From the Editor

published in MER279

At a State Department ceremony on September 14 the United States and Israel signed a Memorandum of Understanding promising $38 billion in military aid to Israel over the ten years from 2019 to 2028. As the White House was quick to point out, it is the largest single military aid package ever pledged by the US to any country, demonstrating President Barack Obama’s “unshakable commitment to Israeli security.”

The Palestine Exception to Free Speech in America

by Joshua Stacher | published February 17, 2016 - 5:51pm

Omar Shakir and Megan Marzec came to northeastern Ohio last week to discuss the constraints on speech about research and activism with regard to Palestinian rights. Their host was the Northeast Ohio Consortium on Middle East Studies (NOCMES).

Letter to Bernie, II

by Joel Beinin | published February 15, 2016 - 11:13am

Dear Sen. Sanders,

I’m a contributor to your campaign and enthusiastically support your bold, relentless critique of the billionaire class that is undermining democracy and making a decent life impossible for millions of people. I’d like you to speak more about how big money has been a destructive force in shaping our foreign policy as much, if not more, than our domestic policies. Perhaps no issue exemplifies this problem like Israel-Palestine.

Letter to Bernie

by The Editors | published February 11, 2016 - 2:49pm

Dear Sen. Sanders,

Congratulations on your strong showing in Iowa and your victory in New Hampshire.

It’s exciting to see Democratic primary voters—especially younger ones—choosing your program of social democracy over the unfettered liberal capitalism to which they’ve always been told there’s no alternative. They’re making that choice even though you call yourself a “socialist” and refuse to disavow the label amid the corporate media’s sneers. Imagine that—voters think they should decide who’s electable.

Have Yourself Some Anti-Refugee Hysteria

by Chris Toensing | published December 9, 2015

As holiday shoppers empty their wallets to buy presents for family and friends, there’s been an outbreak of miserliness among our politicians—directed at some of the world’s most helpless people.

At least 30 Republican governors, and one Democrat, are vowing to bar Syrian refugees from their states. One family was actually turned away at the Indiana state line when the local resettlement agency got a nasty phone call from the authorities.

Ahmed Mohamed, Liberal Rhetoric and Obama Administration Propaganda

by Leili Kashani | published September 28, 2015 - 3:31pm

Most readers will know by now that a 14-year-old kid named Ahmed Mohamed was recently arrested in Irving, Texas for, well, for making a clock while Muslim. Ahmed, an aspiring engineer and a robotics enthusiast, had built a simple digital clock and brought it to his ninth-grade high school classes, hoping to impress his teachers. Instead, one of them called the cops on him, and with the consent of the school principal, five police officers arrested him and took him to a detention center in handcuffs. Ahmed has reported that one officer he’d never seen before looked at him and said, “Yup.

We Can—and Should—Do More to Help Syrian Refugees

by Chris Toensing | published September 16, 2015

Imagine that 58 million Americans were streaming into Canada and Mexico, many with only a small satchel and the clothes on their backs. Picture another 102 million residents of the Eastern seaboard seeking refuge with relatives in the Midwest and West.

That terrifying mental exercise gives a sense of the sheer, staggering scale of the Syrian refugee crisis.

Half of Syria’s pre-war population of 22 million has been uprooted since the country’s horrendous civil war broke out in late 2011. Over 4 million people have escaped to neighboring countries and beyond, while an additional 7 million or so are displaced within the country.

An Extraordinary Feat of Diplomacy

by Chris Toensing | published August 5, 2015

The nuclear agreement with Iran is an extraordinary feat of diplomacy.

First and foremost, non-proliferation experts agree that the deal blocks all of the routes to making an atomic bomb. There are provisions for rigorous inspections—so if Iran cheats, the world will know.

Second, it isn’t just Washington to whom the Iranians are accountable. All five permanent members of the UN Security Council, and Germany too, signed alongside the United States. The UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, will monitor Iranian activities on the great powers’ behalf.

Slahi, Guantanamo Diary

by Lisa Hajjar
published in MER275

Mohamedou Ould Slahi, Guantánamo Diary (New York: Little, Brown, 2015).

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Migrant Workers and the US Military in the Middle East

by Darryl Li
published in MER275

Over the past 15 years, the United States has waged two major land wars in the greater Middle East with hundreds of thousands of ground troops. Shadowing these armies and rivaling them in size has been a labor force of private contractors. The security company once called Blackwater has played an outsize role in the wide-ranging debate about the privatization of war and attendant concerns of corruption, waste and human rights abuses. But this debate has also largely overlooked a crucial fact: While Blackwater was founded and largely staffed by retired US military personnel, the vast majority of the overseas contractor work force is not American.