieth century have shown us how prescient Du Bois was and how relevant his comments remain as we enter into a new millennium. Today, racial differences (ethnic and religious differences as well) continue to shape the world we live in.
Read the rest of this entry »
July 20, 2009
The Jerusalem Post reports on an astonishing decision closing off yet another non-violent effort to exert pressure on Israel to end its brutal and illegal occupation of Palestine. Excerpt and link to original news report below. I wonder when we can expect the North Korean, Iranian, Zimbabwean and Sudanese challenges to boycotts on the grounds that they are discriminatory?
Despite its long history of supporting Israel in defiance of multiple U.N. resolutions, somehow I can’t imagine that a ruling like this, which declares that it is neither illegal nor a violation of one’s freedom of expression for France to fine someone from calling for a boycott of Israeli goods, could ever be passed in the U.S., where freedom of expression is so central to the American political imagination — or at least it was during the Cold War, when freedom of expression was said to be what fundamentally distinguished America from the Soviet Union.
Jerusalem Post Jul 20, 2009
European court: Israel boycotts are unlawful discrimination
By HERB KEINON
Israel finally won one last week in an international human rights court. On Thursday, the Council of Europe’s European Court of Human Rights upheld a French ruling that it was illegal and discriminatory to boycott Israeli goods, and that making it illegal to call for a boycott of Israeli goods did not constitute a violation of one’s freedom of expression.
The Council of Europe is based in Strasbourg, has some 47 member states and is independent of the European Union. The court is made up of one judge from each member state, and the rulings of the court carry moral weight throughout Europe.
On Thursday the court ruled by a vote of 6-1 that the French court did not violate the freedom of expression of the Communist mayor of the small French town of Seclin, Jean-Claude Fernand Willem, who in October 2002 announced at a town hall meeting that he intended to call on the municipality to boycott Israeli products. …
June 18, 2009
Below is an excerpt from commentary by Joharah Baker on the recent scandal over Israeli Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch’s calling a Palestinian-Israeli policeman a “real dirty Arab.” The full article can be read at Miftah.
We ‘dirty Arabs’ have had enough
by Joharah Baker
17 June 2009
What unwritten law is out there that allows Israelis to sling racist insults at Palestinians with impunity? After all my years in this country and the absurdities that come along with it, this is one absurdity I still find hard to digest.
Obviously, my outrage has been most recently rekindled by Israeli Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, who during a tour of the old central bus station in Tel Aviv called a Palestinian-Israeli policeman a “real dirty Arab.” Once the words were out, the minister was forced to apologize, saying his remarks did not reflect his worldview. A spokesman for the ministry also issued a statement saying that, “in a moment of jest, and using common slang, the minister said what he said, not intending to hurt anyone.”
If this were an isolated incident or if it were not an Israeli right-wing minister who said it, we might, just might, be inclined to believe this sorry excuse for an explanation. But in Israel’s history with the Palestinians, this can hardly be considered slip-of-the-tongue. Instead, such slurs are embedded in a historically-rooted relationship between Israeli Jews and their perceived Palestinian-Arab subordinates, a relationship that is so lopsided it allows room for those who wish to be verbally abusive against Palestinians to thrive….