April 12, 2013
Femen's obsession with nudity feeds a racist colonial feminism | guardian.co.uk

International solidarity should take its cue from the women affected, not try to impose values on communities

By Chitra Nagarajan

guardian.co.uk

April 11, 2013

Another week, another heated debate over the tactics and language used by the feminist protest group Femen, which last Thursday launched an International Topless Jihad Day. The group, started in Ukraine, uses topless protest as a way to raise the profile of women’s rights. The day of action was called in response to threats received by a Tunisian Femen activist, Amina Tyler, for posting topless pictures of herself on Facebook.

With slogans such as “nudity is freedom” and statements such as “topless protests are the battle flags of women’s resistance, a symbol of a woman’s acquisition of rights over her own body”, Femen claims the removal of clothes in public as the key indicator of the realisation of women’s rights and the most effective type of activism. Everything else is seen as not radical enough and failing anyway. By these standards, countries in north Africa and the Middle East and communities from those countries living in Europe are seen to be falling far short.

It argues that it is “transforming female sexual subordination into aggression, and thereby starting the real war" by "bare breasts alone". Using your naked body can be a legitimate form of a protest of last resort – there is a long history of using naked protest and the threat of it outside Europe. However, the way it has been used by Femen feeds into and reinforces a racist and orientalist discourse about the women and men of north Africa and the Middle East. With statements such as “as a society, we haven’t been able to eradicate our Arab mentality towards women”, Femen positions women of the region as veiled and oppressed by their men as opposed to the enlightened and liberated women of the west who live in a developed and superior society where they have the “freedom” to remove their clothes.

We know this is not true. Black women (and I’m using black as a political term to denote shared and continued experiences of racism and colonisation) are not all (and only) oppressed and black men are not all oppressors. Women in Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand do not live in a feminist utopia. There continue to be active and vibrant women’s rights movements in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The feminist story belongs to all women, everywhere.

Femen’s actions also come at a time of intensifying international backlash against women’s rights that is increasingly being framed, perpetuated and accepted by male elites as rooted in “the west” and imposed on other countries in a form of cultural imperialism. Unfortunately, statements from white French women saying things like “better naked than the burqa” feed this narrative and are more likely to damage rather than support the struggles of the women they call their sisters.

Its defenders may say that Femen means well but having good intentions is far from enough. There is a long and problematic history of colonial feminism and the “good intentions” of outsiders using racialised notions to “save women over there”. This actively causes harm, including when communities react to this by holding on to static notions of “culture” and “tradition” in the face of outside challenge as a way to resist colonialism and racism. Women’s rights becomes the battleground with feminists from these communities and countries often left in a double bind, stuck between trying to reject racist ideas of black men and communities and challenging their attitudes.

We need a politics of international feminist solidarity that integrates a gender, race and post-colonial power analysis and takes its cue from the women affected and those who are already challenging gender inequality. As I have argued elsewhere, a more holistic and nuanced approach would consider how patriarchy combines with racism, neo-colonialism and global capitalism to create a fundamentally unjust world. We need to think about how our decisions, from where we shop to the issues about which we remain silent, affect the lives of women and girls in other countries.

Femen has continued to be unapologetic about its tactics and language and refused to address its blatant racism. When you are criticised by those “for” whom you are meant to be working, the response should be to think critically on your actions. Its latest piece offers no self-reflection or attempt to acknowledge criticism from women’s rights activists from the region, only self-aggrandisement. To paraphrase Gayatri Spivak, white women will not save black women from black men. The role of feminists from outside should be to support the work of the women in the communities concerned, not add to the problem. International feminist solidarity is crucial but this is not the way to do it. A true ally does not use racism to attempt to defeat patriarchy.

Copyright © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited.

February 15, 2013
"We thank you, dearest white savior, for neglecting to address the ‘war on women’ in your own region, in order to watch us, the women of the Middle East, progress. Shamefully, we have not yet even begun to repay you for freeing us from bondage with your bullets and uranium tipped bombs in places such as Iraq, Yemen, Pakistan and Afghanistan. We are forever indebted."

Colonialism Feminism. An excerpt from the famous and most excellent letter to Mona Eltahawy. It’s not recent but it always remain relevant.

Go on. Save us.

(via mehreenkasana)

