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.  (Image: Diego Lopez Calvin)

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.

Brigadistas, Then and Now

56 One of the great joys of living in Madrid is the opportunity to attend some of the many book presentations that regularly fill up the calendar.   Last evening I attended the very moving and thought-provoking presentation of a book of poems written by brigadistas: international volunteers who came to Spain during the country's civil war (1936-39) to fight on the side of the Second Spanish Republic against the forces of fascism led by General Francisco Franco.  Hablando de leyendas: Poemas para España, originally published in English and now available in a Spanish edition from Ediciones Baile del Sol, is both a powerful work of social poetry and a timely intervention in an ongoing debate over how Spain should deal with its own traumatic past.  It is also a call to stand up against the denial, minimization, and outright suppression of the contributions made throughout the world by those courageous individuals who engage in transformative acts of international solidarity. 

Alizadeh on media misreading of the Iranian uprising

The following article is reprinted with permission.  I'm posting it here because I think the author, Ali Alizadeh, raises some very important issues regarding the ways in which the ongoing political crisis in Iran is being framed (and misunderstood) in the international media. (See also the excellent analysis at Juan Cole's blog.) You can find Alizadeh's original post here

why are the iranians dreaming again?*

[The following is a guest post from Ali Alizadeh, Researcher at the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy, Middlesex University]

Gaza news roundup

As any student of news analysis knows, the mainstream media's attention is quite easily diverted from important stories once a moment of "crisis" has passed.  The Israeli strangulation of Gaza is an ongoing story that is decades in the making and, for ordinary Gazans, an ongoing reality.  While Israel's recent full-scale military assault on Gaza has ended, the suffering of Gaza's colonized population goes on.  Here is an update on some key Gaza stories that are flying under the radar. 

Sen on India's Muslims

A recent article in Al-Ahram Weekly by a St. Lawrence University alumnus tackles the thorny issue of the intercommunal tension that continues to plague Indian society.  Somdeep Sen, who graduate from SLU in 2007 and is currently doing graduate work at Central European University in Budapest, argues that India's large Muslim minority continues to bear the brunt of the society's internal contradictions. 

Intifada goes green

One of the most underreported aspects of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza has been its detrimental impact on the environment.  Living under occupation, Palestinians are unable to engage in fully autonomous and effective development efforts.  In response to this situation, a new local NGO called Bustan Qaraaqa (the Tortoise Garden) has emerged in Beit Sahour, a town famous for its inspiring tax revolt during the first Palestinian intifada (uprising) in the late 1980s. 

David Brooks gets his hands dirty

As Americans and the world digest the horrifying Bush-era torture memos that were released yesterday by the Obama administration, it is easy to pretend that the torture policy was simply the product of rogue elements within the US government.  Such a view conveniently allows Americans to express their shock - shock! - at the war crimes (as Gil Scott-Heron once joked, "America leads the world in shock!") while ignoring the ways in which the nation's collective response to 9/11 paved the way for those very crimes.  A case in point is New York Times conservative columnist David Brooks, most recently seen waxing lyrical about the "loud and promised land" called Israel.  Given Brooks' ability to separate "Israel" (read: his idealized image of Israel, sanitized of its past and current Arab presence) from the actions of the Israeli state, it is not surprising to find that he once led the cheers - in advance - for the kind of barbarity we saw at Abu Ghraib

Interweaving: Ronnie Olesker on the Israeli elections

22 Dr. Ronnie OleskerI recently interviewed Dr. Ronnie Olesker about the results of the national elections held in Israel and their implications both for the future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and for US policy in the region.  Dr. Olesker is an Assistant Professor of Government at St. Lawrence University and has done extensive research on Israeli politics and majority-minority relations in Israel.  On March 30 she will deliver a lecture titled "One Land - Three Peoples? Future Prospects for Jewish-Arab-Palestinian Relations in Israel" as part of St. Lawrence's Contemporary Issues Forum.