The state seeks order; it can control only those whom it orders. It cannot cope with the demand of “freedom”; it has to ask questions such as “freedom for whom,” “freedom for what,” or “freedom under what circumstances” in order to tuck freedom into neat boxes. Order draws borders, fixes identities, and defines. It attempts to establish a hierarchy. By telling parents to take their daughters and sons home from the park, it both brands the resisting bodies as “children” and tries to trigger into action the nucleus of society: family. Through its rhetoric of security, it attributes the risks of its own making to the resisting bodies. It hangs its own flag or banner on the bodies that it prefers knocking down rather than protecting. It punishes those who do not obey; it uses punishment as retaliation. It operates through censorship, threats, and propaganda.
Above image: Rifqa Il Kurd sits with Noura Erakat, discussing the takeover of her home by settlers to the Delegation. Image by Dr. Ralph C. Watkins.
Below is an excerpt from Jadaliyya co-editor, Noura Erakat's introduction to her diary entries while in Palestine:

Even after editing the original diary, the one before you now, I remained uneasy. It does not do justice to the layers of violence, historical depth, and struggles within each of these local encounters. It was simply personal. However, because of my conviction in the justness of the Palestinian struggle for self-determination, freedom, and dignity, I feared that the personal could appear unfair and even manipulative. Absent these binaries and rife with the complexity it deserves, I believe the justness of the cause would be just as piercing. Israeli settler-colonialism, apartheid, and occupation should not cease because Palestinians are good and Israelis are bad. Those structural conditions are an anathema to all whom they directly and indirectly impact—whether they happen to manifest across historic Palestine or elsewhere. Still, my writings reflected a jarring encounter with the brute crudeness of violence—as if I were discovering it for the first time. This, perhaps, is the power of bearing witness, over and over again.

Click here to read the rest of the introduction, as well as her diary entries accompanied with images.

Above image: Rifqa Il Kurd sits with Noura Erakat, discussing the takeover of her home by settlers to the Delegation. Image by Dr. Ralph C. Watkins.

Below is an excerpt from Jadaliyya co-editor, Noura Erakat's introduction to her diary entries while in Palestine:

Even after editing the original diary, the one before you now, I remained uneasy. It does not do justice to the layers of violence, historical depth, and struggles within each of these local encounters. It was simply personal. However, because of my conviction in the justness of the Palestinian struggle for self-determination, freedom, and dignity, I feared that the personal could appear unfair and even manipulative. Absent these binaries and rife with the complexity it deserves, I believe the justness of the cause would be just as piercing. Israeli settler-colonialism, apartheid, and occupation should not cease because Palestinians are good and Israelis are bad. Those structural conditions are an anathema to all whom they directly and indirectly impact—whether they happen to manifest across historic Palestine or elsewhere. Still, my writings reflected a jarring encounter with the brute crudeness of violence—as if I were discovering it for the first time. This, perhaps, is the power of bearing witness, over and over again.

Click here to read the rest of the introduction, as well as her diary entries accompanied with images.

Force Feeding Is Torture: Just Ask Yasiin Bey (a.k.a. Mos Def) (Video)

Yasiin Bey, the rapper-actor-political activist formerly known as Mos Def, has added his voice to the rising chorus of people protesting the brutal force feeding of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay. Today, 120 prisoners are on hunger strike, many since late February. Every day, forty-four to forty-six are force fed.

In order to illustrate and help publicize the pain and humiliation involved in this process, Bey volunteered to subject himself to the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) involved in force feeding. The video below shows this experience. The video was made by Reprieve, a human rights organization based in the United Kingdom which has represented dozens of Guantanamo prisoners, and was directed by the Bafta award-winning director Asif Kapadia.

