Do Unto Others focuses on the Middle East, (nonviolent) social movements, and how I make sense of my place in the world. I'm currently based in Cairo, Egypt doing peacebuilding and community development.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Trailer for upcoming film: Some of my best friends are Zionists

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A collection of quotes from 9/11 columns

The last several weeks have seen a flurry of coverage and attention paid to the commemoration of one decade since the violent attacks of September 11th, 2001. Many newspapers and media outlets have provided extensive coverage of the rememberance. I've been slowly wading through the material from sources like the New York Times, Al Jazeera, Common Dreams, and the Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism.

What I've provided below is a collection of some of the best quotes I found within the columns I read. I took issue with the overall tone of a couple of the articles below, while others, I agreed with almost completely. The point of the exercise wasn't to provide examples of people with whom I agree, but to present a readable chunk of material, covering a relatively wide range of issues spiraling out of 9/11, with links so you could explore what piques your interest.

ROBERT A. PAPE: The End of Fear, The Beginning of Understanding
Have these actions – which some have called, “World War IV” – made America safe?
Anti-American suicide terrorism rose rapidly around the world in the decade since September 11, 2001. In 2003, then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld famously asked, “Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us?” As even a casual glance at the facts shows, the answer is a disappointing no. The negative side of the balance sheet is daunting.
Look at the numbers. In 2000 – the year before 9/11 – there were 20 suicide attacks around the world and one – against the US Cole in Yemen – was anti-American inspired. By contrast, in 2010, there were well over 200 suicide attacks and about 90 percent were anti-American inspired – against US troops or those working with America – a ten-fold increase over the past decade.
Islamic fundamentalism is not the main driver of suicide terrorism. What drives this phenomenon more than any other single factor is foreign military presence – which inspires wave after wave of individuals to join terrorist groups in order to carry out suicide attacks in the hope that these would end the foreign presence in their lands.
SCOTT SHANE -- Al Qaeda’s Outsize Shadow: The brazenness and sheer luck of the 9/11 plot have stood for a decade as an argument that anything is possible
Nonetheless, the brazenness of the 9/11 plot and the brilliance and sheer luck of its execution have stood for a decade as an argument that, no matter what any expert says, anything is possible. The attacks inflicted on the American psyche a kind of collective post-traumatic stress disorder, producing at a societal level the hypervigilance that soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan know too well.
RAMI KHOURI: The Middle East Ten Years After 9/11
The biggest policy failure in the response to 9/11 in the West and the Middle East was the inability or unwillingness of governments to analyze Al-Qaeda terror in its full context for what it really was: a small fringe movement – a violent, marginal cult on the run – that consistently failed to resonate with publics across the Arab-Asian region, but that exploited widely held grievances against Arab and Asian governments and the foreign policies of the United States and Israel.
AHMED RASHID -- And Hate Begat Hate
The wave of anti-Americanism is rising in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, even among many who once admired the United States, and the short reason for that is plain: the common resentment is that American plans to bring peace and development to Afghanistan have failed
JOHN ESPOSITO: The Consequences of Islamophobia, in the U.S. and Abroad
Because the small number of extremists responsible for 9/11 and terrorist attacks in Europe and the Muslim world legitimated their acts in the name of Islam, we have seen an exponential increase in the past ten years of hostility and intolerance towards fellow Muslim citizens. This hatred threatens the democratic fabric of American and European societies and impacts not only the safety and civil liberties of Muslims but also, as the attacks in Norway demonstrate, the safety of all citizens.
Like other Americans, Muslims also were victims; they too lost loved ones and friends in the 9/11 attacks. Moreover, they have seen their religion vilified and many in the mainstream Muslim majority have been victims of serious abuses — racial profiling, overzealous and illegal arrests and detentions, surveillance, wiretapping and trials using “secret evidence”
CHRIS HEDGES -- A Decade After 9/11: We Are What We Loathe
There would soon, however, be another reaction. Those of us who were close to the epicenters of the 9/11 attacks would primarily grieve and mourn. Those who had some distance would indulge in the growing nationalist cant and calls for blood that would soon triumph over reason and sanity. Nationalism was a disease I knew intimately as a war correspondent. It is anti-thought. It is primarily about self-exaltation. The flip side of nationalism is always racism, the dehumanization of the enemy and all who appear to question the cause. The plague of nationalism began almost immediately.
We produced piles of corpses in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, and extended the reach of our killing machine to Yemen and Somalia. And by beatifying our dead, by cementing into the national psyche fear and the imperative of permanent war, and by stoking our collective humiliation, the state carried out crimes, atrocities and killings that dwarfed anything carried out against us on 9/11.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

