Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Chapter 9

Chapter 9
In this chapter, Suraiya Faroqui speaks upon her research she acquired while researching for and of which she compiled in her book entitled 'Subjects of the Sultan.' In her book, she documents the daily lives of women living during the reign of the Ottoman Empire. In it, she discusses the roles of women and men. She sites that the relationship between men and women centered around the focus upon procreation and that ultimately leads to the preoccupation of finding a mate. In Ottoman society, marriages were arranged by parents. However, they could also be arranged by the employer of a peasant if she lived in their home. Muslim men however, were more privileged than women. They could marry a non-Muslim woman and divorce their spouse without reason. Women could not marry non-Muslim men: however, in marriages of mixed faiths, the children acquired the religion of their father. If a woman became a widow, she could not enter the household of a male relative, the majority of the husband's estate was inherited to the children of the marriage with only a small portion going to the wife.
Ms. Faroqhi sites two ways by which impoverished women could change their circumstances. They could marry a wealthier man (which if they were poor,could only be done if they worked in the home of a wealthier man in which he would search for a partner for his 'domestic' of equal wealth as him). If a woman was of wealth and she wanted to invest her money,she could do so as a 'silent partner' in which she would supply the money by which a 'travelling agent--a man' would invest for her.
Nevertheless, the prevalent two themes are that women with great financial wealth could equal the importance of men during the Ottoman Empire if he was of lesser or equal wealth and of course, men had more power and rights and currently still do in Islamic states.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

FINAL PAPERS: Forces and Issues in the Middle East

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On Hannah Arendt's "On Totalitarianism"

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On Hardt and Negri's Empire

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36] The Historical Context: The West and Islam

The Historical Context: The West and Islam
by Marco Mua

Bernard Lewis and Edward Said are both intellectuals who have opposite views regarding the relationship between Islam and the West. Lewis strongly believes in Samuel Huntington’s assertion that the major source of global conflict in the future will be cultural. In actuality, Huntington’s popular writings were derived from Lewis’s work! Lewis felt that the Islam versus the West would be a major source of conflict. On the other hand, Said feels that Lewis’s views regarding Islam and the West are much too simplistic.

Lewis points out some interesting historical events. He says that there was violent conflict between the Protestant and Catholic sects of Christianity during the 16th and 17th century. The conflict was violent and intense. Christians believed in crushing or killing non-believers. Violent conflict could be avoided only by depriving religious institutions of their power. This led to secularization which removed religious power from government power. Both powers were separated.

Lewis mentions that Islam was very tolerant during historical times. Islam was tolerant to those who had alternative religious beliefs. Therefore, Lewis felt that there was no need for secularism in Islam. I disagree with that point. Turkey had a need for secularism, which derived from their historical experience. Lewis’s points are way too simplistic.

Lewis mentions that historically, the Islamic world emulated and admired the West. During modern times, admiration of the West has changed into an attitude of hostility and rejection. Lewis does a good job of explaining why this is the case. He mentions that western-style economic methods brought poverty in the Middle-East. Western-style political institutions have brought tyranny and oppression to the region. This resulted in a desire for Islamic rule and institutions.

I agree with Lewis in regards to why the Islamic world switched from admiring the West to rejecting the West. I would like to add that Western institutions and political structures that have been imposed on the Middle East are designed to serve the West! No wonder why Middle-Easterners reject western institutions and values.

These western values are imposed on the Middle-East in order to serve the West. In other words, economic and political structures are designed to give America and Great Britian control over oil and other Middle-Eastern resources. These structures are designed to benefit Western politicians and corporations! That is exactly why most Muslims turned to Islamic institutions. The trouble with this is that Islamic leaders are not well educated in finance or science. They are only educated in Koranic studies. Most religious leaders weather they are Jewish, Christian, or Muslim are poorly educated. That is why I believe their power should be curbed or put in check.

Said disagrees with Lewis on one key point. He disagrees with Lewis and Huntington about Islam and the West being the main source of future conflict. Said feels that generalizing people into such simplistic categories such as the West and Islam, is way too simplistic. He feels that the reality is much more complicated. Said believes that identity and culture are hugely complicated matters that cannot be generalized into the categories of the West versus Islam.

The major conflict in most cultures is in regards to how to define and interpret each culture. Huntington puts civilization and identity into simplified groups. This has allowed for imperial conquest and religious wars to take place. Politicians make these simplified generalizations in order to mobilize collective passions in order to support political ideals. A good example of this is George W Bush stating, “You are either with us or against us.”

