Interventions

Interventions is a feature in Middle East Report Online offering critical reviews of important Middle East-related books, films and other cultural production. Click here for past Interventions articles.

Shooting Film and Crying

by Ursula Lindsey | published March 2009

Waltz with Bashir (2008) opens with a strange and powerful image: a pack of ferocious dogs running headlong through the streets of Tel Aviv, overturning tables and terrifying pedestrians, converging beneath a building’s window to growl at a man standing there. It turns out that this man, Boaz, is an old friend of Ari Folman, the film’s director and protagonist. Like Folman, he was a teenager in the Israeli army during its 1982 invasion of Lebanon. And the pack of menacing dogs is his recurring nightmare, a nightly vision he links to the many village guard dogs he shot -- so they wouldn’t raise the alarm -- as his platoon made its way through southern Lebanon.

Interventions

Interventions is a feature in Middle East Report Online offering critical reviews of important Middle East-related books, films and other cultural production. Click here for past Interventions articles.

Recipe for a Riot

Parsing Israel's Yom Kippur Upheavals

by Peter Lagerquist | published October 2008

On October 8, 48-year old Tawfiq Jamal got into his car with his 18-year old son and a friend, and set out for the house of his relatives, the Shaaban family, who lived as of then in a new, predominantly Jewish neighborhood on the eastern edges of Acre. A walled city on the sea, mainly famed in the West for having served as the CENTCOM of the crusading Richard the Lionheart, Acre is today a “mixed” Israeli town, inhabited by Jews as well as Arabs like Tawfiq. That day, he was on his way to pick up his daughter, who had been helping the Shaabans prepare cakes for a wedding scheduled for the following week. He insists that he drove slowly and quietly, with his radio turned off.

Interventions

Interventions is a feature in Middle East Report Online offering critical reviews of important Middle East-related books, films and other cultural production. Click here for past Interventions articles.

Another Struggle

Sexual Identity Politics in an Unsettled Turkey

by Kerem Öktem | published September 2008

What happens when almost 3,000 men, women and transgender people march down the main street of a major Muslim metropolis, chanting against patriarchy, the military and restrictive public morals, waving the rainbow flag and hoisting banners decrying homophobia and demanding an end to discrimination? Or when a veiled transvestite carries a placard calling for freedom of education for women wearing the headscarf and, for transsexuals, the right to work?

Interventions

Interventions is a feature in Middle East Report Online offering critical reviews of important Middle East-related books, films and other cultural production. Click here for past Interventions articles.

Lawfare and Wearfare in Turkey

by Hilal Elver | published April 2008

With war on its eastern borders, and renewed turmoil inside them, Turkey is transfixed by something else entirely: the desire of university-age women to wear the Muslim headscarf on campus, a seemingly innocent sartorial choice that has been forbidden by the courts, off and on, since 1980. At public meetings and street demonstrations, in art exhibits, TV ads, and dance and music performances, headscarf opponents argue vociferously that removing the ban will be the first step backward to the musty old days of the Ottoman Empire. A quieter majority of 70 percent, according to a recent poll, thinks that pious students should be allowed to cover their heads, perhaps because approximately 64 percent of Turkish women do so in daily life.

Interventions

Interventions is a feature in Middle East Report Online offering critical reviews of important Middle East-related books, films and other cultural production. Click here for past Interventions articles.

The Intimate History of Collaboration

Arab Citizens and the State of Israel

by Yoav Di-Capua | published May 2007

Sometime in the late 1990s, employees in the Israeli State Archive unintentionally declassified an array of police documents. Many of the files consisted of the unremarkable personal data of prostitutes, petty thieves and black marketeers, but others dealt with a far more sensitive matter: the Palestinian Arab minority in Israel during the 1950s and 1960s. Though these “Arab files” also contained records of mundane criminal cases, most of the documents concerned the politically explosive subject of Palestinian Arab collaboration with the Jewish state. By means of the mistaken declassification, the actions, methods and goals of multiple Israeli security agencies among the Palestinian Arabs of Israel -- in short, the entire history of two decades of espionage directed at a group of Israeli citizens -- lay exposed. At the heart of these documents was detailed information about individuals and families and the well-guarded secrets of what they “gave” and what they “got” in return. Many retired collaborators are still alive.

Interventions

Interventions is a feature in Middle East Report Online offering critical reviews of important Middle East-related books, films and other cultural production. Click here for past Interventions articles.

Reel Casbah

by Peter Lagerquist , Jim Quilty | published March 2006

To live the East as film is to be in Dubai in mid-December, perched front-row in the outdoor cafés that dot the Madinat Jumeira Oriental theme park. An integrated hotel, shopping and entertainment “experience” sprawled on the city’s booming beachfront rim, the Madina and its whimsy of stucco battlements mass an Arabian fort effect plucked straight from an Indiana Jones set, and as such, the red carpets and film banners that have also come to adorn it in wintertime key a double sense of enframement. From December 11-17, 2005, the Madina hosted the second annual installment of the Dubai International Film Festival, a production whose rumored budget of $10 million has quickly distinguished it as the richest Middle Eastern event of its kind.

Interventions

Interventions is a feature in Middle East Report Online offering critical reviews of important Middle East-related books, films and other cultural production. Click here for past Interventions articles.

Paradise Now's Understated Power

by Lori Allen | published January 2006

Joining Ang Lee, director of the gay cowboy epic Brokeback Mountain, among the winners at the January 16 Golden Globes award ceremony was the director Hany Abu-Assad, a Palestinian born in Israel whose Paradise Now took home the prize for best foreign language film. While critics of all persuasions remark upon what Brokeback Mountain’s victory means about Hollywood and American mores, it is perhaps more remarkable that Paradise Now, a film about two Palestinians recruited to carry out suicide bombings, was deemed unremarkable enough to be honored by Hollywood.