February 5, 2013
54 countries helped CIA to kidnap, detain and torture – report | RT
February 5, 2013
At least 54 countries including Syria, Iran, Sweden, Iceland, and UK offered CIA “covert support” to detain, transport, interrogate and torture suspects in the years following the 9/11 attacks, according to a new report.
­The 213-page report released by the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI), a New York-based human rights organization, documents wide-ranging international involvement in the American campaign against Al-Qaeda.
The report, titled Globalizing Torture, provides a detailed account of other countries covertly helping the US to run secret prisons, also known as ‘black sites’ on their territory and allowing the CIA to use national airports for refueling while transporting prisoners.
Countries listed in the report include many from the Middle East and Europe.
The OSJI identifies Syria and Iran as two participants of the CIA’s rendition program.
“Syria detained, interrogated, and tortured extraordinarily-rendered individuals. It was one of the ‘most common destinations for rendered suspects’,” states the report. “The CIA rendered at least nine individuals to Syria between December 2001 and October 2002.”
Syria also had detention facilities that were used by the CIA, where “detainees report incidents of torture involving a chair frame used to stretch the spine (the ‘German chair’) and beatings.”
Iran has helped CIA by handing over 15 individuals to Kabul, after the US invasion of Afghanistan, knowing that they would be placed under the US control.
In Egypt, Pakistan, Libya, Jordan, Afghanistan, Malawi and Morocco the existence of secret prisons and the use of torture are documented.
The report describes Egypt as “the country to which the greatest numbers of rendered suspects have been sent [by the US].” Many suspects held in Egypt described having been tortured.
Pakistan is said to have detained 672 alleged Al-Qaeda members and transferred 369 to Afghanistan and/or to Guantanamo Bay.
There are grave reports of torture documented in Morocco. Detainees described torture over several months. One individual, Binyam Mohamed, was transferred by the CIA to Morocco in July 2002, “where his interrogators broke his bones while beating him, sliced his genitals, poured hot liquid onto his penis while cutting it, and threatened him with rape, electrocution and death.”
The list also includes states such as Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Iceland, Finland, Denmark, Belgium, Austria, Greece and Cyprus. All of the above secretly helped the CIA by granting the use of their airspace and airports for aircraft involved in rendition flights.
Canada is identified as going beyond that and providing the CIA with information about one of its nationals that led to his capture, detention and rendition to Syria.
European countries such as the UK, Sweden and Italy even helped to apprehend individuals, interrogate and transfer them.
Countries such as France, the Netherlands, Hungary and Russia are not listed at all.
Report locates ‘black sites’
States such as Poland, Lithuania and Romania are accused of accommodating secret prisons on their territories.
Poland is said to have “hosted a secret CIA prison on its territory, assisted with the transfer of secretly detained individuals in and out of Poland, including to other secret detention sites, and permitted the use of its airspace and airports for such transfers,” according to the report.
A CIA-run prison was discovered in a small Polish remote village Stare Kiejkuty, which was operational from December 2002 to the fall of 2003. It was used to transport suspected Al-Qaeda members outside US territory to interrogate them without having to adhere to US law.
The Polish government began an investigation into the secret prison in 2008. It is the second country to have opened a criminal investigation into the matter, after Lithuania (though that case has since been closed).
A secret CIA prison in Romania was revealed by Human Rights Watch in November 2005. The report notes CIA planes ‘dropping off’ detainees and leaving.
“The CIA brokered ‘operating agreements’ with the Government…of Romania to hold ‘high value detainees’ on a secret detention facility on Romanian territory.”
Romanian authorities have denied any existence of a secret CIA prison.
In Lithuania the secret prison is said to have held “up to eight ‘high value detainees’ at the facility until late 2005.” The prison was located in Antaviliai, about 20km from the capital, Vilnius, and owned by Elite LLC, a former CIA front company.
Villagers living close to the site reported that “English-speaking construction workers brought shipping containers filled with building materials to the site, and built a large, two-story building without windows, ringed by a metal fence and security cameras.”
Report’s goals
The OSJI argues that the US could not have carried out its covert operations without the support of other countries and those who helped the US should be held accountable.
"But responsibility for these violations does not end with the United States. Secret detention and extraordinary rendition operations, designed to be conducted outside the United States under cover of secrecy, could not have been implemented without the active participation of foreign governments. These governments too must be held accountable,” the report states.
In addition, the report identifies 136 people who were detained or transferred by the CIA and specifies when and where the prisoners were held, creating the largest list in existence today.
The goal of OSJI is to force US to end the rendition program, terminate all of its remaining secret prisons, and open a criminal investigation into human rights abuses.
Also, the report calls upon other countries to stop their covert support of CIA programs and to hold past participants responsible.
Copyright © 2013 Autonomous Nonprofit Organization “TV-Novosti”.
[Image: An IKONOS satellite image of a facility near Kabul, Afghanistan taken on July 17, 2003. A Washington Post on November 2, 2005 refers to this facility as the largest CIA covert prison in Afghanistan, code-named the Salt Pit. (© Reuters/Space Imaging Middle East)]

54 countries helped CIA to kidnap, detain and torture – report | RT

February 5, 2013

At least 54 countries including Syria, Iran, Sweden, Iceland, and UK offered CIA “covert support” to detain, transport, interrogate and torture suspects in the years following the 9/11 attacks, according to a new report.

­The 213-page report released by the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI), a New York-based human rights organization, documents wide-ranging international involvement in the American campaign against Al-Qaeda.

The report, titled Globalizing Torture, provides a detailed account of other countries covertly helping the US to run secret prisons, also known as ‘black sites’ on their territory and allowing the CIA to use national airports for refueling while transporting prisoners.

Countries listed in the report include many from the Middle East and Europe.

The OSJI identifies Syria and Iran as two participants of the CIA’s rendition program.

“Syria detained, interrogated, and tortured extraordinarily-rendered individuals. It was one of the ‘most common destinations for rendered suspects’,” states the report. “The CIA rendered at least nine individuals to Syria between December 2001 and October 2002.”

Syria also had detention facilities that were used by the CIA, where “detainees report incidents of torture involving a chair frame used to stretch the spine (the ‘German chair’) and beatings.”

Iran has helped CIA by handing over 15 individuals to Kabul, after the US invasion of Afghanistan, knowing that they would be placed under the US control.

In Egypt, Pakistan, Libya, Jordan, Afghanistan, Malawi and Morocco the existence of secret prisons and the use of torture are documented.

The report describes Egypt as “the country to which the greatest numbers of rendered suspects have been sent [by the US].” Many suspects held in Egypt described having been tortured.

Pakistan is said to have detained 672 alleged Al-Qaeda members and transferred 369 to Afghanistan and/or to Guantanamo Bay.

There are grave reports of torture documented in Morocco. Detainees described torture over several months. One individual, Binyam Mohamed, was transferred by the CIA to Morocco in July 2002, “where his interrogators broke his bones while beating him, sliced his genitals, poured hot liquid onto his penis while cutting it, and threatened him with rape, electrocution and death.”

The list also includes states such as Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Iceland, Finland, Denmark, Belgium, Austria, Greece and Cyprus. All of the above secretly helped the CIA by granting the use of their airspace and airports for aircraft involved in rendition flights.

Canada is identified as going beyond that and providing the CIA with information about one of its nationals that led to his capture, detention and rendition to Syria.

European countries such as the UK, Sweden and Italy even helped to apprehend individuals, interrogate and transfer them.

Countries such as France, the Netherlands, Hungary and Russia are not listed at all.

Report locates ‘black sites’

States such as Poland, Lithuania and Romania are accused of accommodating secret prisons on their territories.

Poland is said to have “hosted a secret CIA prison on its territory, assisted with the transfer of secretly detained individuals in and out of Poland, including to other secret detention sites, and permitted the use of its airspace and airports for such transfers,” according to the report.

A CIA-run prison was discovered in a small Polish remote village Stare Kiejkuty, which was operational from December 2002 to the fall of 2003. It was used to transport suspected Al-Qaeda members outside US territory to interrogate them without having to adhere to US law.

The Polish government began an investigation into the secret prison in 2008. It is the second country to have opened a criminal investigation into the matter, after Lithuania (though that case has since been closed).

A secret CIA prison in Romania was revealed by Human Rights Watch in November 2005. The report notes CIA planes ‘dropping off’ detainees and leaving.

“The CIA brokered ‘operating agreements’ with the Government…of Romania to hold ‘high value detainees’ on a secret detention facility on Romanian territory.”

Romanian authorities have denied any existence of a secret CIA prison.

In Lithuania the secret prison is said to have held “up to eight ‘high value detainees’ at the facility until late 2005.” The prison was located in Antaviliai, about 20km from the capital, Vilnius, and owned by Elite LLC, a former CIA front company.

Villagers living close to the site reported that “English-speaking construction workers brought shipping containers filled with building materials to the site, and built a large, two-story building without windows, ringed by a metal fence and security cameras.”

Report’s goals

The OSJI argues that the US could not have carried out its covert operations without the support of other countries and those who helped the US should be held accountable.

