• Israel,  Middle East

    Fathom 21 | ‘Understanding the Jews of the Middle East and North Africa is the key to understanding the whole Middle East conflict’: an interview with Lyn Julius

    Earlier this year Fathom’s Grant Goldberg interviewed Lyn Julius about her new book, Uprooted, which documents 3,000 years of Jewish civilisation in the Arab world and explains how and why that civilisation vanished in a single generation in the middle of the 20th century. Julius describes what brought Nazi Germany, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem into an alliance and how this impacted Jews in the Middle East and the formation of the State of Israel.  Grant Goldberg: What prompted you to write the book? Lyn Julius: I have a strong connection to the region. My parents arrived in Britain in 1950 as Iraqi-Jewish refugees, and throughout my…

  • Middle East

    All of the above

    I think this cartoon manages to be a lot more sensible about the awful mess in Yemen (and no, I’m not letting Obama off the hook here, although he can’t shoulder all the blame) than George Galloway’s nonsensical tweet below.

  • Academia,  Middle East

    Academic conference from Hell

    It’s underway at the American University of Beirut. The university’s Center for American Studies and Research is sponsoring a “Transnational American Studies” conference, marking the 10th anniversary of the death of Edward Said. The keynote speaker is Dr. Judith Butler, who famously declared that Hamas and Hezbollah are “part of the global Left.” It looks to be a veritable festival of post-modernism, post-colonialism and academic gobbledygook– with no shortage of anti-Zionism and Israel-bashing. For example: OK. You got your pinkwashing and your redwashing. But where’s the session on bluewashing? (According to The Electronic Intifada, that’s when Israel provides humanitarian assistance to disaster victims and then dares to publicize the fact.)…

  • Middle East

    Lines in the sand and a few questions

    This is a guest post by LibertyPhile A very large old map showing the way the British and French carved up the Middle East in 1916, accompanied by a large portrait of Mark Sykes, co-author of the notorious Sykes-Picot agreement, dominates and introduces a recent article on the BBC website. This article, “Why border lines drawn with a ruler in WW1 still rock the Middle East”, summarises the views of Tarek Osman the presenter of four Radio 4 programmes on “The Making of the Modern Arab World”. Osman explains: The map that the two men drew divided the land that had been under Ottoman rule since the early 16th Century…

  • Middle East,  Syria,  UK Politics

    Syrian weapons

    It is not often that I find myself agreeing, at least in part with Diane Abbott, but she and others have a point on Syria.  She’s threatening to resign (yes she’s shadow public health minister) if Labour backs the government and attacks Syria. She told the Guardian: “I voted against the Iraq War. At the moment, I can’t see anything that would make me vote for intervention in Syria. Essentially it’s a civil war. What Libya and Egypt have taught us is that these situations in the Middle East are complex. It’s not good guys in white hats and bad guys in black hats.” Iraq aside, the case for intervention in…

  • Israel,  Israel/Palestine,  Mehdi Hasan,  Middle East

    Mehdi Hasan Shouldn’t Rush to Bury Two States

    By Shany Mor Mehdi Hasan has declared the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict dead. He reaches this conclusion largely by talking only to people on both sides who are opposed to two states, and by stringing together out-of-context quotes by Israeli former-establishment figures that supposedly unveil Israel’s malicious intent. Hasan’s case boils down to two arguments. First, the growth of West Bank settlements has made partitioning the land impossible.  Second, the peace process is, and always has been, a sham; the very phrase ‘peace process’ is ‘lazy’ and ‘offensive’. The Israeli settlement enterprise, to be sure, has not been helpful to the cause of two states.  In fact, not only has it done much damage to the cause of a Palestinian state, it is increasingly clear to most Israelis that…

  • Middle East

    What’s the matter with Qatar?

    Quite a lot, as Jeffrey Goldberg writes, including cruel and abusive treatment of the 90 percent of its population who are migrant workers, and providing huge subsidies for Hamas in Gaza while calling for normalization of relations between Arabs and Israel.

  • Israel/Palestine,  Media,  Middle East

    BBC’s Jon Donnison Tweets malicious fauxtography

    This is a cross-post from BBCWatch Among the recent Tweets on the BBC Gaza correspondent Jon Donnison’s Twitter timeline we find this: For the Twitter uninitiated, Donnison is retweeting to his 7,971 followers a Tweet by one Hazem Balousha – a Palestinian ‘journalist and social activist’ – including a picture titled “Pain in Gaza”, to which Donnison adds his own commentary – “Heartbreaking”. The picture is indeed heartbreaking: Except  – as has already been pointed out to Donnison – it does not come from Gaza. Here is the original picture: Up to now, it may have been possible to put down Jon Donnison’s frequently problematic reporting to a lack of knowledge…

  • Media,  Middle East

    The “Muslim Rage” meme

    In the wake of Newsweek’s infamous cover last month, Bob Garfield of NPR’s “On the Media” and Middle East scholar Marc Lynch discussed the lack of nuance and context in the coverage of the recent anti-American violence and protests in the Middle East and North Africa. Lynch notes that the Western media generally ignore larger protests over such mundane (to Westerners) matters as domestic corruption and economic fairness. After the notable failure of the Charlie Hebdo Mohammed cartoons to provoke much outrage, he wrote last month at Foreign Policy: [T]he Arab uprisings make it harder for a single issue to dominate the public agenda than in the past. In 2006,…