Final Post of the Semester

This past semester, I have drastically increased my knowledge of the Arab world. This class has helped me understand many of the societal differences between the American culture and the Arab cultures.

Blogging was really difficult for me at first but after a while I got into the swing of things and began to dissect the views of our societies media towards the Arab world. It has allowed me to better understand my position in the world and has helped me better refute misinformation when I see it. By comparing my classmates posts and my own I have come to the conclusion that the surge in technology that we have been seeing is causing a conflict between the old world and the new.

As we discuss the growing feminist movement in the Middle East it’s easy to see the many instances where the new ideals are starting to take shape and strides in equality are being made. During the duration of our class we saw the emergence of Saudi Arabian women being able to ride bikes and being allowed into the Shara. We have seen the beginning of a movement that is starting to break the barriers of the old generation.

We were shown the many pieces relating to the emergence of Hip-Hop in the Arab world. How it has become the voice of the oppressed middle class and intellectuals, and how it’s gaining a reputation throughout the world. The lyrics are politically charged and shed light on the problems of the political chaos. We are also shown the heavy Metal aspect of that and how it’s being drowned in the heel of the oppressive religious regimes.

We have seen Syria slip deeper into the revolution and the various points of misinformation that surrounds the conflict. We have also seen the politics behind what was considered justifiable and the mysterious line that was crossed with the use of chemical weapons. How Israel has time and time again bombed Syria and oppressed the Palestinians. We have also seen the world’s opinion of the rebels shift from the voice of the people to another form of oppression.

We saw how Egypt reacted to the new form of government and its crackdown on the soccer riots and anti-governmental pundits. Throughout the Egyptian conflicts we were given various points of views from my classmates that introduced a more vivid picture on the societal repercussions.

We were shown the cultural biases highlighted by Edward Said, and instances where orientalism took over the medias opinions. The many opinions of our class highlight the various points of views behind the stories, and introduce a new avenue of thought. I could not ask for a better class, as every conversation we have had has been extremely positive and intellectually challenging.

I believe that blogging has allowed our class to form our own opinions of the Middle East and exhibit our findings to a wider audience. It has created a venue for open discussion and continued knowledge that could not have been obtained otherwise. Blogging has given us the tools to effectively find information, decipher whether it has bias, and form an opinion based on the facts rather than the conclusions that have been drawn by others.

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Russia and USA to Syria: “Play Nice”

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In the wake of the various headlines that Syria has dominated internationally, the United States and Russia have agreed to attempt another set of peace talks. The attempt has been hailed as a great step forward. I honestly don’t get it, if the world is supportive of two countries trying to regain a handle on the situation as it has clearly gone too far then our priorities are incorrect. We praise the idea of inciting a peace after we clearly lost the ability to continue the talks. The peace talks never should have stopped, a war has been raging where upwards of 70,000 people have been killed and we effectively gave up. The media should shift its view from praising the two countries to condemning them for letting it get this far.

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            One of the reasons it failed was , “Both the US and Russia endorsed a plan for a political solution for Syria last June but have differed over how to implement it.” In the end part of the responsibility for the madness falls to the two countries that dropped the ball in terms of how to enforce the peace. It’s the equivalent of two parents telling their children not to do something and then being surprised when they did it.

 

            Furthermore, Instability in the region is bad for both countries, it has a negative affect on Syria and the surrounding countries, of which both the United States and Russia are allied. This situation has escalated to a point where more than politics are in order. Sanctions should be put in affect and UN peacekeepers should be deployed and stricter sanctions on weapons should be forced in order to De-militarize both the rebels and the regime in an attempt to incite peace. Civil discourse has failed because neither side has any trust for the other, it is imperative that they attempt these peace talks with the utmost of severity if they were to be broken.

Starving Palestinian Childeren, No One Seems to Care.

The world is witnessing souring poverty in Palestine, could it be due to the massive walls surrounding the Palestinian people? Recently, the UN introduced a figure that showed 80% of Palestinian children living in east Jerusalem were living in massive poverty.  Their “findings echoed a report issued by an Israeli human rights group earlier this week lamenting that the city’s Palestinian residents were suffering the “worst (poverty) rate of all time.” At the same time, the rates of poverty of Israeli children have been declining. I believe that this is due to one word, “segregation”. If you surround a population and restrict trade and resources it only makes sense that they are going to be forced into poverty.Image

            To add figures to this statement, “The barrier has caused direct losses to east Jerusalem’s economy of more than $1.0 billion, the UNCTAD report said, adding that the wall continues to cost the city’s economy around $200 million a year in lost trade and employment opportunities.” This wall has a direct effect on the surrounded Palestinians and is proven to cause poverty at a staggering rate. How is it possible to justify the pain that you inflict on the society, when you claim that you are the ones being oppressed? If the red line that they are talking about actually exists then it has been crossed hundreds of times in regards to the treatment of the Palestinians.

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            As highlighted in the Al Jazeera article, The “UNCTAD chastised Israel for not doing enough to meet its obligations as an occupying power, urging the country to act “with vigour to improve economic conditions in east Jerusalem and the well-being of Palestinian residents.” However I believe that more than just a simple push of encouragement is in order, if they want to see real results in the protection of the Palestinian people, they should push for sanctions to be put on Israel in order to expedite the process.

