“They eyes of the world are on Côte d’Ivoire,” President Obama says in a video message to the people if Ivory coast posted on the White House website on March 25. “You deserve a future of hope, not fear.” The…
Eyal Press surveys opinion among the youth in Israel:
[Y]oung Arabs, who are often portrayed in the Israeli press as implacably hostile to the country’s ideals, support principles such as “mutual respect between all sectors” in higher proportions than their Jewish counterparts (84 versus 75 percent). …
“Maybe it’s not a surprise that the minority in any country is very supportive of democratic rights,” says [public opinion analyst] Dahlia Scheindlin. “But it does seem ironic that in the Jewish State, which insists on defining itself as the Jewish democratic state and the only democracy in the Middle East, the Arabs are our most democratic citizens.”
(Photo: A Palestinian boy rides past the Hamas Prime minister Ismail Haniya's destroyed office in Gaza City, on March 25, 2011, as Israeli aircraft attacked four targets in the Gaza Strip during the night, lightly wounding three people, in response to Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel. By Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images)
Israel's headlong descent into extremism was not helped these past few weeks by a hideous, ghastly murder of a settler family occupying the West Bank, more missiles from Gaza and a bomb in Jerusalem after many years of relative calm there. Nonetheless, the growing backlash seems almost designed to facilitate even more embitterment among Palestinians in Israel and in their occupied country:
The new law allows the Finance Ministry to remove funds from municipalities or groups if they commemorate Independence Day here as a day of mourning or reject Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. The original bill, which produced much alarm and was altered, would have imposed prison sentences.
The second new law that has drawn criticism from the left establishes admissions committees for small communities in the Negev and Galilee, areas with large Arab populations. The new law says that communities with 400 or fewer families may set up committees to screen potential residents for whether they fit in socially. At the last minute, a rider was added barring discrimination based on race, gender or nationality, but critics contend it will still serve to keep Arabs out of Jewish communities.
These neo-fascist laws have been promoted by the fanatic, Danny Danon, who, naturally escorted Sarah Palin around Israel.
I saw Julian Schnabel’s film “Miral” a few months ago at a private screening but did not write about it at the time. The film had been billed to me as a “game changer” that would finally present a sympathetic portrayal of the Palestinian struggle, but I was not very excited or impressed by what I saw. Considering how jaded I have become about potential “game changers” (why hasn’t the game changed yet?) and how many films I have seen about and by Palestinians, I might not be the best person to evaluate the film as a vehicle for educating the American public. After spending nearly two months reflecting on the Miral, I concluded that despite its many flaws, it represents a valuable and timely contribution.
Miral’s plot focuses on Hind Husseini, daughter of Palestinian aristocracy and founder of the Dar El-Tifel orphanage, which originally housed the children of the victims of the Deir Yassin massacre. Thus Schnabel depicts the Nakba, a first in a major American film, however, he does it with minimal context and explanation. Why did Israel evict 750,000 Palestinian Arabs from their homes and their land? The answer explains the roots of the conflict, yet the history remains unknown to most in the West.
Next, viewers are introduced to Miral, whose mother was so traumatized by the events of 1948 and by the sexual abuse visited on her by her father that she committed suicide. Miral’s character, played in mediocre fashion by Frieda Pinto, who could not seem to drop her Hindi accent (her performance reminded me of Kevin Costner’s Midwestern-accented Robin Hood), is based on Rula Jebreal, the author of the novel “Miral.” As the wife of Schnabel, Jebreal apparently convinced him to turn her book into a film. As in the movie, Rula was sent by her widowed father to live and study at Dar El-Tifel. There she was trained along with dozens of girls (including the writer Susan Abulhawa) to be the cream of the Palestinian crop, and to educate the left-behinds in the refugee camps.
Having moved through the Nakba and the occupation of Jerusalem in 1967 — and there viewers see a rare acknowledgment of Palestinian terrorism as a form of resistance carried out in the grand tradition of anti-colonial revolutions — the film culminates with the War of the Stones, known in the West as the First Intifada. “Intifada means stand up straight,” Miral tells one of her classmates as riots spread from Gaza to the West Bank. I thought this line was a touch corny, but then again, when has a mass Western audience seen the Intifada depicted as anything other than a Jew-hating terror fest?
It is during this section that Schabel shows his strengths. Though he tends to sacrifice narrative depth for powerful imagery (”Basquiat” felt like a two hour long music video), Schnabel’s fixation on aesthetics resulted in Miral’s most subversive scenes. As Miral becomes increasingly involved with PLO activists, she is immediately swept up by thrasher of the Israeli occupation. Schnabel unflinchingly depicts her torture at the hands of a Amazon-like female Shabak agent, something that has happened to hundreds if not thousands of young Palestinian women in Israeli prisons. And he recreates scenes of Israeli home demolition that were so true to life I had flashbacks to Al-Arakib, where I watched Israeli bulldozers level an entire village while a phalanx of soldiers forced its Bedouin residents away from their crumbling homes.
