Wednesday, March 6, 2013

From Intifada to Intifada

Here is an excerpt of my latest in Today's Zaman (4 March 2013):

Earlier last week, the Israeli media was filled with two contrasting scenarios: one of children and adults dressed up in colorful costumes, celebrating the Jewish holiday of Purim, and the other, of Palestinian protesters clashing with the Israeli military, as news came in of the death of Palestinian prisoner Arafat Jaradat.

While the news programs were filled with members of the Israeli security establishment predicting whether or not Israel was in the face of another Intifada, a Palestinian uprising, perhaps what was needed was a sociologist to explain how most Israelis cannot see the dichotomy between a people in celebration versus one dealing with the daily struggles of occupation, now for over 45 years.

The first Intifada broke out in December 1987 and took most Israelis by surprise. Then, Israel was a much different Israel. Almost 40 years had passed since the Israeli state was established, and 20 years since they had occupied the Palestinian territories. For better or worse, a hierarchy had been set in place where Palestinians were used as cheap labor, and as a result many Israelis and Palestinians had daily relations. Yes, the Palestinians faced discrimination and were denied the right to political representation; however, they also traveled to Tel Aviv and filled the beaches on weekends, and many Israeli Jews filled the markets in the West Bank. However, this ended with the Intifada, which introduced the first stages of separation.

Parallel to the first Intifada, Israeli society was still recovering over the first Lebanon War, a war which showed them that they too were not so innocent; many Israelis declared this a “choice” war and blamed their leaders for what became Israel's Vietnam. If this was not enough, with Israeli archives slowly opening up, such works as Benny Morris' “The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem” came to light. These works, authored by a group tagged the “New Historians,” challenged the Israeli state's ethos of defense and led to debates in the society about what really happened in 1948.

To continue reading, here is the link

Monday, March 4, 2013

Turkey and LGBT Rights: A Historical and Global Perspective

Here is an excerpt of my latest in Turkish Policy Quarterly, in its Winter 2013 edition:

During the last decade, LGBT rights has transformed into an international issue, making it more urgent for Ankara to address issues of its own LGBT community. When placed in the domestic context, the LGBT struggle has followed the path of other communities demanding freedoms. However, on the international front, the issue becomes much more complex. Further, if checked in a historical context, the promotion of LGBT rights by international organizations and the U.S. State Department can be seen as an extension of European intervention in Ottoman affairs in the mid-19th-century, and the early years of the Turkish Republic. This fact could lead some to perceive their agenda as a type of Western exclusivism or cultural imperialism.   Due to these reasons, it seems that if change is to come in Turkey, it will be a result of domestic activism and Turkey’s choice to continue with EU reforms.

To read more, here is the link

And, here is the link to Turkish Policy Quarterly's Winter 2013 edition, Gender rights and freedoms in Turkey and the Arab world: Spring or Winter

Obama's Middle East challenges

Here is an excerpt of my latest in Today's Zaman (20 February 2013)

During the coming month, US President Barack Obama will visit Israel for the first time since becoming president. While some are speculating that he will commence a peace summit, bringing together Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with his counterpart, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, others are claiming that the real purpose of his trip is to discuss with Netanyahu the standoff with Iran. However, it should be pointed out that for the US, the policy governing Palestinian-Israeli peace and the growing Iranian nuclear threat should not been seen as separate, but rather as working in unison.

Put simply, if Palestinian and Israelis are placed back on a track of peace, then Obama's attempts at pressuring Iran will have a greater effect, especially in creating a momentum for support in the Middle East.

To continue reading, here is the link