"But responsibility for these violations does not end with the United States. Secret detention and extraordinary rendition operations, designed to be conducted outside the United States under cover of secrecy, could not have been implemented without the active participation of foreign governments. These governments too must be held accountable,” the report states.

In addition, the report identifies 136 people who were detained or transferred by the CIA and specifies when and where the prisoners were held, creating the largest list in existence today.

The goal of OSJI is to force US to end the rendition program, terminate all of its remaining secret prisons, and open a criminal investigation into human rights abuses.

Also, the report calls upon other countries to stop their covert support of CIA programs and to hold past participants responsible.

Copyright © 2013 Autonomous Nonprofit Organization “TV-Novosti”.

[Image: An IKONOS satellite image of a facility near Kabul, Afghanistan taken on July 17, 2003. A Washington Post on November 2, 2005 refers to this facility as the largest CIA covert prison in Afghanistan, code-named the Salt Pit. (© Reuters/Space Imaging Middle East)]

February 3, 2013
Orientalism and Middle East Feminist Studies by Lila Abu-Lughod

muslimwomeninhistory:

“In this essay I consider four ways in which Said’s work has had an impact. First, Orientalism opened up the possibility for others to go further than Said had in exploring the gender and sexuality of Orientalist discourse itself. Second, the book provided a strong rationale for burgeoning historical and anthropological research that claimed to be going beyong stereotypes of the Muslim or Middle Eastern woman and gender relations in general. Third, the historical recovery of feminism in the Middle East, emerging from this new abundance of research has, in turn, stimulated a reexamination of that central issue in Orientalism: East/West politics. Finally, Said’s stance, that one cannot divorce political engagement from scholarship, has presented Middle East gender studies and debates about feminism with some especially knotty problems, highlighting the peculiar ways that feminist critique is situated in a global context.

January 20, 2013
And the winner is … Islamophobia | The Guardian
The moral ambiguity of Homeland or Argo is a fitting tribute to the reality of US Middle East policy
By Rachel Shabi
The Guardian
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
America’s Middle East policy has been enthusiastically endorsed. Not at the UN or Arab League, however, but by the powerbrokers of Hollywood. At the Golden Globes, there were gongs for a heroically bearded CIA spook saving hostages and American face in Iran (the film Argo); a heroically struggling agent tracking down Bin Laden (Zero Dark Thirty) and heroically flawed CIA operatives protecting America from mindless, perpetual terror (TV series Homeland).
The three winners have all been sold as complex, nuanced productions that don’t shy away from hard truths about US foreign policy. And liberal audiences can’t get enough of them. Perhaps it’s because, alongside the odd bit of self-criticism, they are all so reassuringly insistent that, in an increasingly complicated world, America just keeps on doing the right thing. And even when it does the wrong thing – such as, I don’t know, torture and drone strikes and deadly invasions – it is to combat far greater evil, and therefore OK.
When I saw Argo in London with a Turkish friend, we were the only ones not clapping at the end. Instead, we were wondering why every Iranian in this horribly superior film was so angry and shouty. It was a tense, meticulously styled depiction of America’s giant, perpetual, wailing question mark over the Middle East: “Why do they hate us?” Iranians are so irked by the historically flimsy retelling of the hostage crisis that their government has commissioned its own version in response.
Zero Dark Thirty, another blanked-out, glossed-up portrayal of US policy, seems to imply that America’s use of torture – sorry, “enhanced interrogation” – is legitimate because it led to the capture of Osama bin Laden (something that John McCain and others have pointed out is not even true). Adding insult to moral bankruptcy, the movie has been cast as a feminist film, because it has a smart female lead. This is cinematic fraud: a device used to extort our approval.
Homeland was no better. It is the story of an American marine taken captive by a top al-Qaida terrorist who turns out, wouldn’t you know, to be Palestinian. Tortured while detained (though I’m guessing this would be bad torture, not the good kind used in Zero Dark Thirty), the marine turns to Islam and, coincidentally, to terror. Meanwhile, all the Arab and Muslim characters in Homeland – however successful, integrated, clever, whatever – are all somehow signed up to the global terror network. As Laila Al-Arian, a journalist and co-author of Collateral Damage: America’s War against Iraqi Civilians, puts it: “Viewers are left to believe that Muslims/Arabs participate in terrorist networks like Americans send holiday cards.” She describes this celebrated Golden Globe winner as “TV’s most Islamophobic show”.
When challenged, the creators of these travesties respond with pat dismissal: the director Kathryn Bigelow pointed out that Zero Dark Thirty is "just a movie". Ben Affleck has spoken touchingly of his concern that Argo might be politicised.
But why would these renditions of US policy be seen in the Middle East as anything other than attempts to seize the moral high ground? It’s all supposed to be a massive stride forward in the portrayal of complexity, made to challenge American audience preconceptions – and a far cry from the bad old days depicted in Reel Bad Arabs, a documentary that shows how Hollywood caricatures Arabs as “belly dancers, billionaire sheikhs and bombers”, according to one reviewer.
But such slick, award-winning cinema isn’t about nuance, it’s just self-serving moral ambiguity – and in this sense it is a fitting cultural reflection of actual US policy in the Middle East.
Copyright © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited. All rights reserved.
[Photograph © Allstar/WARNER BROS. PICTURES/Sportsphoto Ltd./Allstar]

And the winner is … Islamophobia | The Guardian

The moral ambiguity of Homeland or Argo is a fitting tribute to the reality of US Middle East policy

By Rachel Shabi

The Guardian

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

America’s Middle East policy has been enthusiastically endorsed. Not at the UN or Arab League, however, but by the powerbrokers of Hollywood. At the Golden Globes, there were gongs for a heroically bearded CIA spook saving hostages and American face in Iran (the film Argo); a heroically struggling agent tracking down Bin Laden (Zero Dark Thirty) and heroically flawed CIA operatives protecting America from mindless, perpetual terror (TV series Homeland).

The three winners have all been sold as complex, nuanced productions that don’t shy away from hard truths about US foreign policy. And liberal audiences can’t get enough of them. Perhaps it’s because, alongside the odd bit of self-criticism, they are all so reassuringly insistent that, in an increasingly complicated world, America just keeps on doing the right thing. And even when it does the wrong thing – such as, I don’t know, torture and drone strikes and deadly invasions – it is to combat far greater evil, and therefore OK.

When I saw Argo in London with a Turkish friend, we were the only ones not clapping at the end. Instead, we were wondering why every Iranian in this horribly superior film was so angry and shouty. It was a tense, meticulously styled depiction of America’s giant, perpetual, wailing question mark over the Middle East: “Why do they hate us?” Iranians are so irked by the historically flimsy retelling of the hostage crisis that their government has commissioned its own version in response.