Said did an excellent job of pointing out that Huntington and Lewis’s view of the
West versus Islam is way to simplistic. It is also very dangerous. Said believes that education and learning about why other cultures favor certain systems is a good way of preventing future conflict. That will make it harder for politicians to convince us in supporting war and violence. Said makes a stronger case the Lewis.

The West and Islamic world isn’t as different as politicians make it out to be. American Idol is obviously a Western creation. On the BBC I saw pictures of Libyan idol! Gaddafi personally approved this. It is too simplistic for Lewis to say the Middle-East completely rejects the West in modern times. Many Middle-Easterners watch American movies, listen to American music, wear European and American clothes, and eat fast food. I agree with Said’s assertion that the world is too interconnected to have such a blatant cultural divide as the West versus Islam.

Future sources of conflict will continue to be over natural resources such as oil, water, and cultivable land. The world is too interconnected for cultural conflicts. Whenever there is a cultural conflict, it is usually caused by politicians trying to advance their interests. It does not occur on it’s own. The imaginary Shia versus Sunni divide is an example of this. Said understands that the reality of the world is disorganized and complicated, while Lewis’s world view is overly simplistic and not grounded in reality.

35] The Policy Debate

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34] The Threat of Osama bin Laden and American Responses

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Terrorism, War, Global Responsibility

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33] Modern Islamic Radicalism

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32] Early Ideologues of Islamic Radicalism

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31] Egypt and Lebanon: Secularism and Confessionalism

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30] Wars at the end of the Twentieth Century and the Beginning of the Twenty-First

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29] OPEC and the World Economy

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28] Intervention and Revolution in Iran

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27] U.S. Presidential Policies, 1947 - 2002

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Sunday, November 13, 2005

chapter 35

Within this article, the author initially portrays America as a country that is lax because it has long enjoyed security from the world by the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. In the wake of 9/11, America was rudely awakened and was forced to take a rigid posture of alertness and defensiveness. Most of the world learned of this horrific event through the media: newspapers, television, the internet, etc. Through these outlets, the government censored non-aligned views. To illustrate the lack of competing views, Negri and Hardt chooses to do what they deem did not occur and include alongside the government's stance, the opinions of others such as Brent Scowcroft and Richard A,. Falk.

Section A: 'The Voice of America'
Hardt and Negri begin with President Bush's 2002, 'Axis of Evil' speech in which he names Iran, Iraq, and North Korea as rogue nations whose sole intent is to terrorize the world. The authors portray the invasion of Afghanistan as the correct retaliation for the acts of 9/11. With an invasion of Afghanistan, the government achieved its two objectives:
1. Shut down terrorist camps, disrupt terrorist plans, and bring terrorists to justice and
2. Prevent terrorists and regimes who seek chemichal, biological or nuclear weapons form threatening the United States.

Section B: Chairman of the Forum for International Policy perspective
Brent Scowcroft's article is in the defense of Saddam Hussein. He feels the Bush administration is eager to goto war in Iraq and seek to legitimate their goal by insinuating to the American public that Saddam wants to "dominate the Persian Gulf, to control oil from the region, or both." However, Scowcroft sites that "there is [little] eveidence to tie Saddam to terrorist organizations, and ven less to the September 11th attacks./ [Futhermore], he seeks weapons of mass destruction...to deter [the United States] from intervening to block his aggressive designs." Due to the inclusion of Scowcroft's statements, one realizes that the chapter was written prior to the US invasion even though the book's publish year is 2003. Scowcroft's answer to the situation, 'no notice inspections' were of no use to the Bush administration. His predictions of a long-term occupation may occur and the Iraqi invasion has diverted America's attention away from Afghanistan.

Section B: retired Ivy League professor
Richard A. Falk's argument centers around the negative aspects of post 9/11 censorship that was generated at the macro-level and has managed to penetrate to the micro-levels of society. The Orwellian notion and role of 'Big Brother' was seemingly accepted by Americans after 9/11. Falk beleives this unquestioned loyalty is "a...mandate for unregulated law enforcement, wide discretion to maintain secrecy, lengthy detention of suspects w/out due process, racial profiling as the basis of police action, and a suspension of legal protection for those in our midst who are not citizens" (337). Two important points that Falk makes are:
1. militant Islam is the ONLY response to American dominance in the Middle East and
2. there have only been three political/military success of the Middle East: Ayatollah Khomeini, the Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, and bin Laden triumph over the Soviet Union.
The key issue in the US dealing with the Middle East, according to Falk is the Palestinian-Israel relationship.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

RAI's new documentary: "The Hidden Massacres"

There is a new documentary out, made by one of Italy's RAI ( i believe it's RAI 24) channels called "The Hidden Massacres", in which allegedly the U.S. Army has been using chemical weapons in their attacks (specifically, white phosphorous) and they show how bodies are burnt while their clothes are still intact. I have not seen the documentary itself, but have seen interviews on it and debates about the 'legality' ( i can't believe this!) of using white phosphorous in battles where both so-called insurgents and civilians are its victim. This is very disturbing. The pictures are horrific.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Article 22: Out of Despair Revived Nationalism

This posting is with reference to the article I presented in class: it is article 22, Arab Assertions: Out of Despair Revived Nationalism.

