killing denouement

(cha)osmosis in cairo

This was of course an early morning joke – we were on a dusty balcony in Ard El Golf, a long way off from the Egyptian-Israeli border. It never did rain and we didn’t find out what the booming noises ever were – not dissimilar to a supersize Iftar cannon, but at completely the wrong time of year. Getting back to Dubai, however I came across something that’s a little less of a joke:

[23 miles off the coast of Gaza, at 15:30pm yesterday] – Israeli Occupation Forces attacked and boarded the Free Gaza Movement boat, the “Spirit of Humanity,” abducting 21 human rights workers from 11 countries, including Noble laureate Mairead Maguire and former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (see below for a complete list of passengers). The passengers and crew are being forcibly dragged toward Israel.

Cairo itself was a really sick experience, albeit an exercise in imbibed hairballs (from two adorable Persian cats) and chaos. Perhaps I went expecting to magically be able to speak 3amiya (colloquial) – I couldn’t, though I got along fine with Fusha and acquired Shami/Khaleeji polymumblings. Towards the end I found it much easier to follow conversations to boot, while still finding more complex (b)olitical ones difficult. Many wonderful people, interesting insights with regards to Egypt-Palestine, good films at the Cairo Refugee Film Festival I volunteered at, unfortunate communions with both the Cairo Scholars list and a toilet bowl (many comparisons to be made from utility to aesthetics no?) an 3oud (!) and a month later, there’s not much to say. Or perhaps I’m still residually exhausted – something in the pollution-meets soundscapes? But here’s a few pictures anyway. Mostly from a mosque in the Khan-el-Khalili area before my camera imploded slightly, magically, if frustratingly coming back to life in the last two days (Flickr, is of course still charmingly blocked in the UAE).


Palestine, BDS and anarchism?

Palestina by Melanie Cervantes
Here’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, after coming across Wayne Price’s “the Palestinian Struggle and the Anarchist Dilemma, fleshing out my own thoughts on the death of armed struggle, and then following the recent successes of the US Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaign. At least thus far it’s been something I’m a bit reluctant to take on especially as it looks like this is what I’ll inshallah be PhD applying to, so maybe part of a series?

BDS – Pushing for institutional change
As much as I wholeheartedly believe in, and work with BDS campaigns at various levels, there’s something that makes me slightly uneasy about banking on consumerist/lifestylist, institutional, and interstatist avenues to produce social change. Not just the question of academic boycott, which I’m wholly torn on, but it that it feels like a ‘necessary evil’, a compromise for campaign efficiency, in a way. Necessary evils – awkward good/evil morality aside, it feels like an awkward liberal binary, or people who consider themselves anti-authoritarian but insist on centralised and hierarchical organisations and meeting structures for ‘efficiency’s sake’. You could perhaps look at it in the view that ‘every little bit helps’, think global act immediately local, and so on . Kind of the way I feel about veganism, buying local/from CSAs, fair trade etc – a good (if privilege imbued) along-the-way means to an end, but not the end in itself. But when BDS becomes, or rather, feels like the only avenue, what then?


solidarity forever? (كلنا فلسطين؟ او كلنا غزه؟)

What does it mean to say ‘we are all Palestinian’, or ‘we are all Gaza‘? (And for many now, ‘we are all Hamas‘ – is this a popular semantic de-bantustanising?) Because we’re not. I really don’t know what I understand by the concept of solidarity anymore. There’s different forms and gradations, sure, ranging from statements and Facebook updates, to protests, boycotts and direct action, perhaps all the way to using your passport privilege to plant yourself in front of an Israeli or Mexican tank or bulldozer. And not to knock or denigrate that in any way, but I wonder if there can be real solidarity until you’re standing at either end of a gun? Or perhaps solidarity must instead be defined by its very passive nature – of relative privilege and thus allyship – always in solidarity but never in the struggle? (With an emphasis on the relative as opposed to absolute, tied to [blank] oppression – there’s of course cross-solidarity between differently oppressed peoples).