Zero Dark Thirty, another blanked-out, glossed-up portrayal of US policy, seems to imply that America’s use of torture – sorry, “enhanced interrogation” – is legitimate because it led to the capture of Osama bin Laden (something that John McCain and others have pointed out is not even true). Adding insult to moral bankruptcy, the movie has been cast as a feminist film, because it has a smart female lead. This is cinematic fraud: a device used to extort our approval.

Homeland was no better. It is the story of an American marine taken captive by a top al-Qaida terrorist who turns out, wouldn’t you know, to be Palestinian. Tortured while detained (though I’m guessing this would be bad torture, not the good kind used in Zero Dark Thirty), the marine turns to Islam and, coincidentally, to terror. Meanwhile, all the Arab and Muslim characters in Homeland – however successful, integrated, clever, whatever – are all somehow signed up to the global terror network. As Laila Al-Arian, a journalist and co-author of Collateral Damage: America’s War against Iraqi Civilians, puts it: “Viewers are left to believe that Muslims/Arabs participate in terrorist networks like Americans send holiday cards.” She describes this celebrated Golden Globe winner as “TV’s most Islamophobic show”.

When challenged, the creators of these travesties respond with pat dismissal: the director Kathryn Bigelow pointed out that Zero Dark Thirty is "just a movie". Ben Affleck has spoken touchingly of his concern that Argo might be politicised.

But why would these renditions of US policy be seen in the Middle East as anything other than attempts to seize the moral high ground? It’s all supposed to be a massive stride forward in the portrayal of complexity, made to challenge American audience preconceptions – and a far cry from the bad old days depicted in Reel Bad Arabs, a documentary that shows how Hollywood caricatures Arabs as “belly dancers, billionaire sheikhs and bombers”, according to one reviewer.

But such slick, award-winning cinema isn’t about nuance, it’s just self-serving moral ambiguity – and in this sense it is a fitting cultural reflection of actual US policy in the Middle East.

Copyright © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited. All rights reserved.

[Photograph © Allstar/WARNER BROS. PICTURES/Sportsphoto Ltd./Allstar]

January 6, 2013
The Gravest Threat to World Peace | Information Clearing House

By Noam Chomsky

January 4, 2013

Information Clearing House

Reporting on the final U.S. presidential campaign debate, on foreign policy, The Wall Street Journal observed that “the only country mentioned more (than Israel) was Iran, which is seen by most nations in the Middle East as the gravest security threat to the region.”

The two candidates agreed that a nuclear Iran is the gravest threat to the region, if not the world, as Romney explicitly maintained, reiterating a conventional view.

On Israel, the candidates vied in declaring their devotion to it, but Israeli officials were nevertheless unsatisfied. They had “hoped for more ‘aggressive’ language from Mr. Romney,” according to the reporters. It was not enough that Romney demanded that Iran not be permitted to “reach a point of nuclear capability.”

Arabs were dissatisfied too, because Arab fears about Iran were “debated through the lens of Israeli security instead of the region’s,” while Arab concerns were largely ignored – again the conventional treatment.

The Journal article, like countless others on Iran, leaves critical questions unanswered, among them: Who exactly sees Iran as the gravest security threat? And what do Arabs (and most of the world) think can be done about the threat, whatever they take it to be?

The first question is easily answered. The “Iranian threat” is overwhelmingly a Western obsession, shared by Arab dictators, though not Arab populations.

As numerous polls have shown, although citizens of Arab countries generally dislike Iran, they do not regard it as a very serious threat. Rather, they perceive the threat to be Israel and the United States; and many, sometimes considerable majorities, regard Iranian nuclear weapons as a counter to these threats.

In high places in the U.S., some concur with the Arab populations’ perception, among them Gen. Lee Butler, former head of the Strategic Command. In 1998 he said, “It is dangerous in the extreme that in the cauldron of animosities that we call the Middle East,” one nation, Israel, should have a powerful nuclear weapons arsenal, which “inspires other nations to do so.”

Still more dangerous is the nuclear-deterrent strategy of which Butler was a leading designer for many years. Such a strategy, he wrote in 2002, is “a formula for unmitigated catastrophe,” and he called on the United States and other nuclear powers to accept their commitment under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to make “good faith” efforts to eliminate the plague of nuclear weapons.

Nations have a legal obligation to pursue such efforts seriously, the World Court ruled in 1996: “There exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control.” In 2002, George W. Bush’s administration declared that the United States is not bound by the obligation.

A large majority of the world appears to share Arab views on the Iranian threat. The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) has vigorously supported Iran’s right to enrich uranium, most recently at its summit meeting in Tehran last August.

India, the most populous member of the NAM, has found ways to evade the onerous U.S. financial sanctions on Iran. Plans are proceeding to link Iran’s Chabahar port, refurbished with Indian assistance, to Central Asia through Afghanistan. Trade relations are also reported to be increasing. Were it not for strong U.S. pressures, these natural relations would probably improve substantially.

China, which has observer status at the NAM, is doing much the same. China is expanding development projects westward, including initiatives to reconstitute the old Silk Road from China to Europe. A high-speed rail line connects China to Kazakhstan and beyond. The line will presumably reach Turkmenistan, with its rich energy resources, and will probably link with Iran and extend to Turkey and Europe.

China has also taken over the major Gwadar port in Pakistan, enabling it to obtain oil from the Middle East while avoiding the Hormuz and Malacca straits, which are clogged with traffic and U.S.-controlled. The Pakistani press reports that “Crude oil imports from Iran, the Arab Gulf states and Africa could be transported overland to northwest China through the port.”

At its Tehran summit in August, the NAM reiterated the long-standing proposal to mitigate or end the threat of nuclear weapons in the Middle East by establishing a zone free of weapons of mass destruction. Moves in that direction are clearly the most straightforward and least onerous way to overcome the threats. They are supported by almost the entire world.

A fine opportunity to carry such measures forward arose last month, when an international conference was planned on the matter in Helsinki.

A conference did take place, but not the one that was planned. Only nongovernmental organizations participated in the alternate conference, hosted by the Peace Union of Finland. The planned international conference was canceled by Washington in November, shortly after Iran agreed to attend.

The Obama administration’s official reason was “political turmoil in the region and Iran’s defiant stance on nonproliferation,” the Associated Press reported, along with lack of consensus “on how to approach the conference.” That reason is the approved reference to the fact that the region’s only nuclear power, Israel, refused to attend, calling the request to do so “coercion.”

Apparently, the Obama administration is keeping to its earlier position that “conditions are not right unless all members of the region participate.” The United States will not allow measures to place Israel’s nuclear facilities under international inspection. Nor will the U.S. release information on “the nature and scope of Israeli nuclear facilities and activities.”

