Of Niqabs, Monsters, and Decolonial Feminisms

By Huma Dar

A woman in niqab being arrested in Paris, April 12, 2011, copyright EPA

Of Civilities and Dignities

On 22 June 2009, Nicolas Sarkozy, the French President, asserted that burqas (or the burqa-clad?) are “not welcome” in France, adding that “[i]n our country, we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity” and that “the veils reduced dignity.” France’s Muslim minority is Western Europe’s largest Muslim minority, estimated at six-million-strong.  And this is just an approximation, as the French Republic implicitly claims to be post-race and post-religion via a prohibition on any census that would take into account the race or religion of its citizens. (This anxiety mirrors the brouhaha in Indian media àpropos the much-contested enumeration of OBCs or Other Backward Castes in the Indian census surveys of 2011, or the urgency to declare some spaces post-caste, post-feminist, and post-racist while casteism, patriarchy and racism continue unabated.)

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The muzzling of Israel critics in European universities

David Cronin, author of the recently released Europe’s Alliance with Israel: Aiding the Occupation, writes in his latest piece for Mondoweiss:

If imitation is the best form of flattery, then the activists behind Israeli Apartheid Week have been paid an immense tribute. As students belonging to Palestine support groups across Britain held events to mark the annual March event, they learned of a rival initiative. A network of on-campus Zionist societies have declared their own Israeli Awareness Week over the same period.

The awareness week has relied heavily on gimmicks to try and counter impressions that Israel has a war addiction. Stalls staffed by visiting Israeli students have offered sugary delights labelled “Peace of Cake”; signatures have been collected for a “we support a two-state solution” petition.

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CulturEscapes and the Moral Duty of BDS Today


The neutral Switzerland is about to host a yearly Culturescapes festival. Every year the festival focuses on a different country. This year- the most successful for cultural boycott, yet- it just had to play into Desmond Tutu’s hands and focus on Israel.

A Word about Culture

Culture is a word I’ve been hearing a lot lately. Israel’s Brand Israel campaign is focusing on PR apartheid; Hiding it’s atrocities as best it can, and highlighting it’s “advantages”:

In the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 6 niches were identified in which Israel has a relative advantage… The 6 niches through which it is planned to promote Israel, in the world, are environment (with an emphases on desert agriculture); Science and technology (medicine, internet and hi-tech); Culture and art; Human variety and tradition; lifestyle and leisure culture; Tikun Olam [=Fixing the world] (support of populations of special needs).

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The US Democratic Party Debacle and the Demise of the Left-Center Left: A Worldwide Trend

by James Petras

Introduction

The November 2, 2010 electoral debacle of the Democratic Party in the US cannot be solely ascribed to the failed policies of President Obama, the Congressional leadership or their senior economic advisers. Nor is the demise of what passes for the American “center-left” confined to the US – it is a world-wide pattern, expressed in countries as diverse as Greece, Portugal, Spain, Great Britain and Japan.

The central question is why the left-center left governing parties are everywhere in crisis and will be for the foreseeable future?

The Left-Center Left: Past Winners, Present Losers

In the past leftist parties had been the beneficiaries of capitalist crises: Incumbent conservative regimes, which had presided over economic recessions or had been held responsible for military debacles, were ousted from power by leftist parties prepared to make large-scale, long-term public investments, funded by progressive taxes on wealth and capital, and to impose austerity programs on the rich and wealthy.

In contrast, today the left/center-left (L-CL) regimes preside over crisis-ridden capitalist economies and administer regressive socio-economic policies designed to promote the recovery of the biggest financial and corporate enterprises while rolling back wages, social programs, pensions and unemployment benefits.

As a result, the L-CL has become the prime political loser in the current economic crisis, reaping hostility and rejection from the great mass of its former working class and salaried supporters.

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“Only the mood music has changed”: Tariq Ali on Obama’s presidency

OK… here’s the PULSE exclusive I’ve been working on. Hope you enjoy.