Maybe this is stemming from frustration, at being in Dubai-not-DC tomorrow, at lacking the aforementioned passport privilege and protection that my decidedly not navy blue passport will never afford. (If you’re not Rachel Corrie, that is). Thinking of the ‘we are all’ standard phrasing though, where does it come from? I can’t seem to find out, though there are suggestions of it coming from Paris 1968, with the denizens of the Quartier Latin’s slogan, “We are all German Jews” in solidarity with the banned Daniel Cohn-Bendit. Or maybe it comes from anti-Nazi peace activist Rev. Martin Niemöller’s famous statement?

MORE.. [graphic warning]

glamming up the IDF

Is this the new face of war? It’s no secret that the Israeli Defense Forces could probably do with a PR boost these days. Their solution? A new glammed up self-refreshing banner on their english language website, featuring a slew of sexy soldier femme-fatale types, smiling and pouting at the camera, sometimes in fields of red flowers. Some of them look almost editorial, replete with artfully smudged warpaint, and the kind of careful dustings of grainy sand that you most often find in swimwear shoots. The image above is particularly striking, with its sweeping bullets and row of machine gun ammunition. Out of context, I would personally find it very difficult to identify the bullets as anything but jumbo crayon oversized sticks of kohl, perhaps the shimmery highlight kind. Sex sells, sure, but can it really sell occupation and massacre?


is gaza genocide? darfur, palestine and the politics of naming

Is Gaza a genocide; is Darfur a genocide? Where do you draw the lines between ‘land conflict’, ‘ethnic cleansing’ and genocide’, and what are the political value(s) of doing so? And how does something get designated as genocide anyway – is it, legally, only when the ICC at the Hague says so?

These are a couple of things I’ve been thinking through lately, having just taken a fairly broad based intro course with Mahmood Mamdani, which ended by looking at Darfur. To be fair, his somewhat controversial views did not come out explicitly in lecture, but having looked them up, I found myself agreeing, at least in part. With Darfur, as with Palestine I admittedly know only smidgens of the context from what I have read, but even in a vacuum, there’s value in the consideration that naming something a ‘conflict’ or ‘genocide’ has very real political affects. (The above is a real ad by the way, not a culturejam riff on Miranda July as I first thought. It ran in the New York Times Magazine, on April 10, 2008).

It’s especially interesting then as I just wrote a paper on said politics of naming in both Darfur and Palestine. (And ‘interesting’ is such a strange go-to-in-order-to-highlight word, one that I awkwardly cycle with ‘fascinating’, and even the aggrandising ‘significant’. Because it is not strange, but indeed heart wrenching and what else can you do in powerlessness but a detatched and masqued quasi-academic commentary?

more… (a lot!)

gaza graffiti and mark seager

According to JustSeeds, this sick piece ” appeared yesterday in the South Bronx. The wall faces the Bruckner Expressway, a highly used elevated highway passing through the Bronx”. It got me wondering about graffiti in Gaza itself, and I came across Mark Seager‘s amazing photographs. He says that these photos were taken during visits in 2001 at the beginning of the Intifada, and again in 2003 circa the Iraqi invasion. They’re almost all the more precious in that these walls are most likely bombed and decimated by now, with their images erased forever – unlike images buffed away on city orders, that still leaveghostly outlines.


gaza massacre in media

unknown, AP

There was a crazy fog today and tonight – lower than I’ve ever seen it in the daytime-, covering everything with muffled dampness. Kind of like the Arab response, then? Dubai in particular usually drops big money on fireworks displays and the like yet this year festivities have been subdued or, like the fireworks, cancelled. I believe a bunch of other Arab states are doing the same, all in solidarity with Gaza. Shame that’s about as far as it will probably extend, humanitarian aid aside. And while people rally to protest at Israeli embassies around the world, here it happens at the Palestinian embassy instead. With no embassy in much of the Arab World, I did wonder where people would mobilise to, save for angry letters-to-the-editor invectives – L’Oreal counters perhaps? Libyans, however took to the Egyptian embassy instead, while others opted for the streets. From what I’m reading, Amman saw upwards of 20 000 taking to the streets demanding an end to the 1994 peace deal with Israel.

bombs over baghdad, grenades over gaza? [warning: images may be disturbing]


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