June 4, 2008
There’s a brief but poignant article on Associated Press about an Egyptian blogger who was arrested after the 6 April protests and only just released after being tortured in detention.
“We were subjected to electric shocks, to beatings and there was no food and or drink for the first few days,” blogger Karim el-Beheiri told AFP a day after his release. “We went through weeks of torture and humiliation.” …
These little lines in the article give us a moment of insight into the psychological effect of torture on the blogger:
He said the first thing he wanted to do when he got home after the release was to blog the events.
“But I couldn’t remember my own password.”
May 5, 2008
“We’re not celebrating Israel’s anniversary”
The letter linked to above (full text at the end of this posting) appeared in The Guardian‘s letters section on 30 April. It’s notable that all signatories are Jewish activists. It made me think about how credibility is conferred (or not) on one’s ideological and theoretical positions by virtue of one’s ethnic, religious, national or sexual identity. For example, remember when a few weeks ago Khaldoun experienced some racist comments posted to the blog that provoked a rethinking of our comments policy? One of the comments that we decided not to publish claimed that our blog postings and positions were transparently the thinking of “Arab Moslems.” This comically points to the fallacies of simplistic reasoning about the relationship between identity and theory, since most of Khaldoun’s contributors are not Muslim and only a couple of us are Arab. But it is a reminder that people do make those links, and that knowledge or assumptions about an author’s identity influences how people read her or his theories. In the case of this Guardian letter, the authors clearly decided that their position on Israel’s 60th anniversary would be strengthened by pointing out to readers that they were Jewish.
I had reason to think about the links between ideological credibility and identity recently when I was in Cairo. Read the rest of this entry »
January 28, 2008
After the wall separating Gaza from Egypt was blown up in several places last Wednesday and thousands of Gazans poured into Egypt to stock up on the basic commodities they have been denied by the Israeli blockade, most of the news coverage is reporting on the awkward Egyptian attempts to close the border. The New York Times coverage features a photo essay showing attempts to lift a cow, a camel, and a motorcycle over the border wall. As though to further insinuate the absurd and frivolous nature of the exchange across the border, the Times refers to it as a “shopping spree.” The NY Times article also says that with an estimated 200,000 Gazans entering Egypt, “the trade is becoming increasingly commercial.”
It’s hard to know what to make of such phrasing; it seems to hint that Gazans are just budding entrepreneurs and pleasure-seeking tourists — not at all victims of an Israeli blockade that has cut electricity and prevented basic food and medical supplies from reaching Gazans. Indeed, it is not until the end of the NY Times article that you even hear any information about the effect of the recent blockage, and even then, all it says is that “Israel decided to cut off shipments into Gaza, including fuel for the local power plant, in response to rocket attacks from Gaza.”
As ever, what is interesting to contemplate is what the NY Times does NOT say: that as of Sunday, electricity from the Gaza power plant has been cut in the dead of winter, and that the wall breach was prompted by an Israeli decision to completely block humanitarian shipments of medicine and basic food supplies. Read the rest of this entry »