The brief but vivid depictions of common Israelis prompted flashbacks of daily life in Israel, from the pinched lipped Jewish redneck on the Jerusalem city bus who blurts out racial slurs at the nearest available Arab; to the smug Israeli general who corrects Miral when she identifies herself as Palestinian, informing her that she is in fact an “Israeli Arab;” to the free spirited Tel Avivian youths who are more than happy to party with an attractive Palestinian girl like Miral — and who pat themselves on the back for doing so — but would do nothing to help her struggle for their liberation. During the time I spent inside Israel, I met all of these characters again and again.
Unfortunately, for all of Miral’s strengths, the film completely collapses in its final minutes as viewers are introduced to Oslo Accords. Schnabel presents the US-brokered effort as a sincere attempt at peace and not the Trojan Horse for permanent occupation that Israel’s subsequent actions exposed it to be. It is disappointing that Schnabel chose to portray the peace process as some sort of panacea, with Yitzhak Rabin appearing on screen before cheering throngs to declare that “we are making peace,” when it has only enabled Israel to deepen its occupation and create more facts on the ground with the stamp of Western approval. Anyone who has taken a cursory glance at the Palestine Papers is well aware that the peace process is a sham. I know American moviegoers yearn for moral clarity and golden sunsets, but Schnabel should have avoided propagandizing in favor of a discredited political process — or any “solution,” for that matter. The stories he and Jebreal presented of Palestinian women living under occupation and apartheid were powerful enough on their own.
If you haven't seen this video of the tsunami approaching from the street-level, you haven't quite yet absorbed the terrifying power of this death machine. When the buildings start moving off their foundations and sail through the city streets, it is hard not to gasp. I wish I could be more eloquent, but sometimes words fail.
As we noted last week, Internet service has been shut down in Libya, but the implementation is quite different from the Internet blackout put in place by Hosni Mubarak’s regime last month. Rather than cutting off traffic at the router level, the Libyan authorities are diverting traffic going through the country’s Internet. James Cowie of Renesys discusses why this strategy is actually far more sophisticated:
[T]he Libyan Internet is actually still alive, even
though almost all traffic is blocked from traversing it. The BGP routes
to Libya are still intact, which means that the Libyan ISP’s border
routers are powered on and the fiberoptics are lit. In fact, we’ve
identified a handful of isolated live IP addresses inside Libya,
responding to ping and traceroute, and presumably passing traffic just
fine. Someone in Libya is still watching YouTube, even though the rest
of the country is dark.
Why did Libya put its Internet in ‘warm standby mode’ instead of
just taking it down, as Egypt did? Perhaps because they’re learning
from Mubarak’s experience. Cutting off the Internet at the routing
level (powering down the Internet exchange point, going after the
remaining providers with secret police to enact a low-level shutdown)
was a technically unsophisticated desperation move on Egypt’s part. It
signalled to the world that the Egyptian government considered itself
out of options, ready to cut off internal communications and external
dialogue, looking for a last chance to turn off all the cameras and
clean out the Square.[...]
Throttling the Internet to the point of uselessness, instead of
killing it outright, also delayed International recognition of the fact
that the Internet was down during the most critical period. Most
international media didn’t clue into the fact that the Libyan Internet
had gone silent until after the sun had gone down in Tripoli on Friday.
By taking a softer route to shutdown, the government deprived the
opposition of much of the international "flash crowd" of attention and
outrage that an unambiguous "kill switch" tactic might have garnered.
In a 2009 piece — "The Autocrats’ Learning Curve" - Jeffrey Wasserstrom discussed how the Chinese Communist Party had adapted and ultimately benefited from observing the Eastern European anticommunist revolutions. During the current wave of revolutions, social networking technologies have, as promised, boosted the speed and global reach of antiauthoritarian activists. But as we’re increasingly seeing, the autocrats are adapting faster as well.
Robert Mugabe is apparently worried that the uprisings in the Arab world could give his own people ideas:
JOHANNESBURG — Dozens of students, trade unionists and political activists who gathered to watch Al Jazeera and BBC news reports on the uprisings that brought down autocrats in Tunisia and Egypt have been arrested on suspicion of plotting to oust President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.
James Sabau, a spokesman for the police force, which is part of the security services controlled by Mr. Mugabe’s party, was quoted in Monday’s state-controlled newspaper as saying that the 46 people in custody were accused of participating in an illegal political meeting where they watched videos “as a way of motivating them to subvert a constitutionally elected government.”
The evidence seized by the police included a video projector, two DVD discs and a laptop.
Lawyers for the men and women in custody said they had not yet been formally charged but had been advised that they might be accused of “attempting to overthrow the government by unconstitutional means,” a crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
Mr. Mugabe, who turned 87 on Monday, and his party ruled Zimbabwe single-handedly from 1980 until 2009, when regional leaders pressured him into forming a power-sharing government with his longtime political rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, after a discredited 2008 election. Mr. Tsvangirai withdrew from a June runoff that year to protest state-sponsored beatings of thousands of his supporters. An estimated 350 people died in the violence.
“The illegal meeting’s agenda, Inspector Sabau said, was ‘Revolt in Egypt and Tunisia: What lessons can be learnt by Zimbabwe and Africa?’ ” the state-controlled Herald reported.
Several lessons I would think.
