« Jordan Lawyers Association Election | Main | Scoring points against Qatar »

March 21, 2005



So, I know others have pointed this out before, but I'll do it again. Whenever I have attended a protest related to the I/P issue, whether in Cairo, Sana'a, or elsewhere (notice I don't say Beirut, where I actually saw people applauding the coverage of Arafat's funeral melee), it's amazing how quicky what starts out on as a rage against Israel turns to a discussion of the price of bread or sugar.

Protesting the treatment of the Palestinians is a kind of Bordieuian "authorized speech." It is a vocabulary of resistence that is used to simultaneously signify more and less than what it claims to be about. It would be my guess that many of the votes in the I/P category more properly belong in the democracy/human rights or economics categories. This is something we'll never know for sure, but my own participation in protests in Egypt and Yemen, at the very least, would strongly suggest it.


The last issue was health care..
As for what Stacy wrote, Palestine issue will always be the first and foremost issue.
The west and particulary the US just don't get it.
Stop trying to parrot the Bush Admin. claim that with "democracy/human rights or economics categories" everything will be fine!!!!

the aardvark

I (and I suspect Stacy) couldn't care less about the Bush administration's claims... But I do care about the many, many Arabs who have been demanding reform for many, many years, with little success. Reform and democracy and human rights are not alternatives to caring about Palestine. Posing them as such has been standard practice for Arab rulers for many years, and it's been all too effective as an excuse for refusing change. My sense of this is not that pushing for domestic reform comes at the expense of caring about the Palestinians, but that the two issues go together for a lot of Arabs today. Certainly that's the way it's been framed on al Jazeera for years now...


Abu Aardvark, first let say that I'm a big fan of your blog. I should've elaborated more on the issue of Palestine vs. reforms in the M.E.:
Fixing the former takes away all the excuses and exposes all the Arab sock puppets and corrupt kings & emirs. Like it or not, the bush admin. and it's parrots DO matter in today's world in general and in the M.E. in particular.

Mike Doran

AA, slow down! If you keep writing sentences like this, "That Palestine is not now crowding out reform is encouraging and interesting," it's a very slipperly slope that will quickly bounce you over to my side of the tracks. Quick, put on the brakes!

Mike Doran
Shameless plug: http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20050316faupdate84276/michael-scott-doran/is-palestine-the-pivot.html

the aardvark

Hey Mike, no worries there! I've always argued that al Jazeera and co have put reform and critique of the Arab status quo on an equal par with Palestine and Iraq. It doesn't make Arabs any less critical of American foreign policy, though, nor does it make them less mobilized around the Palestinian issue. I would put it more like this: you can't ignore the Palestinian issue, but you also can't use the Palestinian issue to ignore reform. That's the big change I see.


There's a famous David Ben Gurion quote about the White Paper that, ironically, fits here.

Jay C

Just for the uninitiated visitor to the blog (me),can you clarify a point: On a TV poll by Al-Jazeera on the attitudes of the "Arab Street":
When the highest-ranking "priority" issue is given as "Palestine", what meaning will the audience take this to respresent? Peace with Israel? Destroying Israel? Internal Palestinian reforms? Something else? Obviously, context counts in trying to interpret opinion polls such as this: but then, it IS a TV talk-show poll in the classic style (i.e., with a likelihood that is may be meaningless, too).

the aardvark

Jay - the survey's question said "support the Palestinian people" - no elaboration. It's entirely possible that different respondents meant different things by that response, even if they agreed on the overall importance of the Palestinian issue. For more context, I'd need to get hold of the transcript (rather than rely on my already fading memory), and I haven't seen one posted yet.

As to the reliability of an on-line tv talk show survey, I'm with you... never know what to make of them. When you get a landslide in an unexpected direction (like with the question on Syria/Lebanon a few weeks ago), that can be interesting... but I pity the fool who tries to do sophisticated statistical analysis of these surveys. In some ways, how they talk about the survey is more interesting than the survey itself.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Blog powered by Typepad