The centerpiece of this article is a poem by Nizar Qabbani. He was born in Damascus and retired as a Syrian Diplomat. However, he is widely known as a poet. "Qabbani took on taboo subjects, which he described in rebellious, well-crafted, popular language, forever changing the nature of Arabic poetry from a formalized medium into a popular one" (194). The title of the poem contained in article 22 translates to "Annotations to the Notebook of the Disaster." It is his commentary on the 1967 Arab Alliance defeat against Israel. He deems it as an event that should have shown the strength of the Middle East instead, it displayed before the audience of the world, its vulnerability.

Lines 1-8: the author wishes to give insight into his own personal feelings by using 1st person
9-22: He describes salt metaphorically as a preservative: however, in the Middle East, it has preserved only facets frowned on by the West such as a poor women's rights record, turmoil brought upon by frequent war, lack of advanced technology, and politicians who use words, with no weight with the people. Poets, Qabbani deems are the only ones who have been able to empathize with the people and express their plight. Words used by poets are useful but in the mouth of a political, dead air.
Qabbani is very critical of them: he states in lines 23-25 that politicians create war without having the personal experience of war.

He gives a third person account of the Middle East beginning with lines 53. He states that the West views Muslims as 'thick-skinned...[with] hollow souls" who are also juvenile, lazy, and mysterious.

In lines 67 to 81, Qabbani laments that Arab leaders should have used the one advantage they had, oil, to advance their society: meanwhile, due to this ignorance, their people have suffered due to lack of advanced weaponry and that which holds any society together, faith, is condemned and critized even their posture when praying.

Qabbani feels that the true reason for Arab defeat was due to the 'deaf' walls of their leadership: the political figures of their respective countries did not want to hear the little people...what could they know?

Lastly, the poet states that he wished he was able to have dialogue with the Arab leaders because perhaps, defeat could have been prevented.

His advice to the future is that leadership should listen to those they govern. Qabbani's poem was a commentary on democracy.


Please post your outline for your final paper. Others will comment.

CRTICAL REVIEW PAPER 2: Empire, a critical analysis

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Please post your review of Empire in this thread.


In the comment box, please post your first critical review paper.

The Gaza Withdrawal: Comments by Pavel Shub


Posting 1

Now that Israel has completed its withdrawal from Gaza and Western donors have began funneling funds into the Palestinian Authority, optimists believe themselves justified in seeing these developments as the beginning of a viable Palestinian state. Similarly, pessimists observe the expansion of existing Israeli settlements in the West bank and increased Israeli presence in East Jerusalem as yet another example of Israeli duplicity condoned by the “Imperialist West” bent on the seizure of the valuable petrochemical resources so prized by Arab nationalists. While pundits and demagogy debate which of these views is more correct than the other, the PA is concluding deals with the usual array of French, German, and Russian, arms dealers to supply it with armored vests, armored amphibious personnel carriers, infantry weapons of all calibers and sizes, and enough ammunition to engage even the best armed military. Purely offensive in nature, these weapons signal the imminent escalation of tensions within Gaza that will prompt ever greater responses from the IDF.

According to the PA all of this firepower is necessary to enable it to effectively combat Hamas and Hezbollah radicals who continue to attack Palestinian police and its supporters within the PA. While Mahmoud Abbas continues to call for a cessation of violence at home and more aid from abroad for the construction of viable infrastructure for the new Palestinian state, potential donors and would be neighbors are frightened by the rising provenance of Islamic extremists who use Marxism-Stalinism to justify their wanton rampages through Palestinian towns and the recently abandoned Israeli settlements.

Given that the current phase of the U.S.-led war on terror will not subside for at least two more years and that economic aspirations will continue to supplant ideological considerations among the citizens of the disparate Arab states, it is not implausible to consider the possibility of a bi-lateral PA engagement of Israel within the very near future. At the moment roughly two thirds of the Palestinian population are 25 or younger almost equally divided between men and women. While most of these youths lack the skills necessary to readily assume their place within a modern high tech economy, the presence of such an economy and the requisite educational institutions within Israel could aid in the requisite deradicalization of the Palestinian public. Should the Palestinians discard the destructive ideologies of the past and finally direct their energies toward the much wanting reconciliation of the differences among the disparate Palestinian factions, the goal of peace within the Middle East would be much closer to reality than it had ever been before.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

26] Impasse and New Intifada


25] The Peace Process

Comment on the following articles:

a) Principles of a Peace Agreement-- Oslo, Norway.
b) Yitzhak Rabin, "The Price of Occupation,"
c) The Taba Negotiations

24] Transformation of Palestinian Politics

Comment on the following articles:

a) Yasser Arafat, "We recognize Israel'
b) Hannan Mikhail-Ashrawi, "The Meaning of the Intifada"
c) Charter of the Islamic resistance Movement of Palestine (Hamas)

23] Reaching for Peace: United Nations Security Council Resolutions

Chapter 23. Reaching for Peace
by Marco Mua

After the 1967 and 1973 Arab-Israeli wars, the UN passed two resolutions in order to create peace. These resolutions remain unimplemented. Also, Israel and Palestine interpret the requirements of the resolutions very differently.

UN Resolution #242 was passed in 1967. It stated that Israel must withdraw from occupied territories. The problem with establishing peace is that UN resolutions are written in ambiguous language that can be interpreted very differently from various parties. The UN did not state which territories Israel is supposed to withdraw from. Israel interprets resolution 242 as meaning that Israel has to withdraw from some but not all territories.

Israel feels that they already met the requirements of the resolution by returning the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt. Instead, the Palestinians interpret resolution 242 as requiring Israel to return the Golan Heights to Syria, and return all of the West Bank and Gaza strip to Palestinian control. I want to add that even if this UN resolution was written in less ambiguous language, it would still be irrelevant because the UN has little power to enforce their resolutions. The UN cannot even enforce their resolution pertaining to the border dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

The UN ruled that Eritrea had to give up the small and poor town of Badame to Ethiopia. Eritrea refused to give the town up, and the UN has not been able to enforce their ruling on the border dispute. If the UN cannot enforce resolutions between 2 poor African nations, then they certainly won’t have the power to resolve anything in the Middle East.

UN resolution #338 calls upon a cease-fire between Israel and Palestine. This is impossible. Palestine will continue to launch suicide bombing attacks against Israeli citizens. They will continue to do this as long as their land is occupied and their communities continue to get bulldozed by Israeli’s. Palestinians are sick of living in an open-air prison environment that resembles a refugee camp.

Many Palestinian homes are bulldozed by the Israeli military. That is what’s causing the anger. They are being humiliated by an outside force in their own land. Unless this changes, then the suicide attacks will continue. Of course, Israeli will continue to attack Palestinians since innocent Israeli’s are getting blown up on buses and in cafes. The closest these two sides came to peace was when Israeli Prime Minister Rabin recognized Palestinian self-government in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Unfortunately, Prime Minister Rabin was assassinated. Prime Minister Sharon succeeded Rabin and is a well-known hawk. Sharon has rapidly expanded Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian land, which is causing even more violence and resentment. Recently, Sharon uprooted most settlements on the Gaza strip and returned the entire Gaza strip to the Palestinians. This is not as significant as it sounds. The Palestinians gain valuable coastal land from the Israelis. However, the Israeli still control the airspace, borders, and ports. Israeli fighter jets still fly over the coastal strip. I’m guessing Israeli’s economy will continue to benefit from the Gaza strip, while Palestine will remain poor.

In conclusion, I feel the Israel/Palestinian conflict has been prolonged due to American interests in the region. As I mentioned in class, America openly supported Iraq during the 1980-1989 Iran-Iraq war. America supported Iraq, while they were secretly supporting Iran at the same time. America wanted to prolong the war and ensure that both sides would be tremendously weakened as a result of the long fighting.

The US did not want to see a winner. They wanted to prolong the war for as long as possible. The weaker the Middle-East is, the more control the US will have over valuable Middle-Eastern oil reserves. It seems to have worked for the US. The Middle-East is still underdeveloped and weak today. Especially Iran and Iraq. That allows for the US to dominate and control Middle-East oil. With that being said, I strongly believe the US has the same goal in regards to Palestine. Israel is an American weapon that is used to further weaken the oil-rich Middle-East. Israel exists in order to weaken the Middle-East and to prevent further Middle-Eastern sovereignty.

