Musings On Confusions – April 30 2014

Yet again I find myself behind on my writing. New  York has been simply overwhelming and with too much to focus on, too much to concentrate on, too much to keep up with and too much that I am already behind on. But some weeks have gone by and some new pieces and perspectives have gone public (via publications online), and I thought I would take a rare quiet morning and just share some of them here. The cold, wet, grey day outside is of course another reason to just stay at home a little longer and get this out there. So without further delay…. Details »

The Dahlan Factor by Joseph Massad

Asim Rafiqui‘s insight:

This is an image of the Dahlan article by Joseph Massad that Al-Jazeera quietly removed from its website. Pass it along after reading it.

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The Battle for Justice in Palestine by Ali Abunimah

“The Palestinians are winning,” writes Ali Abunimah in his new book, The Battle for Justice in Palestine. It’s an audacious assessment, and arguably true even in the U.S. This moment of Palestine activism is dynamic and by some measures unprecedented. Of course, Palestinian activism and scholarship have always been vigorous, but at no time in the United States, going back even to the anti-Zionist activity of al-muhjar (the Arab American writers of the early 20th century), has Israel’s behavior been under the sort of scrutiny in evidence today. That scrutiny has been forced into conversation by linking of the Palestine struggle to international movements of decolonization in new media venues, coming together under the name of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions [BDS] movement.

BDS is not simply a political tactic. Even its most optimistic supporter would have a hard time arguing that it will significantly affect détente at the level of the state. However, if we view BDS as a phenomenon on the level of discourse, as Abunimah does, we can better understand its influence on public debate, where pressure on Israel has altered the dynamics of organizing and the vocabularies of advocacy. BDS as a specific movement is nearly a decade old, and emerged out of a weariness about the traditional modes of resistance (dialogue, state intervention, outreach, and so forth), which had largely proved ineffective. BDS has developed through systematic decolonial analysis, with the result that Israel continues to be situated—rightly, in Abunimah’s opinion—as a settler colony.

More here:


Ali Abunimah and Omar Barghouti – brilliant and self-confident Palestinian activists and writers – are the true heirs of Edward Said’s legacy. Writing clearly, honestly and with tremendous generosity of spirit and consistency of morals, they make the argument with strength, and reveal Israel’s unsustainable hypocrisy with wonderful clarity.


Ali Abunimah’s new book promises to be a wonderful read, and an important source of clarity for those who strangely remain confused about what is taking place.

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Murder in Uganda by Helen Epstein

Politics in Uganda is not for the faint-hearted. For years, opposition supporters have been beaten, robbed, murdered, imprisoned in secret police cells, tortured, and charged with treason. Ruling party supporters have shut down the generators of radio stations and even destroyed bridges to prevent opposition candidates from campaigning in some areas. The supposedly impartial Electoral Commission has used donor-funded “civic education” programs to campaign for the ruling party. Cell phone companies and radio stations had been intimidated into refusing to carry opposition advertisements and even text messages.


American Evangelicals, and a venal political establishment that so loves them, and that they so love. To say nothing about the use of ‘homosexuality’ as a weapon to silence dissent and distract from the brutality of the politicians. Epstein yet again is brilliant.

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Not A Part Of It, Nor Safe In It – A New York City I Cannot Recognize

New York is proving to be a strange place to try to work. And for reasons I had not expected. There is an atmosphere of deep fear and suspicion that is casting a pall over the lives and communities I am working with and completely transforming the very idea I have had of this city. Over the last week I have been visiting places – communities and homes there, where I have felt as if I have left the United States of America I once recognized and arrived in a land where the citizens cow in fear, remain silent out of suspicion, constantly look over their shoulders to see who may be watching, refuse to express any opinions, and simply want to disappear. It is a post-surveillance state America and it is all around me, except that I – for the moment enjoying the privileges of a bourgeois life, have simply not noticed that there are possibly hundreds of thousands of people in the greater New York area who cannot live as carefree and as casually as I do here. Details »

What I Am Not Watching: Planet of The Arabs – YouTube

Planet of The Arabs – YouTube.

An Inside View of Arab Photography

Samer Mohdad was once told that “Arab photography did not exist.” This week he is part of an ambitious showcase of contemporary Arab photography at Houston FotoFest.


A powerful way to marginalize works is to place them in a ‘new’ category – there they can reside as an exotica to be gawked at by those interested in their self-invention as ‘cosmopolitan’ or ‘sophisticated’, much like periodically eating at ‘foreign food’ restaurants passes for many as a qualification for ‘international, ‘open minded’ and ‘traveled’. No matter how generous your intention, if you categorize artistic works along ethnic, cultural, national lines, you will always leave it hanging on the margins of the very center that has the power to define these labels. Details »

Did cutting access to mineral wealth reduce violence in the DRC?

One success story hasn’t ended Congo’s conflicts, and the causes of peace are as complex as the causes of war.


n a near 17,000 word critique of Marcus Bleasdale’s Congo, I pointed out that the rather popular, and ahistorical belief that the conflict in the DRC is primarily about minerals, is false. You can read the first part of my piece here – it consists of 4 sections and addresses a range of problems in the DRC narrative that a number of major photojournalists have been offering

Now the Washingtion Post has a excellent piece that points out that:

“There are several problems with Prendergast’s [founder of Enough Project] narrative that scholars of the region have identified, including Severine Autesserre’s point that most DRC conflicts are driven by local interests over land rights and citizenship, identity, and belonging, Cuvelier, Vlassenroot, and Olin’s work showing that there is little empirical evidence or theoretical consensus as to how rebels use resource wealth, and my work arguing that rebels will draw on other sources of revenue in the absence of mineral wealth because the absence of government control allows them to move freely.” Details »

Lynsey Addario on the New Female Face of Afghanistan | LightBox |

Lynsey Addario traveled to Afghanistan ahead of upcoming presidential elections, where the first female governor in the country, Habiba Sarabi, is now the first woman running for vice-president.


Yesterday, shilling for corporations. Today, shilling for illegal military occupations. Forever, ignorant and illiterate photojournalists at the forefront of the use of faux-humanist discourse to veil real military invasions, occupations, and all its associated military violence, civic destruction, institutional corruption, systemic entrenchment of rapists, mass murderers, gang leaders, crooks, drug barons, money laundering masters, and corrupt politicians.

It was only yesterday that Marnia Marzen in her book The Eloquence of Silence was reminding us that

“Perhaps the most spectacular example of the colonial appropriation of women’s voices, and the silencing of those among them who had begun to take women revolutionaries . . . as role models by not donning the veil, was the event of May 16, 1958 [just four years before Algeria finally gained its independence from France after a long bloody struggle and 130 years of French control—L,A.], On that day a demonstration was organized by rebellious French generals in Algiers to show their determination to keep Algeria French, To give the government of France evidence that Algerians were in agreement with them, generals had a few thousand native men bused in from nearby villages, along with a few women who were solemnly unveiled by French women. .. Rounding up Algerians and bringing them to demonstrations of loyalty to France was not in itself an unusual act during the colonial era, But to unveil women at a well-choreographed ceremony added to the event a symbolic dimension that dramatized the one constant feature of the Algerian occupation by France: its obsession with women. [Lazreg 1994:135, See Lughud, Do Muslim Women Need Saving]” Details »