Israel’s Rightward Shift Leaves Palestinian Citizens Out in the Cold

by Jonathan Cook | published February 13, 2013

Shortly before polling day in Israel’s January general election, the Arab League issued a statement urging Israel’s large Palestinian minority, a fifth of the country’s population, to turn out en masse to vote. The League’s unprecedented intervention -- reportedly at the instigation of the League’s Palestinian delegation -- was motivated by two concerns.

The Jordanian State Buys Itself Time

by Nicholas Seeley | published February 12, 2013

For months prior to Jordan’s parliamentary elections, concluded on January 23, both the state apparatus and the opposition had been building up the contests as a moment of truth. The state presented the polls as a critical juncture in the execution of its strategy of gradual political reform; the opposition, riding the momentum of two years of concerted street protests, staged a boycott it hoped would delegitimize the whole endeavor.

Jesse and the Jews

Palestine and the Struggle for the Democratic Party

by Micah Sifry
published in MER155

Throughout the first half of 1988, at every level of the political process in the United States, the longstanding consensus governing policy towards Israel, the Palestinians and the Arab-Israeli conflict was in flux. The explosion of Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation and Israeli repression generated sharp questions about American and Israeli policy in the major media, in polls of public opinion, even in the supposedly monolithic Jewish community.

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"Transfer" and the Discourse of Racism

by Ken Brown
published in MER157

Saturday night I decided to go to a campaign meeting of the Moledet Party in Kfar Shalem, a rough neighborhood in the south of Tel Aviv. In the past, houses there were periodically served with demolition orders by the Tel Aviv municipality; in 1982 one inhabitant pulled a gun on demolition crews who had come to tear down an illegally-built extension to his house. Some people consider the violence of the state in Kfar Shalem as a form of racism against Oriental Jews. The slogan “Askhe-Nazis!” with a swastika beside it appeared on the walls of mainly Ashkenazi (Jews of European origin) neighborhoods of north Tel Aviv, as well as on memorials of the 1948 War of Independence.

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The Elections, the Peace Camp and the Left

by Asher Davidi
published in MER157

The November 1988 Israeli election confirmed a pattern set in 1981 and 1984: the vote was nearly equal between the two large bourgeois parties, the Likud and the Alignment (Labor), and both these parties lost strength to their left and right.

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Jordan's Election

A New Era?

by Philip Robins
published in MER164

The pundits got it wrong. They had predicted that the Jordanian general election of November 8 would result in the overwhelming return of traditional candidates with only a smattering of opposition deputies, enough to provide a vigorous, vocal check on government, but marginal in terms of setting a political agenda and molding policy.

This prevailing view among the liberal, educated, middle classes, Palestinian and Jordanian alike, who comprise the kingdom’s commentators and analysts, was also the view of the royal palace. Inevitably it became the view of the foreign embassies, and the view of foreign journalists who rely so heavily on diplomatic briefings.

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Egyptian Politics Upended

by Mona El-Ghobashy | published August 20, 2012

When he took office on June 30, President Muhammad Mursi of Egypt looked to have been handed a poisoned chalice. The ruling generals of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) had tolerated a clean presidential election but then had hollowed out the presidency, saddling Mursi with an executive’s accountability but little of the corresponding authority. The country resigned itself to the grim reality of dual government, with an elected civilian underdog toiling in the shadow of mighty military overlords. Then, just over a month later, Mursi turned the tables, dismissing Egypt’s top generals and taking back the powers they had usurped. The power play crystallizes the new dynamic of Egyptian politics: the onset of open contestation for the Egyptian state.

Ordering Egypt's Chaos

by Joshua Stacher | published June 29, 2012

To the left of a makeshift stage in a Cairo five-star hotel, the waiting continued. Ahmad Shafiq, the last prime minister of the deposed Husni Mubarak and one of two remaining candidates in Egypt’s first post-Mubarak presidential race, was three hours late. Fewer than 60 hours were left until voting was to start in the June 16-17 runoff. But the atmosphere, beside the burgundy backdrop with its decorative maple leafs flanking the podium, felt more like a garden-variety junket than a last-minute campaign stop. It was not clear why Shafiq would choose on this of all days to address the Egyptian-Canadian Business Council.

Sightings of the Egyptian Deep State

by Issandr El Amrani | published January 1, 2012

The turbulence that has hit Egypt since mid-November seems, at first glance, mostly a testament to the poor performance of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) in handling the transition away from the rule of Husni Mubarak. Having assumed power on February 10, the SCAF moved quickly to attain the stamp of popular legitimacy through a March 19 referendum on constitutional amendments. Since then, however, the conclave of generals has stumbled over the flawed logic of its own plan for the transition, as well as ad hoc decision making and a high-handed, dismissive attitude toward the new politics of the country. The SCAF’s plan, in brief, was to engineer a restoration of civilian rule that shielded the army’s political and economic prerogatives from civilian oversight, and perhaps bolstered those roles, yielding a system not unlike the “deep state” that prevailed for decades in Turkey. Such was the system in Egypt, in fact, under Mubarak.

Egypt's Intense Election Eve

by Nate Wright | published November 10, 2011

Residents of Cairo’s Darb al-Ahmar neighborhood have gathered at a streetside café on a late October Friday night to get their first glimpse of a political party founded by revolutionary activists. Men play backgammon and sip from their glasses of tea as members of al-‘Adl, one of 35 new parties vying for a role in Egypt’s next government, rush to set up a table and microphone at the café entrance. The first round of parliamentary elections, scheduled to commence November 28, is only a month away, but the campaign season has just begun. In the eight months since widespread demonstrations and Egypt’s military leadership forced former President Husni Mubarak to flee to Sharm al-Sheikh, the country’s political class has been caught up in divisive battles over election laws, party alliances and timetables -- all complicated by the ruling military council’s thorough mishandling of the rocky transition. As a result, many parties have turned to electioneering with the sudden intensity of a student doing his homework on the morning ride to school. When it makes its debut at the Nasif café, al-‘Adl will be only the fourth party that Darb al-Ahmar residents have seen in their area. The others -- the Muslim Brothers, al-Wafd and al-Ghad -- are all Mubarak-era opposition parties with experience running in parliamentary elections.