As the subject of illegal immigration looms large in the U.S., it can be helpful sometimes to look at how other countries are dealing with similar issues.
The Modern Middle East
What if the shoe was reversed? How would Americans feel if blimps from a foreign government were patrolling our skies?
Is this a necessary security measure….or imperialist arrogance?
This is a barely noticed video on You Tube, but it’s a real gem. It tells the story of a Jewish musician in Israel struggling to revive his grandfather’s legacy as someone who used to play before kings in Baghdad. The grandfather, who was famous in Iraq, ended up selling eggs after emigrating to Israel. This story illustrates the struggles of Sephardic Jews, and what many feel is a systematic discrimination against them in Israel.
Definitely worth watching!
Thank you David Shasha for sending this our way! Continue reading
In a talk entitled “Violence and Dignity–reflections on the Middle East” Noam Chomsky talks Iran, nuclear proliferation, the non-aligned movement, Arab public opinion, and the suppressing of the Western press.
There’s a short introduction, then the talk itself is about 7 minutes.
Chomsky is known for providing analysis on news often ignored by the Western press.
I found this on You Tube today. It was made by a group of students. I don’t like the use of Aladdin towards the end, a movie that plays to racial stereotypes, but there are some beautiful images of geography and landmarks in this video, including some I hadn’t heard of before–Aaron
When Kholoud Sukkarieh and Nidal Darwish decided to get married last year, they never thought they would make history.
For months, Sukkarieh, a Sunni Muslim, and Darwish, a Shia Muslim, fought a legal battle. It was only last week that the country’s caretaker interior minister Marwan Charbel finally signed their marriage contract, making them the first couple in the history of Lebanon and the Arab world to get a civil marriage in their home country.
Lebanon, a small nation with more than 18 different religious sects, had no institutional civil marriage. A decree issued in 1936 by the French mandate [decree RL60], gives religious communities the legal administrative status and jurisdiction over personal status matters, including marriage.
Mixed marriages are socially and religiously discouraged and interfaith couples – such as Sukkarieh and Darwish, who do not wish to convert to one another’s religion – previously had to travel abroad to get a civil marriage. Ironically, that marriage was then recognised and registered in Lebanon.
Jay Solomon at The Wall Street Journal highlights the growing rift among U.S. allies in the Arab world between the secularists and the political islamists, showing that the Arab Spring is by no means a unified movement.
“There is no coherent Arab coalition,” a senior U.S. official said Monday, adding that the divisions now could spur a power struggle in the future.
In one camp, said the officials, are Qatar and Turkey, whose leaders are supportive of a political Islam that is gaining hold in Egypt, Syria, Tunisia and Libya. Qatar and Turkey have shown particular support for the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist movement whose politicians now dominate the governments in Cairo and Tunis and are active in Syria’s opposition.
A second camp is led by Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E. and Jordan, Sunni monarchies whose royal families are hostile toward the Muslim Brotherhood and its potential for destabilizing their own political and economic systems, said these officials.
“We have pretty fundamental disagreements on policy. We simply believe in different philosophies,” said a senior Arab official from this second faction in describing his government’s relationship with Qatar. “We believe in secularism and they support political Islam,” he added. “We believe in picking sides; they believe in picking both sides.”
A Western reporter hears the sound of hundreds of calls to prayer blasted over microphones in Jeddah.
Syrian allies in the region will prevent President Bashar Assad’s government from being toppled, the leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah stated in a televised speech.
“Syria has real friends in the region and the world that will not let Syria fall in the hands of America, Israel or Takfiri groups, they will not let this happen,” Nasrallah said as quoted by the local news website Daily Star.
The Hezbollah chief stressed that considering the facts on ground, the rebels lacked the capabilities for a military takeover.
“You cannot topple the regime militarily and the facts on the ground prove that you can’t, although you are fighting the Syrian army and the pro-regime popular forces. Until the moment no Iranian forces have entered Syria.”
Two things about this story that are interesting: First, there’s an Arab version of American Idol. Second, in a region where borders were drawn arbitrarily by former colonial powers, and where identity often determines access to resources, even an innocuous talent show can stir up significant emotions.
(Reuters) – A singer from Iraq’s Kurdistan region has made it through to the semi-final of an Arab talent contest, igniting heated debates over Iraqi identity and politicizing the popular TV show.
A panel of judges praised 24-year-old Parwaz Hussein and she was voted through to the next round of “Arab Idol”, in which aspiring popstars from Morocco to Bahrain compete for a recording contract.
Many Kurds have rallied behind Parwaz, who wore a pendant in the shape of “greater Kurdistan” – the term used to describe the territory Kurds claim as their rightful homeland, which covers swathes of Syria, Turkey, Iran and Iraq.
“If before you were a singer, now you bear a great patriotic responsibility,” one Facebook user called Kurdistani Kurdan wrote on Parwaz’s page.
Numbering more than 25 million, the non-Arab Kurds are often described as the world’s largest ethnic group without a state and regard national borders as an historical injustice that has led to their systematic oppression.
In Iraq, Kurds were the target of chemical attacks under deposed strongman Saddam Hussein, but now enjoy a large measure of self-rule in the north of the country, where they run their own administration and armed forces.
Kurdish autonomy is enshrined in Iraq’s federal constitution, drawn up after the U.S.-led invasion of 2003. The document recognizes Kurdish as Iraq’s second official language.
But relations between the northern enclave and the central government in Baghdad have been strained by disputes over land and oil rights that have worsened since U.S. troops left in December 2011.
At her first audition, Parwaz, who speaks broken Arabic, was accompanied by a translator so she could communicate with the judges. She has sung in both Arabic and Kurdish.
Unlike two other Arab Iraqi contestants who were described as being from Iraq, Parwaz’s origin was referred to as “Iraqi Kurdistan”. On Saturday night’s show, one of the judges took issue with the distinction.
“I am against the country title that says Parwaz is from Kurdistan, because Kurdistan is an inseparable part of Iraq,” said Ahlam, a popstar from the United Arab Emirates. “I want your introduction to say that you are from Iraq and not Kurdistan.”
The comment provoked an angry response among Kurds, who said it was evidence of Arab racism towards them.
“Tell Ahlam we are not Arabs,” said Ako Aljaff on Parwaz’s Facebook page. Others said that as a Kurd she should not have entered a competition called “Arab Idol” in the first place.
Ahlam later apologized on her Facebook page, but many Kurds said they would not accept the gesture unless it was broadcast on television. Some Arab nationalists took umbrage at that.
“If the Kurds didn’t like what Ahlam said, let them go to India or Pakistan or the Soviet Union or Armenia and establish their state far away from us,” said one Facebook user named Moteb Saud.
(Editing by Alistair Lyon)