Is president Barack Obama the change America has been waiting for or is he another corporate Democrat representing elite interests?  According to Tariq Ali, very little has chanced between Obama and former president George W. Bush.  In his latest book “The Obama Syndrome: Surrender at Home, War Abroad,” Ali argues that Obama is carrying on the reckless policies of the Bush regime.  If Obama continues down this path, the Democratic Party not only face the prospect of the House & Senate in 2010 but also the presidency in 2012.  This should be a cause for concern.

I caught up with Ali during his American book tour and here’s what he had to say about the Obama presidency.

Where did the idea for this book emanate from? Why did you want to write a book about “The Obama Syndrome” and what does that refer to?

The idea occurred because I speak a lot on the United States. People ask me questions after each talk and increasingly in the past two to three years, the talk has been about Obama.  I thought a short book which essentially provided a balance sheet from the left on the mid-term would be a useful exercise. Given that he’s being attacked nonstop for being a socialist, a leftist, being a Muslim and all this nonsense that comes from the Tea Party-Fox Television alliance, I thought it was better to have a hard-headed realistic account about who the guy really is.  So my book is a critique of him, but it’s also by implication a very sharp critique of people who claim that everything Obama is doing is so radical that they can’t take it anymore.

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Revealed: The Palestinian Authority tried to undermine Turkey’s push for UN flotilla probe

The Electronic Intifada has published a damning report by journalist Asa Winstanley which shows that the Palestinian Authority attempted to neutralize a United Nations Human Rights Council resolution condemning Israel’s deadly attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla which killed nine Turkish citizens, including a dual US-Turkish citizen, and injured dozens of others aboard the Mavi Marmara in international waters. The Electronic Intifada has published one of the several UN and Palestinian Authority documents that were obtained by Winstanley. Here are highlights from the report:

Download the document leaked to EI [PDF]

The Electronic Intifada (EI) today publishes one of the documents it obtained, containing proposed amendments to a draft Human Rights Council (HRC) resolution. Annotations to the resolution indicate the Palestinian Authority (PA) stood with European Union (EU) countries against Turkey’s calls for robust action to hold Israel accountable.

The PA’s apparent collusion to shield Israel will recall for many its efforts to undermine UN action on the Goldstone report last October.

Apparently written by a European delegate, the document’s amendments would have seriously diluted Turkey’s original wording. The most damaging change would have removed the call for an independent UN investigation under HRC auspices. The document was provided to EI by a source who described how it was obtained inside the UN Office at Geneva, and asked to remain anonymous.

Turkey rejected the EU-PA amendments, and the final resolution on 2 June declared that the council “Decides to dispatch an independent international fact-finding mission to investigate violations of international humanitarian and human rights law resulting from the Israeli attacks” (“The Grave Attacks by Israeli Forces against the Humanitarian Boat Convoy,” United Nations Human Rights Council, Fourteenth session, A/HRC/14/L.1, Adopted on 2 June 2010).

The language in the final resolution was very similar to the January 2009 HRC resolution which led to the Goldstone report, the independent investigation that detailed war crimes committed during Israel’s 2008-09 invasion of Gaza.

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Why Turkey is Looking East

Good analysis from Link TV’s Mosaic Intelligence Report. Also see this excellent analysis of Erdogan’s rise by Patrick Cockburn.

linktv 11 June 2010 — (Mosaic Intelligence Report: June 11, 2010) Turkey votes against UN sanctions on Iran. Erdogan is a hero in the Arab world. Did Turkey abandon its EU dreams? And why is it looking towards the East?

channelled French-Russian philosopher Alexandre Kojève’s idiosyncratic reading of Hegel[1] to


[1] Kojève, from whom Fukuyama borrowed the notion of ‘end of history’, was a major influence on Bloom.

The Carnival at Novara and Unmasking of a Racist Regime

by Huma Dar

The police, in the northern Italian town of Novara, fined a 26-year-old Tunisian woman for wearing a black niqab; she was going to a mosque for the Friday prayers.  According to the New York Times she was fined about $650 under a regulation introduced in January 2010.  Apparently, Novara — a bastion of the xenophobic Northern League — “bans clothing in public that prevents identification by the police.”

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