Links May 27th to May 29th

Links from my account for May 27th through May 29th:

About the MESH blog

When I first saw that Harvard had launched a blog that allowed Middle East experts to debate the issues of the day, I thought, good for them. But after reading it for several months, I am finding that most of the time it’s full of the most right-wing drivel and venomous attacks on mainstream Middle East Studies academia you’ll see outside of Martin Kramer and Daniel Pipes’ sites. And on top of it, it is reliably ultra-Zionist and unquestioning of Israel. It also features some reasonable people, mostly middle-of-the-road think tankers from Washington, but mostly it really appears to be the sort of folk who attend JINSA and WINEP conferences. Just check out this piece for instance.

Does anyone know why this is so?

Links May 25th to May 26th

Links from my account for May 25th through May 26th:

Links May 21st to May 24th

Links from my account for May 21st through May 24th:

Don’t be evil, work for Google

A recruiter from Google has written to send the following job ad– they’re hiring software engineers and more who have fluent Arabic. The whole job listing is after the jump for those interested — good luck to those who’d apply, and if you get in please tell Google to allow filtering of Israeli ads in Adsense (I’ve had a long correspondence with them over this issue.) Oh, and that whole China thing.

Continue reading Don’t be evil, work for Google

Links May 18th to May 21st

Links from my account for May 18th through May 21st:

Jeffrey Goldberg’s ‘American Problem’

There’s been much about Jeffrey Goldberg’s New York Times piece about how the powerful members of Zionist groups in America are being, er, more Catholic than the Pope (more Talmudic than the Rabbi?) in their inflexibility on the issue of West Bank settlements. Yes, it’s good that a prominent Jewish-American journalist and former IDF soldier says that. Even if he slammed Walt and Mearsheimer from bringing attention to the lobby a year ago, resorting to the usual slander of anti-Semitism. Yet, to me, most perplexing in this piece is this:

So why won’t American leaders push Israel publicly? Or, more to the point, why do presidential candidates dance so delicately around this question? The answer is obvious: The leadership of the organized American Jewish community has allowed the partisans of settlement to conflate support for the colonization of the West Bank with support for Israel itself. John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, in their polemical work “The Israel Lobby,” have it wrong: They argue, unpersuasively, that American support for Israel hurts America. It doesn’t. But unthinking American support does hurt Israel.

Several things here: Goldberg has a problem with the omerta on this topic in the US presidential election not because a small group is silencing the debate on a major foreign policy issue, but because he thinks the policy is wrong (for Israel). So he’s more concerned about the problems in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than the damage to American democracy. And then the same line of thinking is seen again when he expresses concern not for the damage to US interests in support for Israeli extremism (one that would think has become amply evident after eight years of extremist Likudnik policies under Bush), but that this might hurt Israel. So basically he is saying we should have a full debate to consider various points of views of the Israeli political leadership (fair enough), but that this is the limit of the debate and benefits to America are not worth considering. Just look at the last line of the piece:

The people of Aipac and the Conference of Presidents are well meaning, and their work in strengthening the overall relationship between America and Israel has ensured them a place in the world to come. But what’s needed now is a radical rethinking of what it means to be pro-Israel. Barack Obama and John McCain, the likely presidential nominees, are smart, analytical men who understand the manifold threats Israel faces 60 years after its founding. They should be able to talk, in blunt terms, about the full range of dangers faced by Israel, including the danger Israel has brought upon itself.

But this won’t happen until Aipac and the leadership of the American Jewish community allow it to happen.

Quite amazingly, he does not seem to have a concern for the American political process, where discussion of a crucial policy question being banned by small but powerful interests. All his attention is focused on whether it might be good for Israel. Does he ever think that, for the majority of Americans who don’t particularly care about Israel or Palestine, the fact that debate is being silenced is the most dangerous and offensive thing of all? Or that US policy on the Arab-Israeli conflict has hurt American interests?

(And incidentally, let’s not forget that Goldberg is among the most biased journalists who cover this conflict in the US, as Finkelstein has argued.)

Ministry of Interior asks for funding to put down food riots

Poor, poor Egyptian Ministry of Interior: its repressive capabilities are being stressed to the limit by the constant strikes, riots, protests and other events. So what does it do? Ask for even more money, of course:

In a briefing to parliament, Yusuf said the ministry was spending more money on advanced security equipment meant to quell riots. The official cited communications systems, plastic shields, tear gas and other non-lethal weapons.

So far, Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif has agreed to increase the budget of the Interior Ministry. Yusuf said the Finance Ministry has allocated 1.18 billion Egyptian pounds, or about $220 million for 2008. The overall budget of the ministry was reported at $1.63 billion.

But Yusuf said this was not enough for the needs of Egyptian security forces. He said most of the anti-riot gear and other security equipment were being purchased in euro, which has significantly increased against the dollar over the last year.

Officials said Egypt has been recruiting villagers for the police and security forces. They said officers, many of them drafted for three years, were being trained to rapidly arrive at demonstrations and disperse protesters.

[From World Tribune — Egypt’s interior minister seeks riot-control budget as food prices spike]

Mahalla detainees appeal to civil society

Letter to head of the Judges’ Club Zakariya Abdel Aziz from the three Mahalla detainees, Kamal El-Fayyoumy, Tareq Amin, and Karim El-Beheiry:

We would like in the beginning to correct certain information which has reached the press about our (the three of us) having been transferred to the prison hospital as a result of our hunger strike.

The truth is that we are still in prison after the administration refused to call an ambulance to take us to hospital, and as a result of the inability of Karim el-Beheiry and Tareq Amin to stand on their feet – as a result of their extreme weakness. Instead, a “nurse” was summoned to examine Karim, whose condition has seriously deteriorated.

We would like to know the reason why we remain in detention. We will continue the hunger strike until we either die or receive this information.

We were tortured in the state security headquarters in Mahalla on the 6th, 7th and 8th April. Officers tortured Karim using electricity while Tareq Amin and Kamal el-Fayyoumy were insulted verbally and physically assaulted. We then spent eleven days in Borg el-Arab prison in a cell with individuals with criminal convictions. When the Tanta court ordered that we be released we were held for four days in the El-Salam police station [noqtat shorta] situated between Mahalla and Tanta before we were taken to Borg el-Arab prison were we began our hunger strike.

[From Fustat: Letter from Burg al Arab prison]

Links for May 18th

Links from my account for May 18th: