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Middle East

Beyond the Drumbeat: Iraq, Preventive War, ‘Old Europe’

The letter of support, signed by the leaders of eight European countries last January, for the Bush administration’s inexorable push for war with Iraq was both singularly ideological and shortsighted. The list of values that the signatories claim to share with the United States is altogether unexceptionable: “democracy, individual freedom, human rights, and the rule of law.” But there is a crying omission: free-market capitalism. This omission is all the more striking since there is no fathoming the infamous terrorist attack of September 11, 2001 without bearing in mind that its main target was the World Trade Center, a prominent symbol and hub of globalizing capitalism | more…

February 2003 (Volume 54, Number 9)

Notes from the Editors

On December 19, 2002 U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell declared that the 12,000 page document that Iraq delivered to the United Nations on December 7, listing its secret weapons programs together with any dual use agents that could be used in proscribed weapons systems, contained significant omissions. It thus constituted, in the view of the Bush administration, a further “material breach” in Iraq’s obligations under current U.N. resolutions. All of this was meant to add to Washington’s case for waging a war on Iraq, ostensibly in order to “disarm” it | more…

Global Capitalism and Israel

Jonathan Nitzan and Shimshon Bichler, The Global Political Economy of Israel (London and Sterling, Virginia: Pluto Press, 2002), 407 pages, cloth $75.00, paper $24.95.

One of the characteristics of much academic writing is an obsession with theory at the expense of empirical investigation. It is rare to find a book that combines genuinely novel theoretical exploration with rigorous empirical study, the more so in fields such as political science where abstraction seems to have become the norm. It is for this reason that The Global Political Economy of Israel is such a gripping read. A remarkable investigation into the concrete workings of the Israeli and U.S. economies that avoids the fatuous generalities of much of the globalization literature, it presents a challenging theoretical framework that not only clarifies the past but also seeks to understand the present | more…

Punishment by Detail

Aside from the obvious physical discomforts, being ill for a long period of time fills the spirit with a terrible feeling of helplessness, but also with periods of analytic lucidity, which, of course, must be treasured. For the past three months, now I have been in and out of the hospital, with days marked by lengthy and painful treatments, blood transfusions, endless tests, hours and hours of unproductive time spent staring at the ceiling, draining fatigue and infection, inability to do normal work, and thinking, thinking, thinking. But there are also the intermittent passages of lucidity and reflection that sometimes give the mind a perspective on daily life that allows it to see things (without being able to do much about them) from a different perspective. Reading the news from Palestine and seeing the frightful images of death and destruction on television, it has been my experience to be utterly amazed and aghast at what I have deduced from those details about Israeli government policy, more particularly about what has been going on in the mind of Ariel Sharon. And when, after the recent Gaza bombing by one of his F-16s in which nine children were massacred, he was quoted as congratulating the pilot and boasting of a great Israeli success, I was able to form a much clearer idea than before of what a pathologically deranged mind is capable of, not only in terms of what it plans and orders but, worse, how it manages to persuade other minds to think in the same delusional and criminal way. Getting inside the official Israeli mind is a worthwhile, if lurid, experience | more…

Class, Economy, and the Second Intifada

The current Palestinian Intifada and Israel’s brutal response has been the subject of countless articles over the last two years. There is however a disappointing vacuum within left analysis, with much of this writing attempting to explain the character of Israeli policy through the right-wing views of Ariel Sharon. Within this framework, Israeli strategy is presented as a racist extension of colonialist designs on the Occupied Territories sometimes including the expulsion of Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip (hereafter referred to as WB/GS) | more…

Understanding the Other Sister: The Case of Arab Feminism

One evening, shortly after September 11, I was conducting a college English class when one of my students asked a question about the accumulating body of information on women and Islam. It was one of many questions about the Middle East asked of me in the days after the tragedies; this one was about the veil, and why women in the Middle East “had to wear it.” I explained that not all women in the Middle East were Muslim (I myself am a Palestinian Christian), but that even many Muslim women did not veil. However, many did, and for myriad reasons: mostly for personal and religious reasons and, for some, upon compulsion | more…

The Language of Empire: Abu Ghraib and the American Media

The Language of Empire: Abu Ghraib and the American Media

The Language of Empire is a study of how and why the torture of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib was white-washed by the American media. Tracing the connections between such apparently unrelated incidents as the videotaped beheading of the American contractor Nicholas Berg and the massive siege and bombing of Fallujah—the Guernica of the 21st century—it builds a compelling case that the torture of Iraqi prisoners was not an aberration but systematic, rehearsed, and in line with the history and policies of the U.S. military. | more…

Nelson Mandela on Israel

I know that you and I long for peace in the Middle East, but before you continue to talk about necessary conditions from an Israeli perspective, you need to know what’s on my mind.… Where to begin? How about 1964. Let me quote my own words during my trial. They are true today as they were then: “I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” | more…

Toward an Open Tomb: The Crisis of Israeli Society

Toward an Open Tomb: The Crisis of Israeli Society

Since the breakdown of the Oslo peace process in 2000 and the beginning of the second Intifada, conflict has escalated in Israel/Palestine and come to seem irreversible. The overwhelming power of the Israeli military has been unleashed against a largely defenseless population in the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza, driving Palestinians to despair and to desperate measures of retaliation. Michel Warschawski, has for many decades been active in building alliances of Jews and Palestinians to oppose the Israeli occupation. In this book, however, he focuses especially on the effects of the occupation on the occupiers—that is, on Israeli society—rather than its victims. | more…

Eastern Cauldron: Islam, Afghanistan, Palestine, and Iraq in a Marxist Mirror

Eastern Cauldron: Islam, Afghanistan, Palestine, and Iraq in a Marxist Mirror

The route to any coherent understanding of our time runs through the issues addressed in this collection of essays: the political meaning of Islam, the relation of the West to the Islamic world, the new form of imperialism signaled by the Soviet and U.S. occupations of Afghanistan, the intractable conflict over Palestine. In confronting these inescapable issues global power is being reshaped and the ends for which it will be used are being decided. | more…

Behind the Invasion of Iraq

Behind the Invasion of Iraq

Since September 11, 2001, there have been many accounts of the ways in which the alignment of global power is changing or will be changed by the U.S. war on terrorism. Most of them take as their starting point the options facing the wealthy and powerful nations of the world seeking to control an ever larger share of the world’s resources. Behind the Invasion of Iraq is written from a different perspective, and one that makes possible a far more comprehensive point of view. | more…

The New Crusade: America's War on Terrorism

The New Crusade: America’s War on Terrorism

The attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001 and the U.S. government response, especially after the bombing of Afghanistan, transformed U.S. and global politics. The New Crusade examines the myths that have arisen around the war on terrorism and the ways they are used to benefit a small elite. Mahajan demonstrates how accepted accounts of the causes of the U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan, the conduct of the war, and its consequences have been systematically distorted. He shows how global power is being redefined in the process and explores the new directions the war is likely to take. | more…