Civil Rights

American Justice, Ashcroft-Style

The Bush administration's large-scale detentions of Arab and Muslim men — without charge — and draconian immigration restrictions are only two of its initiatives to erode civil liberties, civil rights and norms of procedural justice under cover of the "war on terrorism." Many initiatives were enabled by the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act, signed into law by George W. Bush on October 26, 2001, after little public debate and no public hearing. The USA PATRIOT Act, approaching its first anniversary on the books, passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 356 to 66. Only one senator, Russell Feingold (D-WI), voted to stop it.

Land, Identity and the Limits of Resistance in the Galilee

There has never been anything abstract about the longings of the Palestinians. The object of their longing has always been well defined: the places that had been left behind in 1948. For these places were, and still are, the dominant components of the Palestinian identity. — Danny Rubinstein

Do Immigrants Have First Amendment Rights?

“War on Terrorism Hits LA,” the headline of the Los Angeles Herald Examiner screamed on January 27, 1987. The Los Angeles Eight, as the seven Palestinians and a Kenyan came to be known, are still fighting deportation today. Dangerous security risks? The Immigration and Naturalization Service said so. International terrorists? The INS still argues that the Eight were members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). These charges were partly based on secret evidence, including photos showing the Eight distributing a “subversive” magazine published in Damascus entitled Democratic Palestine.

Report from Iran

International press reports have not done justice to the complexity of recent dramatic events in Iran. What began as a genuine, spontaneous student uprising in defense of press freedoms and political reforms has now been appropriated by extremist religious paramilitaries and vigilantes aiming to discredit the students and provoke a crackdown by anti-reform elements of the regime. Khatami's call for moderation in the wake of street battles between students and security forces was not an "about face" on reform, but a demand consistent with several appeals for calm issued by leading pro-reform figures and groups, including the fledgling student "Unity Council."

“Is This Case for Real?”

Michel Shehadeh is one of the defendants in the 10-year old LA 8 case. The following are excerpts from an interview with him conducted by Joan Mandell on February 8, 1997.

You have been wanting to write something about the case. Have you always wanted to be a writer or were you motivated by the case?

When the case started, I was studying journalism at the California State at Long Beach. I had wanted to be a film director. Before I left Palestine, I wanted to be an actor. My father told me, if you have the talent you can be an actor, but you should learn a profession in case you do not make it.

On Palestinians in the Israeli Knesset

Azmi Bishara was a young rising star in the Communist Party of Israel (Rakah) for several years. Since leaving the party after the upheavals of 1989, he and other Arab intellectuals periodically considered establishing a new Arab political party with a progressive-nationalist orientation. After much debate and several false starts, al-Tajammu‘ (Democratic National Assembly) was established in March 1996, shortly before Israeli elections. Al-Tajammu‘ includes former members and supporters of the Communist Party, the Covenant of Equality (an Arab-Jewish movement founded in 1991), the Progressive Movement (including Muhammad Mi‘ari, former MK of the Progressive List for Peace), Abna’ al-Balad (Sons of the Village) and others.

Palestinian Rights in Post-Oslo Israel

Below are the proceedings of a roundtable discussion held in Nazareth, Israel, on June 24, 1996. The participants were: Aida Toma-Suliman, general director of Women Against Violence, Hala Espanioli Hazzan, chairperson of the Follow-up Committee on Arab Education in Israel, Hassan Jabareen, director of litigation for Adalah — The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, Mohammed Zeidan, coordinator of the Arab Association for Human Rights, Samar Zaidani, administrative director of the Galilee Society — the Arab National Society for Health Research Services, and Yousef Jabareen, former director of strategic planning for the Nazareth Municipality.

Women and the Women’s Equal Rights Law in Israel

Israeli society, even prior to the formation of the state, has been permeated by a strong myth of sexual equality. Shortly after the establishment of the Jewish nation-state, the Israeli Knesset began intensive debates on a body of legislation that would guide and define subsequent discourse on issues that concern the relationship between women and the state. One of those early laws, the Women’s Equal Rights Law of 1951, has had a lasting influence on the ways in which women have been incorporated into and mobilized by Israeli society. It has a direct impact on the construction of the Jewish Israeli female subject, first and foremost, as mother and wife, and not as individual or citizen.

Gender and Citizenship in Middle Eastern States

The debate on citizenship in the Middle East was preceded by and now parallels the debate on civil society. In the West, discussion on these subjects often assumes Middle Eastern countries are incapable of sustaining democratic relations between state and society. [1] The citizenship debate questions the capacities of Middle Eastern governments to allow or enable their members to participate actively in the political process. Despite the burgeoning of these debates, most theorists have neglected or glossed over the issue of gender. [2]

Disaster Area

The recent history of the struggle for human rights in the Arab world is marked by some modest success, but the task remains enormous. The region is a disaster area in terms of human rights. Irrespective of the type of government, ideological coloration or foreign policy orientation, whether pro-West or pro-Soviet, conservative or “progressive,” theocratic or secular, nearly all regimes have displayed a thorough disregard for individual human rights. Most have been reluctant to cooperate with international human rights organizations; most have made it a criminal offense to disseminate information about human rights violations inside the country or abroad; most still have not ratified treaties such as the United Nations human rights charters.

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