Interventions

Interventions is a feature in Middle East Report Online offering critical reviews of important Middle East-related books, films and other cultural production. Click here for past Interventions articles.

Urban Violence in France

by Paul Silverstein , Chantal Tetreault | published November 2005

Dorénavant la rue ne pardonne plus                                              From now on the street will not forgive
Nous n’avons rien à perdre car nous n’avons jamais rien eu            We have nothing to lose for we have nothing

Interventions

Interventions is a feature in Middle East Report Online offering critical reviews of important Middle East-related books, films and other cultural production. Click here for past Interventions articles.

Beating a Slow, Stubborn Retreat at Guantanamo Bay

by Charles Schmitz | published May 2005

Just under a week after the collapse of the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan, President George W. Bush issued Military Order 1 to establish principles for the “ detention, treatment and trial of certain non-citizens in the war against terrorism.” The order, promulgated on November 13, 2001, was the first step in the Bush administration’s careful crafting of the term “illegal combatant” to describe a nebulous third category of detainee outside the Geneva Conventions’ clear division of prisoners into either civilians or military personnel. “Illegal combatants” were not to be accorded the protections of either the international laws of war or the laws of the United States.

Interventions

Interventions is a feature in Middle East Report Online offering critical reviews of important Middle East-related books, films and other cultural production. Click here for past Interventions articles.

Ariel Sharon and the Jordan Option

by Gary Sussman | published March 2005

An avid enthusiast of Ariel Sharon and his unilateral disengagement plan recently opined that the plan “has one inborn defect: it has no vision, has no diplomatic horizon and is devoid of any ideological dimension.” [1] This view of the Israeli prime minister -- tactically brilliant but lacking as a strategic thinker -- is common but mistaken. Sharon clearly belongs in the pantheon of master tacticians in modern politics, but he does indeed have a long-term strategy -- and disengagement fits right in.

Interventions

Interventions is a feature in Middle East Report Online offering critical reviews of important Middle East-related books, films and other cultural production. Click here for past Interventions articles.

Off the Grid

Reading Iranian Memoirs in Our Time of Total War

by Negar Mottahedeh | published September 2004

Air-conditioned transportation in Tehran is notoriously difficult to find. For pampered visitors such as the cultural anthropologists and documentary filmmakers from New York and Los Angeles who seem to converge on the Iranian capital every summer, a cool taxi ride to the northern parts of town recalls something of the charmed life they left behind in the United States, a life some refer to offhandedly as “the grid.”

Interventions

Interventions is a feature in Middle East Report Online offering critical reviews of important Middle East-related books, films and other cultural production. Click here for past Interventions articles.

The Imperial Lament

by Joel Beinin | published June 2004

Niall Ferguson, Colossus: The Price of America’s Empire (New York: Penguin Press, 2004).

There is something refreshing about British historian Niall Ferguson’s argument “not merely that the United States is an empire, but that it has always been an empire.” For a certain kind of American liberal, the Bush administration's eager invasion of Iraq has been a bad dream. The ignominious departure of US viceroy L. Paul Bremer from Baghdad on June 28, many assume, marks the beginning of the end of a grim, aberrant interlude in an otherwise innocent and idealistic US foreign policy. In contrast, Ferguson cheerily cites the work of the independent Marxist, Harry Magdoff, and the secretary of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Geir Lundestad, to establish that US armed forces were stationed in 64 countries in 1967 and that those forces conducted 168 different overseas military interventions between 1946 and 1965.

Interventions

Interventions is a feature in Middle East Report Online offering critical reviews of important Middle East-related books, films and other cultural production. Click here for past Interventions articles.

Torture and the Future

by Lisa Hajjar | published May 2004

There is a popular belief that Western history constitutes a progressive move from more to less torture. Iron maidens and racks are now museum exhibits, crucifixions are sectarian iconography and scientific experimentation on twins is History Channel infotainment. This narrative of progress deftly blends ideas about “time,” “place” and “culture.” In the popular imagination, “civilized societies” (a.k.a. “us”) do not rely on torture, whereas those societies where torture is still common remain “uncivilized,” torture being both a proof and a problem of their enduring “backwardness.”

Interventions

Interventions is a feature in Middle East Report Online offering critical reviews of important Middle East-related books, films and other cultural production. Click here for past Interventions articles.

Behind the Battles Over Middle East Studies

by Zachary Lockman | published January 2004

An ideological campaign to reshape the academic study of the Middle East in the United States has begun to bear fruit on Capitol Hill. In late 2003, the House of Representatives passed legislation which would, for the first time, mandate that university-based Middle East studies centers “foster debate on American foreign policy from diverse perspectives” if they receive federal funding under Title VI of the Higher Education Act. The new legislation, which the Senate could consider in 2004, came after conservative allegations about abuse of Title VI funding by “extreme” and “one-sided” critics of US foreign policy supposedly ensconced at area studies centers across the country.

Interventions

Interventions is a feature in Middle East Report Online offering critical reviews of important Middle East-related books, films and other cultural production. Click here for past Interventions articles.

Never Too Soon to Say Goodbye to Hi

by Elliott Colla , Chris Toensing | published September 2003

Despite its deepening troubles in Iraq, the Bush administration maintains an audaciously upbeat outward mien. From George W. Bush’s macho landing on an aircraft carrier in May to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s victory lap around the Mesopotamian battlefields in September, the song Washington sings to the world strikes a chord of triumph. No matter that most people outside US borders, and some within, hear the sound of desperation in the American anthem of the studied positive attitude. If they do not want to bask alongside the US in the afterglow of hasty battle, they must not be listening very well.