As the unions staged their productions in Madison this week, shutting down school systems (for the children!) and seeking to intimidate Governor Walker et al., many of us turned to Patrick McIlheran’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel column to understand what was happening.
This morning McIlheran returns with a timely history lesson on FDR’s opposition to public sector unions. McIlheran explains: “Walker, good Republican, is no FDR but he is offering Wisconsin a new deal, lower-case. Wisconsin’s been a seedbed of bad ideas since it hatched Progressivism, and for years it’s stuck with unionized government even as the price swelled.”
I called McIlheran this week to ask him how to follow events in Madison. I caught him on a busy day and he may have left out a few observers whom he would have included on further reflection, but he provided a good list. In light of the events scheduled today I am reposting his recommendations:
Right On (McIlheran’s own Journal Sentinel blog)
Blaska’s Blog (link fixed)
No Runny Eggs (look for Steve Egg’s posts)
For a fuller understanding of the big picture, one of our readers reminded me of Professor Daniel DiSalvo’s National Affairs article “The trouble with public sector unions.” This is a good time to check it out if you haven’t already.
As the unions staged their productions in Madison this week, seeking to get the governor and supportive legislators in line, many of us turned to Patrick McIlheran’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel column to understand what was happening. I also called Pat to ask him how to follow events in Madison. He took my call on a busy day and patiently made several recommendations. I caught him on a busy day and I’m sure that left out a few observers whom he would have included on further reflection. In any event, here are his recommendations, in no particular order:
Right On (McIlheran’s own Journal Sentinel blog)
No Runny Eggs (look for Steve Egg’s posts)
Blaska Blog (it unfortunately appears to be suffering from a technical glitch at the moment)
I asked McIlheran if he thought Governor Walker had the spine to see the current crisis through. Pointing to Governor Walker’s record as Milwaukee County Executive, Pat had no hesitation in saying that he thought he did. The Weekly Standard’s Steve Hayes is a Wisconsin native. Steve also cites Governor Walker’s record on this point.
For sane commentary on the events in her backyard (she is a professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School), I am also turning to Ann Althouse. NR editor Rich Lowry visited Wisconsin this past October to check in on Ron Johnson’s Senate campaign. Rich devotes his column today to “the new Wisconsin idea.”
NR has also posted Michelle Malkin’s column “Apocalypse now.” It’s got a “whole world is watching” kind of a theme, to borrow the old radical battle cry. I think that is right on the money, so to speak.
A news operation stripped down to its entertainment essentials … brightly colored showbiz and emotion-churning, paranoid pschyodrama masquerading as news … a basic disrespect for journalism … even a female Roger Ailes. I finally watched the 1976 movie “Network” last night (having seen only part of it many years ago, I’m ashamed to say.) If [...]
The Reid Report
Written by Janine Mendes-Franco
Globewriter is “gripped” by the unfolding situation in Egypt, saying: “It is analogous to numerous other struggles going on within countries by groups of people who demand the right to be heard”, while Antilles reaches for the poems of Martin Carter: “Their ferocity seems recharged by the images and stories from Cairo…but also their moral imperative, and their hope.”
Does anyone else feel like the first-time Super Bowl jitters do not apply to Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers? There’s all kinds of evidence to suggest the Super Bowl-experienced signal caller has an advantage over a guy making his first appearance in the game, but Rodgers has always been unflappable, whether it be dealing [...]
Just how far to the left is Time's Joe Klein?
He actually thinks "Keith [Olbermann] is a brilliant writer, and presenter; I always enjoy watching him, even when he's occasionally wrong":
I'm not so sure what this dispute with MSNBC is all about, but I'm sad that Keith won't be around (at least, for a while). If there is a place for the nonsense-spew of Fox News, there has to be a place on my cable dial for Olbermann (who, while occasionally obnoxious, operates from a base of reality-unlike some people we know [see below]). Keith is a brilliant writer, and presenter; I always enjoy watching him, even when he's occasionally wrong. I hope I'll have the opportunity to do so again soon. In the meantime, I hope he'll heed the words of the master and "Go forth, and spread beauty and light."
Go forth and spread beauty and light?
Is that what Klein thinks this conveyor of half-truths and invective has been doing the past eight years?
Keep that in mind the next time you consider taking Klein seriously.
Because “the presence of women and families at movie theaters increases security risks and inappropriate behavior.” Women are already banned from attending live men’s sporting events, because their doing so would be “incompatible with Islam.” Sharia Alert from the Islamic Republic — oh, and isn’t it grand that Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange made sure that Oklahoma would be safe for Sharia?
“Women soccer fans in Iran may be banned from live broadcasts,” by Reza Sayah for CNN, January 22:
(CNN) — Iranian authorities have ordered a ban on women from watching live broadcasts of soccer matches at public movie theaters, the semi-official ILNA news agency reported.
A state police agency that monitors Iranian businesses called for the ban because “the presence of women and families at movie theaters increases security risks and inappropriate behavior,” ILNA reported….
Women already are banned from attending men’s soccer matches at stadiums.
Hard-line government officials and clerics say the presence of women at men’s sporting events is not compatible with Islam.