The Kuffiyeh is Arabic (music video)

Great new song from Palestinian MC, Shadia Mansour, featuring M1 of Dead Prez.

Arabic translations of verses and chorus (h/t Seham and Inanna):
Good morning cousins, welcome, you honor us,
What would you like us to offer you,, Arab blood or tears from our eyes? “
I think that’s how they expected us to welcome them,
That’s why they got embarrassed when they realized their mistake,
That’s why we wore the keffiyeh, the white and black,
And now these dogs are wearing it for fashion,
No matter how they redesign it, no matter how they change its colour,
the kuffiysh is Arab and will remain Arab.

Our kuffiyeh, they want it, our culture, they want it,
Our dignity they want it, Everything that’s ours, they want it.
We shut up for them, we allow(excuse) them, (1)
Why, why, it suits them, Stealing something that’s none of your business,
They imitate us, what we wear, all this land, enough of this (2), they’re greedy,
About Jerusalem, the Holy City, know how, be humane,
Before you ever wore a kuffiyeh, we’re here to remind you this is our keffiyeh, against the will of your damn fathers (3).

That’s why we wore the keffiyeh, because it’s patriotic, the kuffiyeh is Arab, That’s why we wore the kuffiyeh, it’s our essential identity, the kuffiyeh is Arab. Come on, raise the kuffiyeh, raise it up for me, the kuffiyeh is Arab

Raise it up Bilad as-Sham (Greater Syria or the Levant), the kuffiyeh is Arab and it will remain Arab.
There’s none yet like the Arab people, Show me another nation in the world more influential,
It’s clear, we are the cradle of civilisation, Our history and culture testify/bear witness to our existence,
That’s why I wore the Palestinian ‘tob’, From Haifa, Jenin, Jabar al-Nar to Ramallah,
Let me see the kuffiyeh, the white and red, Let me raise it up to the sky,
(next 3 lines unclear – Palestinian accent is confusing me)

Record! I am Shadia Mansour and this is my kuffiyeh (4)
From the day I was born, raising consciousness was my responsibility
Because I was raised between destruction, between evil, between religions between aliens (interlopers) (5) between the poor. I’ve seen life from both sides.
I’m like the kuffiyeh, Wherever you wear me, wherever you toss me away, I remain true to my origins, Palestinian.

(1) These lines are interesting because they are a play on words. They can mean ‘We shut up for them, we allow them’ but the she says them splits what is a single word in Arabic into two words which means Half the country, half the land. So I think she is trying to convey both meanings.

(2) The Arabic for ‘Enough of this’ is ‘bikaffi al ghinnij’, which means literally means ‘that’s enough spoiling of them’. In other words, we allowed them (the Israelis) to get away with too much, they’re taken too much away from us.

(3) The Arabic is ‘ghas min 3an abukun’ which is tough to translate. I’ve translated it above but Haytham’s translations are also acceptable.

(4) I’ve translated ‘sajjal’ as ‘record’ since that is the way that Darwish’s poem is translated and, in Arabic, to listen and to record are two different words, which the translator above should have known!

(5) the Arabic dakheel means aliens or interlopers – she’s referring to the invasion of the zionists of Palestine