The Kuwait news agency immediately reported that “the Arab group of states and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) member states agreed to continue lobbying for a conference on establishing a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction.”

Last month, the U.N. General Assembly passed a resolution calling on Israel to join the NPT, 174-6. Voting no was the usual contingent: Israel, the United States, Canada, Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau.

A few days later, the United States carried out a nuclear weapons test, again banning international inspectors from the test site in Nevada. Iran protested, as did the mayor of Hiroshima and some Japanese peace groups.

Establishment of a nuclear weapons-free zone of course requires the cooperation of the nuclear powers: In the Middle East, that would include the United States and Israel, which refuse. The same is true elsewhere. Such zones in Africa and the Pacific await implementation because the U.S. insists on maintaining and upgrading nuclear weapons bases on islands it controls.

As the NGO meeting convened in Helsinki, a dinner took place in New York under the auspices of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, an offshoot of the Israeli lobby.

According to an enthusiastic report on the “gala” in the Israeli press, Dennis Ross, Elliott Abrams and other “former top advisers to Obama and Bush” assured the audience that “the president will strike (Iran) next year if diplomacy doesn’t succeed” – a most attractive holiday gift.

Americans can hardly be aware of how diplomacy has once again failed, for a simple reason: Virtually nothing is reported in the United States about the fate of the most obvious way to address “the gravest threat” – Establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.

Copyright © 2012 Noam Chomsky.

Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate.

