Flagman and influencing government policy post-Mubarak

Despite all the fears about the future of the Egyptian uprising, the trouble now with Israel over the deaths of Egyptian soldiers highlights one of the major shifts that have taken place since January 25: the new power of the Arab street – which politicians and assorted experts abroad have for long long loved to rubbish – to influence government policy. You might think it’s normal for government agendas to reflect at least in broad outlines the will of the people. Not so round here, where Sadat singlehandedly took Egypt’s military out of the equation in the historic conflict with Israel over its displacement of the indigenous population according to terms of a new alliance with the United States involving peace-for-handouts. Continue reading Flagman and influencing government policy post-Mubarak

Repressing your “own people” II

This Jerusalem Post article, “Analysis: Syria – Is it on the threshold of a civil war?”, illustrates just the point I was making in a previous post about the false difference between the state violence of Israel and that of its neighbours. So enticing is this thinking that it leads to whoppers of analytical inshite on the recent events in Syria such as this:

“Military theorists today are divided regarding the role of the main battle tank in the battlefield of the future. Assad over the past 48 hours has demonstrated that whatever the outcome of this debate, the role of the tank as an instrument of war against civilians remains highly relevant in the Middle East.” Continue reading Repressing your “own people” II

Repressing your “own people”

Nationalism when it evolved in Europe in the 19th century postulated an ideal of nation states for specific ethnicities. Germany was for the Germans, France was for the French, etc. Realities were more complex. Histories were distorted to promote ethnic unity and create narratives whose inevitable conclusion was the nation state within the borders of the time. That alone was not enough: war raged in Europe for decades before the arrangement of allegedly ethnic nation states of today was arrived it, and even then there was a return to genocidal warfare in the 1990s when the Balkans finally caught up with the rest of the continent. Continue reading Repressing your “own people”

Palestine 2009: After Gaza

March 2009

Driving from Tel Aviv to Haifa, you could be forgiven for not realizing you are driving close to the old Green Line that marked the border of the mountainous West Bank with Israel until 1967 when Israel seized the occupied territories. The highway is straight and uneventful as it heads through lush farmland on Israeli’s coastal strip on the edge of the West Bank. You cannot see the wall Israel has built near the border, yet Palestinian-looking towns are dotted all around.

But the wall is there all right, hidden on the Israeli side by bushes and trees, concealing the reality of the Palestinian presence from the nervous eyes of Israel’s Jewish citizens. The wall, it seems, is not there to mark a border; it is there to hide the Palestinian. From inside Qalqilya, one of the towns to my right as I head to Haifa, it is a raw presence—concrete and wire fencing surrounding the entire town, bar a checkpoint that controls access in and out. Entering the town was easy enough, but exiting was a problem. The soldiers aggressively wanted to know why we were “entering Israel”. My companion, a journalist from Tobas in the north of the West Bank, was taken aback at the phraseology.

“No, we’re going that way, not into Israel; we’re going to Ramallah.”

“But now you are going into Israel, you go to Israel before you go to Ramallah.”

Continue reading Palestine 2009: After Gaza