What Bey endures is brutal, as you can see for yourself. But the full treatment in accordance with the Standard Operating Procedure manual is even more brutal. When a force feeding order is given, a guard shackles the prisoner and places a mask over his mouth to prevent spitting and biting. A feeding tube is inserted through his nose. Medics use a stethoscope and a test dose of water to check that the tube has descended all the way to his stomach. When the tube has been secured with tape, “the enteral nutrition and water that has been ordered is started, and flow rate is adjusted according to detainee’s condition and tolerance.” The feeding can be completed in twenty to thirty minutes but might take up to two hours. After the “nutrient infusion” is completed, he is placed in a “dry cell” and observed for up to sixty minutes for any “indications of vomiting or attempts to induce vomiting.” If he vomits, he can be put through the whole process again.

Continue reading here.

The MB’s sectarian language, the increase in sectarian incidents, the attack on the St. Mark’s Cathedral in April, Morsi’s failure to react to a sheikh who called Shi‘a “filth,” and the entirely useless response to the Sh‘ia lynchings in June were all important indications of an unwillingness to rein in fringe extremist elements on the Islamist scene. Most significantly they showed that Morsi was never interested in representing all Egyptians. But again, Morsi inherited a tradition of state discrimination and sectarianism from his predecessor, he just cranked it up several thousand notches.

Some may argue that free and fair elections, if properly conducted, are fully capable of producing a government that reflects the promise of the January 25 Revolution and its partisans. Yet this line of reasoning conveniently overlooks the distortive role that electoral politics play in pushing out of the national political arena issues and agendas that concern socially marginalized classes.

The experience of the 2011/12 elections is a case in point. The failure of partisans of distributive justice, such as the Revolution Continues Alliance, to secure meaningful representation in Parliament speaks to a reality in which big money and parties of privilege — whether Islamist or secular — dominate the electoral arena, making it extremely difficult for political allies of the marginalized to really succeed in national politics.

In such a context, the liberal prescription of free and fair elections confronts an insurmountable paradox: How can elections create a national political arena capable of resolving pressing conflicts over economic and social rights if those who lack and demand these rights are constantly crowded out of this same arena by default? In this respect, the power that liberals attribute to free and fair elections to resolve the social conflicts that are tearing Egypt apart today is little more than an illusion.

From the Jadaliyya archives: Liberal Illusions

From the Jadaliyya archives: Egyptian Workers and the Revolution: An Interview with Kamal Abu-Eita

The following interview was conducted on 14 September 2012 with Kamal Abu-Eita, General Secretary of the Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions (EFITU) and the head of the Real Estate Tax Authority Union, which was founded in 2008 as Egypt’s first independent union.

In the first part of the interview, Abu-Eita recounts the lead-up to the January 25 Revolution and how workers’ long-standing struggle for social justice has provided the momentum that paved the way for the eighteen-day uprising. He also explains the role of labor strikes in forcing an end to Mubarak’s rule in February 2011. In the second part of the interview, Abu-Eita expresses concern over the state of the freedom to unionize in Egypt, indicating that the current government is poised to reproduce the legal framework prevalent under Mubarak and that has long hindered the freedom of Egyptian workers to organize and push for more humane standards of living and working conditions. Finally, Abu-Eita warns that the current government has not delivered on the January 25 Revolution’s promise for greater social justice, and has shown hostility toward the aspirations of Egyptian labor. “The goals of the Revolution are the criterion governing our relationship with you [the government]. If you uphold them, we welcome you. If you violate them, we will bring you down the same way we brought down your predecessors.”

For those who have just tuned into the news this week, the warnings of a military return may be a jolt. But, for those who have been watching Egypt for the past two years, these concerns are far from the realities on the ground. For one, the military never left the political realm, even after President Morsi’s inauguration on 30 June 2012. In fact, the political basis for Morsi’s rule today is a pact between the Muslim Brotherhood and the military. The former controls the presidency and the sectors of the bureaucracy that do not pose a direct challenge to its interests. The military retains its abnormal political and economic privileges, including its vast economic empire, far from any meaningful civilian oversight.
Jadaliyya co-editor Hesham Sallam writes on Down with Military Rule…Again?