22] Arab Assertions: Out of Despair Revive Nationalism

Comment on the following articles;

a) Nizar Qabbani, 'The Catastrophe of Arab Defeat"
b) Palestinian National council, 'The National Charter"

21] The Creation of the State of Israel

Comment on the following articles:

a) UN General Assembly, "The Partition Plan: Resolution #181'
b) UN General Assembly, "Palestinian Right of Return; Resolution #191"
c) The Israeli Knesset, the Law of Return

20] Palestine on the Eve of World War II

Comment on the following articles:

a) Ted Swedenburg, "The Palestinian Revolt, 1936-1939"
b) The Arab Response to the Proposed Partition of Palestine
c) The British Government's White Paper on Palestine
d) The Biltmore Program

19] The Balfour Declaration and the Mandate Period

Comment on the articles below:

a) The Balfour Declaration: A Jewish Home in Palestine
b) The General Syrian Congress, "Our Objection to Zionism and Western Imperialism"
c) James Ramsay MacDonald, "Letter to Chaim Weizmann"
d) Vladimir Jabotinsky, "Let us Settle Palestine and Transjordan'

18] Zionism

Comment on the two articles below:

a) Theodore Herzl, Zionism: The Vision of an Eventual Jewish State
b) Rashid Rida, "Pay Attention to Zionist Encroachment,"
c) "Tiberias, " Warning of Zionist Colonization

17] Sluglett and Farouk-Sluglett, "Divide and Rule in British-Controlled Iraq"

Post comments here.

17] Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Divide India; Create Pakistan

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15] Challenges to New Nations: Afghanistan, Turkey, and the Fertile Crescent

Please post article summary and your thoughts here.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Submissive, Quiet Women Beware of Muslim Men!

Sorry for the back to back postings however, I recently utilized one of the restroom facilities on campus. Beside the paper towel dispenser was a yellow pamphlet with Arabic and English writing. The pamphlet was geared toward Muslim women: it stated that these women should not remain in a marriage and/or relationship where their husband expects them to be subservient. It stated situations of violence at the hand of a man, alledgedly condemned by the Koran does not justify her husband/boyfriend hurting her. The pamphlet stated that ovewhelmingly violence was usually the result of the woman finally feeling and exercising her need to express herself even if it went against the views her mate possessed. It endorsed the woman to seek shelter, counselors, and the police. I wanted to share this because I was impressed that there was literature available to Muslim women in Arabic pertaining to the issue of domestic abuse.

Donations to Fund Muslim Terrorists!

I recently read an article pertaining to donating to those afflicted by the multiple natural disasters in Southeast Asia. In the article, it stated that 'Americans should be cautious of donating to the victims in Southeast Asia because they may be funding Muslim terrorists.' I found this article interesting. One of the countries affected was Indonesia which has the world's largest population of Muslims. Do any of my fellow classmates feel Americans will think twice before donating due to the chance that the money could be placed in the wrong hands and used to fund terrorist acts?

'Israel and the Arabs: Elusive Peace' documentary

The documentary which we have talked about last week -in which Bush's horrendous words were included- comes on PBS alot these days. I already watched it twice from beginning to end and once from the middle onwards. I advise everyone to watch it. Although it does not deal with all the facts - and rather portrays the conflict and military capacity equally on both sides- and keeps away very important events that i find substantial to the whole issue, it is a good documentary, extensive in material and in interviews. It is divided into three parts, the first of which i found was the most accurate. Of course for everybody to understand the source of the conflict, one has to go back more than half a decade ago to explore the beginning of the end (the U.S. and British backed resolution to found Isreal, etc). There are a few good documentaries on that, but unfortunately i cannot remember any.
What i wanted to see added in the documentary (at least what i could think of right now) are simple yet devastating and globally important facts: Isreal has been bombing Palestine every single day since the rise of the 2nd intifidada. The documentary gives the sense that Isreal only retaliates against suicide bombs, which is inaccurate; the European human shields protecting Palestinians (of which one of my prevous nutty professors participated in) and the protection of Yasser Arafat (a few europeans were virtually living with him when his HQ was under siege, so that if Isreal bombs it, it will automatically become a European issue first hand), and the death of one of the most brave women i have ever heard of, the American Rachel Corrie, who died defending a Palestinian house by an Isreali BULLDOZER. It was no accident, the bulldozer just caved in while she stood firm. Of course the media never showed that, but only shows the fanatic netanyahu rallying jews infront of Congress in DC talking about terrorist palestinians.
These past facts been said, please make sure to try and watch it. The Arab-Israeli issue is one of the profound forces and primary issues in the Middle East and would be very useful in our class.
Professor, if you see this before today's class, your email is not working again. I wanted to see if you were going to come in at 5pm today. I will be on campus.