Global Palestine: Contemporary Collisions

John Collins (@djleftover), author of Global Palestine (Hurst/Oxford UP, 2011), explores the global politics of violence and the representation of violence, paying particular attention to the microcosmic and prophetic location of Palestine in relation to these processes.

Jon Stewart and Palestine - one step forward, one step sideways

This week on the perpetually interesting and funny Daily Show with Jon Stewart, we witnessed a significant event that illustrated how the public discourse on Palestine is changing, slowly but surely.  Stewart hosted Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, a prominent Palestinian democracy activist, and Anna Baltzer, an American Jewish activist and author who has advocated openly for Palestinian rights.  The two have been working together to promote a nonviolent approach to the struggle for justice in Israel/Palestine.  Such an appearance would have been almost unimaginable on a major cable program even a few years ago! 

At the same time, the interview also revealed the extent to which we are still struggling to overcome the weight of a deeply flawed set of assumptions about what is happening in Israel/Palestine.  (For more on this, see my recent post on the misleading language of "the Israeli-Palestinian conflict").  While Stewart was engaged, respectful, interested, and (of course) funny, he was also unable to hear fully what Barghouti and Baltzer were saying. 

There is no 'conflict' in Israel/Palestine

Israel/Palestine.  Everyone knows it's one of the world's perpetual "hotspots," a place of seemingly endless violence carried out by the Israeli state and, to a lesser but still significant extent, Palestinians seeking to rid themselves of Israeli domination.  Over the years, this deadly dance has come to be known, almost universally, as "the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."  Most journalists, scholars, government officials, and other observers who speak and write about the situation tend to use this phrase reflexively, without even thinking about it.  The phrase has even received the all-important Wikipedia seal of approval.  And why not?  Isn't it an accurate label?  Actually, no.  Far from being a common-sense way to describe what is happening in Israel/Palestine, the phrase "Israeli-Palestinian conflict" is inaccurate and misleading.  Why?  Because what is happening in Israel/Palestine is not a "conflict."

Ehud Olmert gets the blues in Chicago

55 Ehud OlmertThe cracks in the Israeli state's formidable ideological edifice are beginning to crumble in the face of growing pressure from determined and media-savvy international activists.  A case in point: the reception given to former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert recently at a lecture in Chicago.  Olmert, the architect of Israel's 2006 war in Lebanon and its December 2008 assault on Gaza, faced a storm of protesters who repeatedly called attention to the human cost of his government's policies.  A video of the event prepared and posted by Electronic Intifada has "gone viral" in recent days.  Watch it here:

Interweaving: Andrea Teti on the 'Darker Turn' in Italian Politics

26 As the scandals of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi continue to dominate news out of Italy, I recently got some valuable perspective from Andrea Teti (left), Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Aberdeen (Scotland).  A native of Naples, Italy, he has a longstanding interest in both Italian and Egyptian politics.  His current research focuses on Western democracy promotion in the Middle East and on Foucault's analytics of power.  He received his MA (Hons.) and PhD from the University of St. Andrews

Evo Morales speaks in Madrid

27 You know you are not in the United States any more when, in the span of less than a week, your city plays host to both Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales.  Both leaders have played key roles in a recent wave of political change in Latin America that has been pushing, sometimes quietly and sometimes not so quietly, against the long and continuing tradition of U.S. imperialism in the region. Yesterday I had the privilege of hearing Morales, Bolivia's charismatic indigenous president, speak to a packed house at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid.  In a brief but inspiring speech delivered at the university's Faculty of Political Science and Sociology, Morales gave ample evidence of why he has been such a powerful and inspiring voice on the global stage in recent years. 

Israel and the BDS Movement 3 - The Backlash

Having already cleared the ground and covered the basics of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, I had planned to continue by addressing some of the early successes of this growing activist campaign.  But the case of Prof. Neve Gordon comes first because it represents the latest chapter in what is, not surprisingly, a growing backlash against individuals who speak out publicly in favor of BDS.

Israel and the BDS Movement 2 - An Overview of the Movement

In the first post of this series, I introduced the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and addressed some of the perceptions that often lead people to dismiss either the legitimacy of the movement or its prospects for success.  In this second installment, I will offer a basic overview and analysis of the BDS movement itself: its origins, philosophy, membership, and strategies. 

Interweaving: Sasha Tedeschi on Islam in Russia

23 Sasha TedeschiSasha Tedeschi graduated from St. Lawrence University in 2007 with a double major in History and Global Studies.  He is currently doing research sponsored by the Fulbright Program in Russia.  I recently had the chance to interview him about a range of issues related to the public role of Islam in Russia. 

Israel and the BDS Movement 1 - Clearing the Ground

Whenever I tell someone about the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that has arisen in recent years as a response to Israel's continuing colonization of Palestinian territory, the response is usually a skeptical one.  There seems to be an some sort of deeply conditioned reflex that leads people to want to dismiss the movement and its chances for achieving anything.  Despite the significant efforts of BDS activists to get the word out and educate the public, there is clearly a need for more work in order for the movement to gain legitimacy.  To this end, I will be writing a number of posts on issues surrounding the BDS movement, beginning with the question of why there is so much skepticism about it. 

Spanish Media Bull

Tomorrow, July 7, will mark the first day of one of Spain's most iconic rituals, known here as los San Fermines.  Each year the city of Pamplona hosts a week-long festival whose highlight is the "Running of the Bulls," a series of dramatic, frenetic events in which a group of bulls are released into the city to be chased by thousands of adventure-seekers, Spaniards and non-Spaniards alike.  As any guidebook will tell you, Ernest Hemingway was famously attracted to this ritual, describing it at length in his novel The Sun Also Rises.  Like so many such cultural forms, however, the San Fermines have now become commercialized media spectacles - and objects of political protest.