December 30, 2012

November 25, 2012
The Scholars By Ludwig Deutsch, 1901

The Scholars By Ludwig Deutsch, 1901

February 12, 2012
Reconceiving Middle Eastern Manhood | berfrois
By Marcia Inhorn
February 9, 2012
Male infertility is one of the world’s best-kept  secrets. Few people realize that male infertility contributes to more  than half of all cases of childlessness worldwide. In the Middle Eastern  region where I work, the rates of male infertility are even higher,  60-70% of all cases, with very severe forms that are probably genetic in  origin and related to consanguineous, or cousin marriage.
Since 2003, I have been studying male infertility in the  Middle East and Arab America, interviewing more than 330 Arab men from a  variety of countries, primarily Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Iraq,  Yemen and the United Arab Emirates. In all of these cases, men were  undergoing assisted reproduction, particularly intracytoplasmic sperm  injection, or ICSI, a variant of IVF designed in the early 1990s to  overcome male infertility. Since 1994, when ICSI first arrived in Egypt,  demand for this assisted reproductive technology has skyrocketed.  Having spent hundreds of hours talking to both fertile and infertile men  Middle Eastern IVF clinics, I argue that it is time to “reconceive  Middle Eastern manhood.” This is an argument that runs throughout my  latest book, to be published by Princeton University Press in March  2012, entitled The New Arab Man: Emergent Masculinities, Technologies, and Islam in the Middle East. In this book, I argue that reconceiving Middle Eastern manhood requires  scholarship that brings men back into the reproductive imaginary as  progenitors, partners, decision makers, protectors, friends, companions,  nurturers, lovers, fathers and sentient human beings.
My own research shows that Middle Eastern men are often  heavily involved and invested in many aspects of the reproductive  process, from impregnation to parenting. In many cases, these men bear  little resemblance to the stereotypical Middle Eastern man brought to us  by the Western media. Indeed, since September 11th, 2001,  Middle Eastern Muslim men have been particularly vilified as terrorists,  religious zealots and brutal oppressors of women. The feminist  assertion that the Middle East is “the seat of patriarchy” now seems to  me patently unfair and outdated. Unseating patriarchy in the Middle East  means rethinking our own feminist scholarly polemics—mine included—as  the reality of men’s lives is revealed.
In my new work, I am arguing for recognition of Middle Eastern men’s emergent masculinities,  a term that attempts to capture all that is new and transformative in  men’s embodied personhood. Men in the Middle East today are enacting  masculinity in ways that defy both patriarchy and neo-Orientalist  stereotypes. I would like to describe what I see as some of the basic  features of these “emergent masculinities” in the Middle East, as we  enter the 21st century.
But first, we must define “emergence.” In his essay “Dominant,  Residual, Emergent,” Marxist scholar Raymond Williams defined emergence  as “new meanings and values, new practices, new relationships and kinds  of relationship [that] are continually being created.”  When  applied to new forms of manhood, emergent masculinities encapsulate  change over the male life course as men age; change over the generations  as male youth grow to adulthood; and changes in social history that  involve men in transformative social processes. In addition, emergent  masculinities highlight new forms of masculine practice that accompany  these social trends. These would include, for example, men’s desire to  “date” their partners before marriage; men’s acceptance of condoms and  vasectomy as forms of male birth control; men’s desires to live in  nuclear family residences with their wives and children; and men’s  encouragement of daughters’ education.  All of these masculine practices  are, in fact, emerging in the Middle East, but are rarely noticed by  scholars or media pundits.
The “emergent” is omnipresent in the Middle East. The region now hosts, inter alia, the world’s tallest building and other architectural marvels; a global  satellite television culture headlined by the homegrown product, Al Jazeera;  internet cafes frequented by youth; a mass cell phone culture even  among domestic servants and day laborers; multi-storey shopping malls  selling European designer labels, as well as local Islamic fashions;  rates of university matriculation among women now outstripping those of  men; entrance of large numbers of women into the government bureaucracy  and retail service sector; mass migration of men to the Arab Gulf and to  virtually every other continent; concomitant delays in marriage, as  young men and women “establish” themselves in new careers, new nuclear  residences, and new lives different from their parents; and emerging  social movements, including recent protest movements against dictatorial  regimes, which have been largely initiated by younger-generation men  and which have spread like wildfire across the region. In short, a  veritable “revolution” in men’s and women’s social worlds—and their  interactions with each other—is abundantly observable across the Middle  Eastern region and requires scholarly attention.
What have I found in my own research? First of all, Middle Eastern  men work hard, often emigrating for periods of their lives, in order to  eventually marry and set up a nuclear family household. They desire  romantic love, companionship, and sexual passion within a life-long,  monogamous marriage surrounded by a sphere of conjugal privacy.  Fatherhood of two to four children—a mixture of sons and desired  daughters—is wanted as much for joy and happiness as for patrilineal  continuity, patriarchal power, or old-age security.
If infertility threatens fatherhood, it is typically viewed as a  medical condition to be overcome through invasive forms of high-tech  assisted reproduction, rather than as a sign of diminished manhood.  Today, male infertility is being equated with other emerging diseases  such as diabetes, which are deemed hereditary, and thus beyond men’s  individual control. In a region with high rates of male infertility, men  often have friends and male relatives who are struggling with  infertility. The modern-day treatment quest—which often includes  repeated semen analysis, clinic-based masturbation, testicular  needlework, genital surgeries, and other forms of embodied agony—is  men’s badge of honor, signifying the ways men suffer for reproduction  and love. Their feelings of sympathy and sacrifice—of doing all of this “for her”—are prominent motivating factors in emergent marital subjectivities in the Middle East today.
ICSI being performed in a Beirut IVF clinic
Gender scripts surrounding conjugality are also being reworked in complex ways as ICSI  and other assisted reproductive technologies reach wider and wider  audiences in the Middle Eastern region. The very growth of a booming  Middle Eastern IVF industry—for example, with nearly 250 IVF clinics  between the three Middle Eastern countries of Turkey, Iran, and  Egypt—bespeaks not only regional pronatalism, but also the physical,  financial, and emotional commitments of thousands upon thousands of  married couples. Increasingly, Middle Eastern couples are remaining  together in long-term childless marriages, while trying repeated rounds  of IVF and ICSI in the hopes of achieving parenthood.
When these assisted reproductive technologies fail, as they often do,  some men are turning to third-party reproductive assistance, especially  egg donation, to overcome their wives’ infertility. Accessing donor  eggs may require reproductive “tourism” (aka cross-border reproductive  care), as well as the services of traveling foreign egg donors who may,  in fact, be American. Shia Muslim men in particular have been permitted  to employ gamete donation by male Shia clerics, who themselves may be  agents of moral change.  Even sperm donation—a globally stigmatized  technology still shrouded in secrecy—has been authorized by at least one  prominent Shia fatwa. As a result, it is now being employed by some men in two Middle Eastern countries, Iran and Lebanon.
Middle Eastern men who are resorting to gamete donation are not only  Shia Muslims.  Indeed, Sunni Muslim, Druze, and Christian men are  challenging religious orthodoxies—sometimes “going against the  religion”—to pursue assisted reproductive technologies that have been  religiously forbidden to them. Resisting religious authority takes great  moral courage, especially when certain aspects of these technologies  have been deemed sinful (even sending one to hell). Whereas some Sunni  Muslim men are defying the Sunni ban on gamete donation, Middle Eastern  Catholic men are rejecting the Vatican’s ban on all forms of assisted  reproduction.  This includes male Catholic IVF physicians in Lebanon,  who are followed the Shia lead in now offering both IVF/ICSI and gamete  donation to their patients. Middle Eastern Christian men, whose voices  are rarely heard in popular and scholarly discourses, have been among  the most prominent advocates of both gamete donation and adoption, as  ways to build a family.  Sunni Muslim men, too, are considering adoption  and egg donation as alternative forms of family formation. Shia Muslim  men, for their part, are major participants in the support and fostering  of orphans.
In short, Middle Eastern men, both Muslim and Christian, are living  moral lives with and without religious guidance. They are enacting  joyful marital relations with and without children. And they are  embracing new reproductive technologies with and without third-party  reproductive assistance.  These changes in men’s attitudes,  expectations, and practices of manhood and family life are indicative of  what is being called “ideational change” across the Middle East. To  wit, total fertility rates have fallen across the region,nuclear  families are becoming the socially accepted norm, levels of education  for both men and women, but especially women, are rising, and  assumptions about son preference and men’s patriarchal rights are being  questioned.  This “new Arab family”—to use the term coined by  anthropologist Nicholas Hopkins—no longer resembles the Middle Eastern  family of a generation ago.  These emergent changes in family life are  being followed by several Middle Eastern anthropologists, who have  formed the “Arab Families Working Group” (AFWG) led by pioneering  Lebanese-American scholar Suad Joseph.
Just as these anthropologists are speaking of “the new Arab family,” I would like to coin the term the new Arab man.   New Arab men are rejecting the assumptions of their Arab forefathers,  including what I call the four notorious P’s—patriarchy, patrilineality,  patrilocality, and polygyny. According to the men in my studies, these  four P’s are becoming a thing of the past. Instead, emergent  masculinities in the Middle East are characterized by resistance to  patriarchy, patrilineality, and patrilocality, which are being  undermined. Polygyny is truly rare, less than 1% in most Middle Eastern  societies, just as it has been throughout history. Certainly, polygyny  is not a common strategy today to overcome childlessness, nor a social  norm that contemporary Middle Eastern men strive for. Although most  Middle Eastern men want to father their own children, taking a second  wife is not viewed as “the solution” to infertility. Instead, men seek  to help their infertile wives find appropriate treatment. Middle Eastern  men today also realize that they themselves may be infertile.
These new Arab men are essentially changing their  personal lives, interjecting new notions of manhood, gender relations,  and intimate subjectivities into their ways of being. These emergent  masculinities defy conventional gender stereotypes, can be found across  faith traditions, challenge prevailing moral authorities, and employ  emerging technoscientific innovations. I would like to argue that  assisted reproduction, too, is changing the Middle East in unprecedented  ways, creating many new possibilities for marital, gender, and family  relations. Assisted reproduction has brought with it hopes and dreams  for the high numbers of infertile men in the Middle East, in a region  that can now boast one of the strongest and largest assisted  reproduction industries in the world.
Indeed, emergent masculinities in the Middle East today  go hand in hand with emergent technologies—from Testicular Sperm  Aspiration and ICSI to Twitter and Facebook. Indeed, Egyptians,  Tunisians, and Libyans—mostly young men using social media  technology—have ousted their dictatorial rulers, with the potential for  further youth-driven regime change in Syria, Yemen, and beyond.  In my  view, the most important moral story of the 2011 Arab spring is that  ordinary men—and women—in the Middle East can and have changed  their social worlds. As Asef Bayat, professor of Sociology and Middle  Eastern Studies at Leiden University writes in his prescient book, Life as Politics: How Ordinary People Change the Middle East:

Ordinary people…strive to affect the contours of change  in their societies, by refusing to exit from the social and political  stage controlled by authoritarian states, moral authority, and  neoliberal economies, discovering and generating new spaces within which  they can voice their dissent and assert their presence in pursuit of  bettering their lives.

