July 21, 2008
This selection is of the coverage from the end of the week (mainly Friday) and covers a range from today’s news of the British Prime Minister’s trip to Israel, to feature stories about the struggle for survival in Palestinian towns, to the International Crisis Group’s evaluation of the Palestinian Authority’s record in the West Bank. There are also articles covering new talk of “peace talks” sponsored by the US and an analysis of the possibility of momentum being built on the Israeli-Lebanese front, following the prisoner exchange, through a breakthrough on the Shebaa Farms territorial dispute.
But perhaps of greatest interest is the astonishingly vicious op-ed published by Benny Morris in yesterday’s New York Times. Morris goes so far as to justify an Israeli preemptive nuclear strike on Iran. The op-ed concedes Israel’s own possession of a nuclear arsenal but treats Iran’s alleged pursuit of the same as an intolerable threat to all humanity. He then goes on to build an argument on the assumption that so long as Israel initiates, the obliteration of a nation and a people in the Middle East by nuclear holocaust is justifiable and potentially legitimate. Read the rest of this entry »
March 10, 2008
Over the last few years there’s been some intermittent mainstream interest in transsexuality both in the West and in the Middle East. Although the topic was somewhat taboo in the West until relatively recently, it has been discussed quite openly in Iran for the last 25 years. The relative openess surrounding this topic in the Islamic Republic has aroused the curiosity of the Western media, and reports on transsexuality in Iran such as this article often try to come to terms with the fact gender reassignment surgery is religiously sanctioned (even encouraged) in a country where homosexuality is illegal. Is the 25 year old fatwa allowing ‘diagnosed’ transsexuals to undergo surgery a sophisticated and modern approach to a serious issue that is often not dealt with satisfactorily in even in the West, or is it simply the outcome of an inability to accept homosexuality? Read the rest of this entry »
February 21, 2008
“They Call Me Muslim” is a short film focusing on the experiences of two Muslim women, one in Paris and one in Tehran, who hold very different opinions on veiling. Samah, living in Paris, feels that the ban on headscarves in French schools forces her to choose between her religion and her education, whilst K must wear the headscarf when in public in Iran. The filmmaker, Dianna Ferrero, explains some of the issues arising from the film in this article. The overall message of the documentary is one that at times seems to be overlooked in the headscarf debate – that women are negotiating political and cultural obstacles in order to regain control over their bodies in both religious and secular contexts, and that ultimately it is the freedom to choose to veil or not veil that should be promoted.