Taking Back the Village

Rural Youth in a Moral Revolution

by Lila Abu-Lughod
published in MER272

On January 25, 2011, like most of the rest of the world I watched the uprisings in Egypt on television. I was struck by the consistent vantage point: a reporter speaking from a balcony or rooftop overlooking the masses in Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo. There was an occasional interview with a member of the crowd. Sporadic reports appeared from the streets of other cities -- Alexandria, Suez or Port Said -- where people were demonstrating.

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Strangers in the Crowd

by Vivienne Matthies-Boon | published September 5, 2014 - 5:34pm

“The system of fear is back,” whispers an Egyptian political activist. “It is showing its teeth, saying ‘I’m baaack.’” The protest veteran speaks sotto voce even though he is sitting in his living room. And that, he points out, is the biggest change since the heady days of 2011, after the fall of Husni Mubarak, and even since the more somber times of 2012 and 2013.

Sifting the Berkeley Left

by Jock Taft
published in MER129

On June 5, 1984, voters in Berkeley, California, by a margin of almost 64 percent to 36 percent, defeated a ballot measure calling for the United States to reduce its aid to Israel by the amount Israel spends on its settlements in the occupied territories of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Golan Heights. What’s going on here? Since the 1960s, Berkeley has had a reputation as the most politically progressive urban community in the country. Civil rights activism on the University of California campus spawned the Free Speech Movement, which in turn set the stage for the early protests and organizing against the US war in Vietnam. When Ronald Reagan was elected governor in 1966, one of his main campaign targets was UC campus radicalism.

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Justice for Rasmea Odeh

by Nadine Naber | published June 19, 2014 - 4:31pm

This past winter, I was privileged to participate in several events in Chicago organized by Rasmea Yousef Odeh, associate director of the Arab American Action Network and leader of that group’s Arab Women’s Committee. The events brought together anywhere from 60-100 disenfranchised women, all recent immigrants, from nearly every Arabic-speaking country. The attendees were there to learn English, share meals and stories, and discuss personal struggles, in everything from marriage and parenting to navigating the US educational and medical industries and the US immigration system. The women also talked about fending off racism.

The Peace Now Demonstration of February 10, 1983

published in MER114

This account by Shulamit Har-Even appeared in Yediot Aharanot on February 14, 1983. It was translated from Hebrew by Israel Shahak. According to Shahak, who was present at the demonstration himself, the pro-Sharon crowd was made up of West Bank settlers (“Gush Emunim types”) and young yeshiva students of the Agudat Israel Party, both of these largely Ashkenazi, and a separate group of young Oriental Jews brought in on special buses from Beit Shemesh. Shahak observed that while the Peace Now crowd was continuously joined by new marchers, virtually no individuals joined the pro-Sharon group during the demonstration.

Turkey's Woman in the Red Dress

by Neslihan Sen
published in MER268

On June 1, the day after the brutal police attack to disperse the occupation of Gezi Park, thousands more protesters descended upon Taksim Square in central Istanbul. By the end of the week, demonstrators filled the plaza completely, with those in the park itself behind barricades should the police mount another raid. The atmosphere reminded many of a carnival, with people sharing food and dancing to music as they chanted slogans in the shade of the towering trees. It was an anxious occasion all the same -- two protester tents were designated as infirmaries. Everyone wore masks or scarves around their necks to ward off tear gas and many carried first aid items for the volunteer health personnel.

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Generation Y in Gezi Park

by Marcie J. Patton
published in MER268

Generation Y has figured large in the global pattern of protest beginning at the tail end of the 2000s. In marches against the fraudulent presidential election in Iran, against austerity in southern Europe, against autocracy in places from Morocco to Bahrain, and against greed and corruption in the United States, people born between 1980 and the late 1990s, aged 15-30, have been a driving force. Generation Y, also known as the millennials or the We Generation, is more than 2 billion people, roughly a third of the world’s total population.

"This Is Our Square"

Fighting Sexual Assault at Cairo Protests

by Vickie Langohr
published in MER268

In June 2013 popular anger, excitement and apprehension rippled through Cairo. Lines at gas stations snaked into major roadways, paralyzing traffic. Artists occupied the Ministry of Culture to oppose a new minister from the Muslim Brothers’ Freedom and Justice Party who had fired respected cultural leaders. Artists, including the Cairo Opera ballet troupe, performed in solidarity in front of the Ministry, in a pointed retort to a member of the salafi Nour Party who said that ballet “provoke[ed] people to immorality.” Determined to oust then-president Muhammad Mursi, citizens signed the Tamarrud (Rebellion) petition calling for early presidential elections and planned to attend anti-Mursi demonstrations on June 30.

Breaking the Silence

by Denis Doyon
published in MER134

“Forget about ideology; we see the facts on the Hi ground.” The Palestinian woman speaks softly but firmly, recounting the tragedies of her people. It is obvious, she says, that Zionism is the central issue in the Middle East. “Because of Zionism, I live in America instead of Palestine. You can’t ignore that fact.”

“You can’t ignore what Zionism has meant to the Palestinians, but don’t overlook what it means to us,” responds the Jewish woman. Nearly all Jews, she says, regard it as the legitimate expression of Jewish self-determination.

We’ve all heard it a hundred times before. Often, it degenerates into name calling. This time, it’s different.

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New Jewish Agenda Convention Urges Recognition of PLO

published in MER136

The New Jewish Agenda (NJA), in its first national convention since its founding meeting in 1980, came out strongly for a policy of mutual Israeli-Palestinian recognition and for inclusion of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in peace negotiations. The resolutions represent some of the work done by some local chapters since the 1980 founding convention. Chapters are not required to implement all the resolutions passed. Rather, they are encouraged to utilize those which best assist them in carrying out their ongoing work. The national Middle East Task Force will be offering assistance to local chapters in three areas of work: lobbying, work within the Jewish community, and dialogue with Arab groups.

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