While social media-driven revolutions in the Middle East have gained  global media attention, reproductive technology revolutions have not.  But, I would argue, the Middle East is also in the midst of an “art  revolution,” marked by both technological and masculine emergence.  Reconceiving Middle Eastern manhood requires examining these dual  forces, and especially the ways in which Middle Eastern men are changing  gender relations for the better.
Piece adapted from the conclusion of The New Arab Man
About the Author:
 Marcia C. Inhorn is William K. Lanman Jr. Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs and editor of the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies at Yale University. Marcia is the author of The New Arab Man: Emergent Masculinities, Technologies, and Islam in the Middle East.
Copyright © Berfrois.com
[Etching by Ismail Fatah Al-Turk, 2001]

Reconceiving Middle Eastern Manhood | berfrois

By Marcia Inhorn

February 9, 2012

Male infertility is one of the world’s best-kept secrets. Few people realize that male infertility contributes to more than half of all cases of childlessness worldwide. In the Middle Eastern region where I work, the rates of male infertility are even higher, 60-70% of all cases, with very severe forms that are probably genetic in origin and related to consanguineous, or cousin marriage.

Since 2003, I have been studying male infertility in the Middle East and Arab America, interviewing more than 330 Arab men from a variety of countries, primarily Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates. In all of these cases, men were undergoing assisted reproduction, particularly intracytoplasmic sperm injection, or ICSI, a variant of IVF designed in the early 1990s to overcome male infertility. Since 1994, when ICSI first arrived in Egypt, demand for this assisted reproductive technology has skyrocketed. Having spent hundreds of hours talking to both fertile and infertile men Middle Eastern IVF clinics, I argue that it is time to “reconceive Middle Eastern manhood.” This is an argument that runs throughout my latest book, to be published by Princeton University Press in March 2012, entitled The New Arab Man: Emergent Masculinities, Technologies, and Islam in the Middle East. In this book, I argue that reconceiving Middle Eastern manhood requires scholarship that brings men back into the reproductive imaginary as progenitors, partners, decision makers, protectors, friends, companions, nurturers, lovers, fathers and sentient human beings.

My own research shows that Middle Eastern men are often heavily involved and invested in many aspects of the reproductive process, from impregnation to parenting. In many cases, these men bear little resemblance to the stereotypical Middle Eastern man brought to us by the Western media. Indeed, since September 11th, 2001, Middle Eastern Muslim men have been particularly vilified as terrorists, religious zealots and brutal oppressors of women. The feminist assertion that the Middle East is “the seat of patriarchy” now seems to me patently unfair and outdated. Unseating patriarchy in the Middle East means rethinking our own feminist scholarly polemics—mine included—as the reality of men’s lives is revealed.

In my new work, I am arguing for recognition of Middle Eastern men’s emergent masculinities, a term that attempts to capture all that is new and transformative in men’s embodied personhood. Men in the Middle East today are enacting masculinity in ways that defy both patriarchy and neo-Orientalist stereotypes. I would like to describe what I see as some of the basic features of these “emergent masculinities” in the Middle East, as we enter the 21st century.

But first, we must define “emergence.” In his essay “Dominant, Residual, Emergent,” Marxist scholar Raymond Williams defined emergence as “new meanings and values, new practices, new relationships and kinds of relationship [that] are continually being created.”  When applied to new forms of manhood, emergent masculinities encapsulate change over the male life course as men age; change over the generations as male youth grow to adulthood; and changes in social history that involve men in transformative social processes. In addition, emergent masculinities highlight new forms of masculine practice that accompany these social trends. These would include, for example, men’s desire to “date” their partners before marriage; men’s acceptance of condoms and vasectomy as forms of male birth control; men’s desires to live in nuclear family residences with their wives and children; and men’s encouragement of daughters’ education.  All of these masculine practices are, in fact, emerging in the Middle East, but are rarely noticed by scholars or media pundits.

The “emergent” is omnipresent in the Middle East. The region now hosts, inter alia, the world’s tallest building and other architectural marvels; a global satellite television culture headlined by the homegrown product, Al Jazeera; internet cafes frequented by youth; a mass cell phone culture even among domestic servants and day laborers; multi-storey shopping malls selling European designer labels, as well as local Islamic fashions; rates of university matriculation among women now outstripping those of men; entrance of large numbers of women into the government bureaucracy and retail service sector; mass migration of men to the Arab Gulf and to virtually every other continent; concomitant delays in marriage, as young men and women “establish” themselves in new careers, new nuclear residences, and new lives different from their parents; and emerging social movements, including recent protest movements against dictatorial regimes, which have been largely initiated by younger-generation men and which have spread like wildfire across the region. In short, a veritable “revolution” in men’s and women’s social worlds—and their interactions with each other—is abundantly observable across the Middle Eastern region and requires scholarly attention.

What have I found in my own research? First of all, Middle Eastern men work hard, often emigrating for periods of their lives, in order to eventually marry and set up a nuclear family household. They desire romantic love, companionship, and sexual passion within a life-long, monogamous marriage surrounded by a sphere of conjugal privacy. Fatherhood of two to four children—a mixture of sons and desired daughters—is wanted as much for joy and happiness as for patrilineal continuity, patriarchal power, or old-age security.

If infertility threatens fatherhood, it is typically viewed as a medical condition to be overcome through invasive forms of high-tech assisted reproduction, rather than as a sign of diminished manhood. Today, male infertility is being equated with other emerging diseases such as diabetes, which are deemed hereditary, and thus beyond men’s individual control. In a region with high rates of male infertility, men often have friends and male relatives who are struggling with infertility. The modern-day treatment quest—which often includes repeated semen analysis, clinic-based masturbation, testicular needlework, genital surgeries, and other forms of embodied agony—is men’s badge of honor, signifying the ways men suffer for reproduction and love. Their feelings of sympathy and sacrificeof doing all of this “for her”—are prominent motivating factors in emergent marital subjectivities in the Middle East today.


ICSI being performed in a Beirut IVF clinic

Gender scripts surrounding conjugality are also being reworked in complex ways as ICSI and other assisted reproductive technologies reach wider and wider audiences in the Middle Eastern region. The very growth of a booming Middle Eastern IVF industry—for example, with nearly 250 IVF clinics between the three Middle Eastern countries of Turkey, Iran, and Egypt—bespeaks not only regional pronatalism, but also the physical, financial, and emotional commitments of thousands upon thousands of married couples. Increasingly, Middle Eastern couples are remaining together in long-term childless marriages, while trying repeated rounds of IVF and ICSI in the hopes of achieving parenthood.

When these assisted reproductive technologies fail, as they often do, some men are turning to third-party reproductive assistance, especially egg donation, to overcome their wives’ infertility. Accessing donor eggs may require reproductive “tourism” (aka cross-border reproductive care), as well as the services of traveling foreign egg donors who may, in fact, be American. Shia Muslim men in particular have been permitted to employ gamete donation by male Shia clerics, who themselves may be agents of moral change.  Even sperm donation—a globally stigmatized technology still shrouded in secrecy—has been authorized by at least one prominent Shia fatwa. As a result, it is now being employed by some men in two Middle Eastern countries, Iran and Lebanon.

