August 25, 2013
A particularly inane op-ed has been making the rounds in small town newspapers regarding the current upheaval in Egypt on the subject of American aid the past two weeks including my own hometown paper, the Spokesman-Review of Spokane, Washington.
Written by one John Quigley, a professor emeritus of law at Ohio State University, it makes the argument that the United States should cut military aid to Egypt following its violent crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood protesters. Yet the justification for this move is not to reprimand the military coup for its wanton repression, but to ensure Egypt’s return to a once “united Arab-country front in support of a just accommodation for the Palestinians vis-a-vis Israel.” He reasons that the Camp David Agreement, from which this aid stems and which he believes fractured this unity, “has been disastrous for the cause of peace in the Middle East.”
Aside from the op-ed itself being quite poorly written and reasoned, it conveniently overlooks the fact that 1) the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has little to nothing to do with the current upheaval in Egypt and 2) the period of imagined unity for which the author yearns was one of violently destructive and globally destabilizing interstate warfare.
To the latter point, I offer my response.
May 20, 2011
I generally do not use this blog to comment on Op-Ed pieces in the popular press, but for New York Times writer Thomas Friedman, I will make an exception.
Friedman’s latest piece, Bibi and Barack, opens with an obvious observation, the Middle East is going to hell in a hand basket and things could really blow at any minute. In this tumultuous setting, he asserts that there are things which are “unmanageable” and those which are “unavoidable”. What is unmanageable is another war between Israel and its neighboring Arab states; what is unavoidable is dealing with a more unstable Arab world. Given this, we must manage the unavoidable and avoid the unmanageable. Therefore, these realities must be faced with a “serious peace policy” and a “serious energy policy”.
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March 23, 2011
For those who have not yet heard, there was a bombing this afternoon in Jerusalem. At present, the explosion was believed to have come from a device planted in a phone booth near a major bus stop. I am okay and as far as I know, everyone I know is okay. Unfortunately at least 25 innocent people are not. No one has yet died from their injuries, however at least one person is in critical condition.
The attack took place just outside the Binyanei Hauma, the Jerusalem International Convention Center, which is across the street from the Central Bus Station. Where the explosion occurred is a major bus stop which is crowded all day long with commuters. I imagine the site was particularly packed today as the convention center is now hosting a health and exercise expo for the Jerusalem Marathon. I was at the exact spot of the bombing yesterday at just about the same time picking up my race packet.
I am thankful to say that attacks such as these are no longer part of everyday life in Israel, in large part thanks to the diligent security efforts of the Israeli military, police, and intelligence services. Indeed, Jerusalemites have grown accustomed to the peace and quiet which has existed here since the end of the last intifada. No one wants to a return to the days when people were afraid to ride the buses and attacks were routine.
It is often said that the main goal of terrorism is not actually to cause mass casualties, but to cause mass panic; to make people think that nothing is safe even when very little has changed. I am sure that I speak for everyone here in saying that we all hope that quiet will quickly return and that the streets will still be safe. In the meantime, I intend to keep living my life here as I have before this tragic and cowardly act; doing my research and visiting my friends, while keeping a sharp eye open at all times. I can think of no better individual response to those who wanted to terrify Israel into submission today.
February 23, 2009
I recently returned from the International Studies Association’s 50th Annual Conference in New York City and am thrilled to report that the conference went very well. My paper was very positively received and I received excellent useful feedback from my discussant. I was also delighted to see a number of old friends and professors from my previous graduate institution, the University of British Columbia, and to make many many more new friends and contacts throughout the academic community.
Now that I’m back in Chicago, it is time to get back to work on my thesis prospectus which I hope to be defending in March. I will also be working on a few reviews of books I have recently finished reading including Nationalism and Territory: Constructing Group Identity in Southeastern Europe by George White and Where Nation-States Come From: Institutional Change in the Age of Nationalism by Philip Roeder.
I also won a book raffle from the University of Pennsylvania Press which means they’ll be sending me one free book from their collection that was on display at ISA. I picked out Anderson and Stansfield’s Crisis in Kirkuk: The Ethnopolitics of Conflict and Compromise (National and Ethnic Conflict in the 21st Century). From what little I know of the historical importance the Kurds ascribe to this city, it seems that ethnic attachments to this city could be very relevant to my research. Keep your eyes peeled for a review of this book in the coming months.
Back to work…
January 4, 2009
On Friday afternoon, I joined a group of about 150 people in downtown Chicago to show solidarity with the State of Israel in this time of crisis.
We faced a much larger, much angrier group of protesters waving Palestinian, Hamas, and Hezbollah flags, marching up and down the street with fake coffins, burning Israeli flags, and chanting incendiary slogans. Despite efforts by this group to initiate a confrontation, we remained calm, determined, rational, and level-headed. The difference in behavior between our two groups was night and day.
CBS News Chicago covered the event and has footage here. You may notice yours truly in the final moments of the report.
January 2, 2009
As the war in Gaza rages on, I have much to say but not nearly enough time to say it. Rather than add yet another opinion to the cacophony of reports, op-eds, and armchair generals already pontificating about what Israel should do next, I will limit myself to this brief comment about the conflict so far:
For too long Israel has been complacent as Hamas and other terrorist groups have launched qassam missile attack after missile attack at the homes, schools, workplaces, and public parks of the residents of Southern Israel. These “crude rockets” (and some in fact not so crude) are deadly, and they are meant to be.
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August 26, 2008
Almost a month ago on August 7, 2008, Russia began its march on the former Soviet republic of Georgia in immediate response to a Georgian military strike on the country’s own secessionist province of South Ossetia. The Georgians, in turn, claim the initial strike was in response to violence committed by South Ossetian separatists against Georgian peacekeepers and ethnic Georgian civilians residing inside the territory.
What began as a relatively minor confrontation between local parties has quickly escalated into a small-scale interstate war between Russia and Georgia over South Ossetia and the western Georgian break-away province of Abkhazia. Both territories, most of whose residents are now nominally ethnic Russian, have claimed independence from Georgia since 1992 and enjoyed open Russian diplomatic and military support.
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