BDS in the USA, 2001-2010

by Noura Erakat
published in MER255

On April 26, 2010, the student senate at the University of California-Berkeley upheld, by one vote, an executive veto on SB 118 -- the student body resolution endorsing divestment of university funds from General Electric and United Technologies, two companies that profit from the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Proponents of the resolution needed 14 votes to override the veto and, as 16 senators had spoken in favor of doing so, it appeared a simple task.

Solidarity in the Time of Anti-Normalization

by Elliott Colla
published in MER224

The 1979 Camp David peace treaty may have brought an end to formal hostilities between Egypt and Israel, but their peace is a cold one. Moreover, there has always been a wide gap between how this treaty shapes Egyptian foreign policy and popular Egyptian sentiment toward Israel. Since Camp David, Egyptian academics, artists and professionals have expressed their opposition primarily through a policy of “anti-normalization,” whose logic is simple. While Egyptian citizens cannot erase President Anwar Sadat’s signature from the accord, they can ensure -- by refusing to travel to Israel, by blocking the kind of cultural and professional ties expected of neighbors at peace -- that relations between the two countries will remain distinctly abnormal.

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Sparks of Activist Spirit in Egypt

by Paul Schemm | published April 13, 2002

For a few days in October 2000, near the beginning of the second Palestinian intifada, it looked as though Egypt's student movement had finally found its voice again after years of quiescence. Students at Cairo University and other schools demonstrated daily and even clashed with security forces during attempts to march on the Israeli embassy to show their solidarity with the Palestinians. When this movement petered out soon after it began, most observers sympathetic to the student movement shook their heads and lamented the loss of Egypt's activist spirit.

Mediterranean Blues

Facing Environmental Crises

by Zeina al-Hajj
published in MER216

Under pressure to solve immediate economic problems, 
Middle Eastern countries seek to industrialize as 
quickly and as cheaply as possible. While developed countries around the world are very slowly adopting technologies and production methods that exert less pressure on the environment, Western industry at the same time sells its old, polluting technologies to less developed countries at cut-rate prices. Too often, the myopic drive for quick economic gains means that destruction is taken for development and deterioration for progress. Greenpeace and other international and local organizations are combating this mindset on several fronts.

Burning Trash

Egyptian Environmental Activists' Uphill Battle

by Jennifer Bell
published in MER216

In 1990, citizens of Alexandria organized to fight the loss 
of public access to a street in a main downtown square. 
The city had given the street to the World Health Organization for a planned expansion of their local offices. In a landmark case against then-governor Ismail al-Gawsaqi, the citizens’ group, Friends of the Environment and Development-Alexandria (FEDA), argued that city authorities had denied the public’s right to “locational memory” and open space in overcrowded Alexandria. Elderly residents testified in court about their memories of promenades on the street. In a piece of effective political theater, group members sitting in court attached flowers to their lapels and laid flowers on the street outside, to symbolize their mourning of the passing of urban space. The group’s tactics were mocked at first. But in the end, the judge ruled that the allocation of the street for the WHO expansion violated the constitutional principle that “public resources should be used in the public interest.” The WHO announced it would move to Cairo, though the offices are still in Alexandria at present.

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