Pulling the plug on the Internet, Seriously Syria?

Did the government of Syria think it would be a good idea to turn off Internet for two days? If so, it would be hard not to make connections between their actions and the actions of Egypt before it fell. Turning off Internet does nothing to strengthen your reputation around the globe or even domestically. What are your afraid to show your population that you’re willing to go to the massive trouble to shut down the Internet of an entire country? Something smells wrong.

            However, no party has claimed responsibility for the blackout. The timing of this is very suspicious. The Syrian government has before shut off the Internet of a county based upon the idea that it would disrupt rebel fighters. It’s not something that they lack the capacity, or willingness to do. At this point in the war, Assad would do almost anything to gain the upper hand. As the world looks in, a great way to stop information from getting out would be to shut off the ability for reporters to report.

            Aljazeera has claimed, “The blackout, which ended on Wednesday, was blamed by state media on a technical fault, but activists and a watchdog accused the regime of deliberating cutting the connection to shield military operations.” This introduces an interesting element, as non-affiliated groups have deemed the actions state caused.

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            The Syrian state news “quoted the director general of the General Establishment for Communications, Bakr Bakr, as saying internet services and communication between provinces had gone down because of a malfunction in an optic cable.”

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            The problem in this situation is that we are given two sides of the story; both claim that they were in the right, and attempt to dispute the other. You are stuck in between a mass of misinformation, with both sides in the wrong and contributing to the mess. In the end it would be almost impossible to prove that this was in fact caused by government intervention, however it would seem like the logical reason.

Women Playing Soccer in Saudi Arabia, why did this take so long?

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I recently read an article in which they highlighted that Saudi Women are now allowed to play sports in private schools. I know that this doesn’t seem like a big deal, but as we have seen from the presentations in class, women’s rights in Saudi Arabia is a slow and drawn out affair.  It ahs been trying to make ground for over 50 years. I believe that this new addition to the equality of Saudi women will help bring about more positive change in the government.  This improvement is a part of a series of advances that will bring the civil rights in the country to a new level. Another instance that has had a similar level of national viewership was the admission of women into the countries Shura Council, or a type of legislator. This is more of a symbolic position as anything because it the council doesn’t hold any real power.

            At the same time, it’s scary that at this point in our history as a species, the idea of girls being allowed to play team sports is considered a step forward. It not only was deemed news worthy, but also was a featured news story on the Guardian. At the same time, its clear that this is a step forward from two steps back. Only three years ago, many “women’s gyms were closed in 2010 on grounds they were unlicensed.” Basically saying that they were closed due to the fact that women were not allowed to dress in anything that goes against sharia law.

            This is more of a religious issue than a political issue as many of the edicts come from prominent clerics that demand the strict adherence to sharia law. Recently, a 52 page report was done by the Human Rights Watch last year, in It they reportedly said “Although religious views opposing prohibition on women’s participation in sport are less frequently pronounced than those in favour, government policy is only inching toward realising women’s right to sport rather than taking bold steps to realise it,” This idea follows the rule of the old over the rule of the young. I believe that in the next twenty years, the rules and stipulations holding back the women of Saudi Arabia will be torn aside and you will see a greater equality of the sexes.

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Gadhafi’s governmental workers are “Tainted”

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Following the rule of Gadhafi, the Libyan government was a mess. Many of the technocrats that helped solidify the daily workings of the government had kept their jobs through the transfer of power. Unfortunately the many militias that ruled the country following the transfer had a problem with the supporters of Gadhafi keeping their positions.

To me it seems like a natural occurrence for this to happen. It’s long enough after the rebellion that you would expect them to find adequate replacements for those loyal to the old regime. The idea that because these politicians had served time in the Gadhafi government had somehow made them tainted is terrifying. Who is going to run the country when policies like this target those who know the most about running the government.

However, the idea that these people are somehow inferior to their new regime counterparts is ridiculous. These people are in the positions that they have due to their hard work and their continued understanding of what the positions mean. I believe that what people associate themselves with should not be used against them in terms of seeking employment. If they ran for election and were re-elected based on their skills and history they deserve the position that they have won.

This is a classic example of the people seeking justice from those who didn’t commit a crime. The revolution is over, now they don’t have anything to do. These fighters are just another example of how little it really takes to condemn a person when you have a gun in your hands.

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New Palestinian Bus system…. Totally not segregation or anything…

New Palestinian Bus system…. Totally not segregation or anything…

The Palestinians who wish to travel into Israel for work are no longer allowed to sit with the Israelis after the Israeli “settlers” complained.  Its hard not to liken this to 1950’s America with the “separate but equal” fiasco. This brings me back to the movie that we are currently watching in class, Palestinians are treated like third class citizens and are given no rights.

 

Although Palestinians are currently being occupied, they are not allowed equality through the law. While the Israeli settlements are allowed to expand, Palestinian towns are denied construction permits. There’s two separate systems of education in place one for the Hebrew students and another that is termed “municipalities of the minorities”. The people are treated as third class citizens. Its getting to the point were its almost a cast system and we are talking about untouchables.

Its 2013. Get with the program.