Middle Eastern men who are resorting to gamete donation are not only Shia Muslims.  Indeed, Sunni Muslim, Druze, and Christian men are challenging religious orthodoxies—sometimes “going against the religion”—to pursue assisted reproductive technologies that have been religiously forbidden to them. Resisting religious authority takes great moral courage, especially when certain aspects of these technologies have been deemed sinful (even sending one to hell). Whereas some Sunni Muslim men are defying the Sunni ban on gamete donation, Middle Eastern Catholic men are rejecting the Vatican’s ban on all forms of assisted reproduction.  This includes male Catholic IVF physicians in Lebanon, who are followed the Shia lead in now offering both IVF/ICSI and gamete donation to their patients. Middle Eastern Christian men, whose voices are rarely heard in popular and scholarly discourses, have been among the most prominent advocates of both gamete donation and adoption, as ways to build a family.  Sunni Muslim men, too, are considering adoption and egg donation as alternative forms of family formation. Shia Muslim men, for their part, are major participants in the support and fostering of orphans.

In short, Middle Eastern men, both Muslim and Christian, are living moral lives with and without religious guidance. They are enacting joyful marital relations with and without children. And they are embracing new reproductive technologies with and without third-party reproductive assistance.  These changes in men’s attitudes, expectations, and practices of manhood and family life are indicative of what is being called “ideational change” across the Middle East. To wit, total fertility rates have fallen across the region,nuclear families are becoming the socially accepted norm, levels of education for both men and women, but especially women, are rising, and assumptions about son preference and men’s patriarchal rights are being questioned.  This “new Arab family”—to use the term coined by anthropologist Nicholas Hopkins—no longer resembles the Middle Eastern family of a generation ago.  These emergent changes in family life are being followed by several Middle Eastern anthropologists, who have formed the “Arab Families Working Group” (AFWG) led by pioneering Lebanese-American scholar Suad Joseph.

Just as these anthropologists are speaking of “the new Arab family,” I would like to coin the term the new Arab man.  New Arab men are rejecting the assumptions of their Arab forefathers, including what I call the four notorious P’s—patriarchy, patrilineality, patrilocality, and polygyny. According to the men in my studies, these four P’s are becoming a thing of the past. Instead, emergent masculinities in the Middle East are characterized by resistance to patriarchy, patrilineality, and patrilocality, which are being undermined. Polygyny is truly rare, less than 1% in most Middle Eastern societies, just as it has been throughout history. Certainly, polygyny is not a common strategy today to overcome childlessness, nor a social norm that contemporary Middle Eastern men strive for. Although most Middle Eastern men want to father their own children, taking a second wife is not viewed as “the solution” to infertility. Instead, men seek to help their infertile wives find appropriate treatment. Middle Eastern men today also realize that they themselves may be infertile.

These new Arab men are essentially changing their personal lives, interjecting new notions of manhood, gender relations, and intimate subjectivities into their ways of being. These emergent masculinities defy conventional gender stereotypes, can be found across faith traditions, challenge prevailing moral authorities, and employ emerging technoscientific innovations. I would like to argue that assisted reproduction, too, is changing the Middle East in unprecedented ways, creating many new possibilities for marital, gender, and family relations. Assisted reproduction has brought with it hopes and dreams for the high numbers of infertile men in the Middle East, in a region that can now boast one of the strongest and largest assisted reproduction industries in the world.

Indeed, emergent masculinities in the Middle East today go hand in hand with emergent technologies—from Testicular Sperm Aspiration and ICSI to Twitter and Facebook. Indeed, Egyptians, Tunisians, and Libyans—mostly young men using social media technology—have ousted their dictatorial rulers, with the potential for further youth-driven regime change in Syria, Yemen, and beyond.  In my view, the most important moral story of the 2011 Arab spring is that ordinary men—and women—in the Middle East can and have changed their social worlds. As Asef Bayat, professor of Sociology and Middle Eastern Studies at Leiden University writes in his prescient book, Life as Politics: How Ordinary People Change the Middle East:

Ordinary people…strive to affect the contours of change in their societies, by refusing to exit from the social and political stage controlled by authoritarian states, moral authority, and neoliberal economies, discovering and generating new spaces within which they can voice their dissent and assert their presence in pursuit of bettering their lives.

While social media-driven revolutions in the Middle East have gained global media attention, reproductive technology revolutions have not. But, I would argue, the Middle East is also in the midst of an “art revolution,” marked by both technological and masculine emergence. Reconceiving Middle Eastern manhood requires examining these dual forces, and especially the ways in which Middle Eastern men are changing gender relations for the better.

Piece adapted from the conclusion of The New Arab Man

About the Author:

Marcia C. Inhorn is William K. Lanman Jr. Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs and editor of the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies at Yale University. Marcia is the author of The New Arab Man: Emergent Masculinities, Technologies, and Islam in the Middle East.

Copyright © Berfrois.com

[Etching by Ismail Fatah Al-Turk, 2001]

October 6, 2011
Syrian troops 'kill Syrian farmer in Lebanon'

fuckyeahmiddleeast:

Syrian forces have crossed into Lebanese territory and shot dead a Syrian man living in a border area, reports say.

The man killed was reportedly a farmer living in a remote area of Lebanon’s eastern Bekaa region. It was not clear why he was targeted.

It follows an incursion by Syrian tanks earlier this week, raising fears that Syria’s unrest is spreading.

Some 5,000 Syrians have sought refuge in Lebanon in recent months.

They include deserting soldiers and opposition members fleeing a crackdown on protesters by the Syrian government.

At least 2,900 people have died in Syria since the uprising against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad began in March.

Porous border

According to reports, Syrian army vehicles crossed the border near Saaba, in the Bekaa region, and attacked farmers and their homes.

Witnesses said several buildings were damaged.

A Lebanese official told AFP news agency as saying the body of the Syrian man who died was left lying at the site, and that an investigation was under way.

It is unclear why the man, named as Ali al-Khatib - who was married to a Lebanese woman and living in the area - was killed.

The BBC’s Jim Muir in Beirut says the border near the Bekaa region is porous and not even clearly defined.

Earlier this week, Syrian tanks entered the same region in a brief incursion.

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Miqati told AFP that a joint Syrian-Lebanese committee was looking into the issue.

“I am not being silent about this, we are dealing with the issue normally,” he said.

“I don’t want to blow these incidents out of proportion and I don’t want to belittle them either,” he added.

Lebanon has taken in several thousand Syrians fleeing the trouble in their own country.

Mr Miqati says they are being looked after on humanitarian grounds, but our correspondent says there have been reports of activists being hunted down and sent back to Syria.